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Caramelitas are the ultimate chocolate caramel oatmeal bars that are ooey-gooey, rich, and decadent! This is an easy dessert bar that everyone will love – each bite is filled with gooey caramel sauce and chocolate.
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The BEST Caramelitas Bars
Chocolate, caramel, and oatmeal – what’s not to love? Combining these three things in a dessert bar is about the best dessert invention ever.
My caramelitas recipe starts with a layer of oatmeal crust topped with caramel, chocolate, and then an oatmeal topping. Bake until golden, and then try to resist slicing them until cooled. It’s a tall order!
They are easy to make and the best treat to wow everyone at a potluck, bake sale, or party!
When I want to really treat the chocolate and caramel fans in my life, these gooey chocolate oatmeal bars are what I make.
What are Caramelitas?
Caramelitas, also known as oatmeal gooey bars, are what to make when you’re craving an ooey-gooey treat. Every layer in these bars is something special!
Caramelitas are layered dessert bars that are super decadent! The oatmeal crust is topped with caramel sauce, chocolate chips and then topped off with an oatmeal topping.
Every bite is oozing with chocolate and caramel. They are so good! The perfect dessert bar for potlucks, parties, or whenever you want to treat yourself!
Butter: I always use unsalted butter, and be sure it’s softened. To use salted butter, reduce salt by 1/2 teaspoon.
Sugar: This recipe uses a combination of brown sugar and granulated sugar to make the cookie bar base.
Eggs: I always buy large eggs so be sure to get the correct size.
Vanilla Extract: For flavor – be sure to buy pure extract not imitation.
Baking Soda: This is typical for cookies and bars – be sure yours isn’t expired.
Salt: For flavor, a must to keep the dessert balanced.
Cinnamon: Always a must in any oatmeal recipe!
All-Purpose Flour: Be sure to measure it correctly! You will also need a bit of flour for the filling.
Quick-Cooking Oats: I prefer to use quick oats in my cookie recipes – did you know you can make your own quick oats if you have old fashioned?
Caramel Squares: For the filling you’ll need caramel squares. You can use the traditional Kraft caramels or Werther’s Chewy Caramels.
Heavy Whipping Cream: To melt the caramel, no substitutions here!
Chocolate Chips: Use your favorite, I used semi-sweet.
How to Make Caramelitas
Step 1. Make your cookie dough: Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and flour and mix until smooth. Mix in the oats.
Step 2. Press in pan: Take 2/3 of the dough and press it into a prepared 9×13” baking pan.
Step 3. Pre-Bake the bottom: Bake it for 10 minutes at 350°F. This will ensure that your bars are completely cooked all the way through at the end of baking.
Step 4. Make the caramel mixture: Place the unwrapped caramels and cream in a saucepan. Turn on the burner and warm the mixture, frequently stirring, until the caramels are melted. Stir in the flour. You can also do this in the microwave.
Step 5. Assemble: When the bottom layer is finished baking, take the pan out of the oven and pour the caramel sauce over the top. Leave a small border around the edge. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the caramel.
Take the rest of the dough you made earlier, break off pieces, and flatten them between your hands. Place them on top of the chocolate chips and caramel. Once you’ve placed all the dough, seal the edges by pressing them into the bottom crust. It’s okay if some chocolate chips and caramel sauce are peeking through the dough pieces.
Step 6. Finish Baking: Bake the caramelitas for 24 to 28 minutes or until they are lightly golden around the edges and on top. Cool them completely before removing them from the pan and slicing.
Tips and Variations
- Be sure to line the pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. The spray will ensure the bars don’t stick to the foil, and the foil will make it easy to lift the bars out in one piece before slicing.
- When you make the dough for the crust, it will be very sticky to work with. Spray your hands with cooking spray to make it easier to press into the pan.
- If you don’t feel like making caramel, you can skip that step and use jarred caramel sauce. Just omit the cream and caramels and use the jar of sauce, but still stir in the flour.
- Not a chocolate fan? Skip the chocolate chips and make an all-caramel version.
- You can also use chopped nuts or chopped candy like peanut butter cups, M&Ms, or other chocolate candy in these bars. Feel free to experiment!
- For perfect clean slices, allow the bars to cool completely before slicing them.
You can use 12 ounces of homemade caramel sauce in place of the caramel squares and omit the heavy cream. I have tested this recipe with that homemade caramel I linked.
Leave out the heavy cream and caramel squares and use a 12-ounce jar.
Just add the caramels and cream to a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute, then stir and heat in additional 30 second increments, stirring between each, until melted and smooth.
It works best with quick oats, but if you only have old-fashioned oats you can turn them into quick oats by pulsing them in a blender or food processor.
Keep the bars wrapped and store them at room temperature. They will keep for two to three days.
Yes, they are freezer-friendly! Once they are cooled, wrap them tightly and keep them in a freezer bag or container. They will keep well for up to three months. If you’re all about the layers of gooey caramel and chocolate like I am, these caramelitas are a must-try! Like, you must try them this week – I know you will love them!
Other Dessert Bars You’ll Enjoy
- Loaded Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- Triple Threat Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
- Easy Rocky Road Bars
- White Chocolate Blondies
Have you made this recipe?
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- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (200g) packed brown sugar
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1¾ cups (217g) all-purpose flour
- 3 ¼ cups (289g) quick cooking oats
- 11- ounce bag (317g) caramel squares , unwrapped
- ⅓ cup (79ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 cups (340g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13-inch pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (You can also use a large bowl and a hand mixer.) Cream until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla, beat until smooth. Gradually mix in baking soda, salt, cinnamon and flour until smooth, being careful not to over mix. Mix in oats. Press two thirds of the batter in the prepared pan in a thin layer. (Batter is sticky so spray your hands with cooking spray.) Bake for 10 minutes.
- While bottom layer is baking, place caramels and cream in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Whisk in flour until smooth. After the 10-minute bake, pour caramel mixture over hot cookie dough in pan, leaving a small border around all the edges. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.
- Break off pieces of the remaining dough and flatten between your hands (dough will be sticky). Lay on the top of caramel. Continue until the entire pan is covered, pressing the edges to seal them together. A little of the caramel may peek through, that’s okay.
- Bake for an additional 24-28 minutes, or until the bars are light golden around the edges and on top. Cool completely before slicing.
- Substitute 12-ounces of homemade or jarred caramel sauce for the caramel squares, but omit the heavy cream.
- Add nuts or chocolate chips to the batter, if desired.
- Add M&Ms to the batter for some color!
- You can use old fashioned oats but pulse them in a blender or food processor first (then measure for the bars – see my post on how to make quick oats).
- Do not slice bars until completely cooled for best results.
- Don’t skip the foil or parchment lining in the pan – it gets gooey and messy!
Caramelitas are an easy oatmeal caramel chocolate chip bar! These Oatmeal Gooey Bars are full of caramel and chocolate and are SO good and easy to make with caramel squares or jarred caramel.