Caramel Filled Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars (Small Batch)

Today’s recipe was recommended by Claudia, who emailed yesterday saying it was a hit with her family. Because of the name, “Oatmeal Bars” I imagined the recipe as oatmeal cookies in bar form. But when I clicked onto Martha Stewart, I saw that the oatmeal bars were similar to Carmelitas – rich, buttery, oatmeal bars filled with caramel and chocolate chips.

Carmelitas call for caramel ice cream syrup as part of the filling, but this recipe calls for melted caramel candies. I had to go to two stores to find caramel, couldn’t find Kraft brand, and ended up using Target’s house brand of caramels. I’d need to taste the two side by side to be fair, but the Target brand caramels seemed to have a lot of flavor and I was pleasantly surprised. Or maybe I was just hungry.

The Martha Stewart recipe is for a 13×9 inch pan and if you’re making these for a big group, I recommend printing the original recipe. I halved it, used the food processor for cutting the butter, and added some pecans.

oat bars 2

Caramel Filled Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

24 unwrapped caramels
1/4 cup heavy cream (30 grams)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (84 grams)
1 cup all-purpose flour (135 grams)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (105 grams)
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (140 grams)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (80 grams)
1/3 cup pecans, chopped (40 grams)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with foil and spray foil with cooking spray or use non-stick foil.

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until caramels are melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Stir the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl or bowl of food processor. Blend in butter with a fork or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. I used the food processor for this step, and so as not to chop the oats too much, added them *after* I’d incorporated the butter.

Press half of crumbly mixture onto bottom of lined pan. Bake on center rack for about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes.

Sprinkle crust with chocolate chips; drizzle with caramel mixture. Top with remaining crumb mixture and toasted pecans. Bake until pale golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan before cutting into squares. (12)

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  1. says

    reminds me of the time I made salty caramel bars…I loved them but the whole slicing the bars was a nightmare. I need to get better knives.
    These look good, although I’ve been really good last month about eating sweets–I just give them away. But these….

  2. marykate says

    just commenting to let you know how much i love your blog! it’s great that you update so frequently, and i also love that you’ve tried so many recipes and can recommend which is the best to use. i’m trying out your best lemon bar recipe tomorrow! thanks!

  3. says

    This is something I’d have a hard time leaving alone if I had them around. They look sooooo good!! They have several of my favorite things.
    BTW, my muffins turned out fine. I was pleasantly surprised.

  4. B says

    When I was a kid we always made a recipe very similar to the one for Carmelitas and it used caramels and cream. I always assumed that the recipe my family used was the original Carmelitas recipe and Pillsbury updated the recipe to use ice cream syrup instead of the caramels and cream, but you’re the expert on Pillsbury recipes, Anna! As I look at it closer, my family’s recipe is a half recipe and the amount of butter and nuts is slightly different. Plus, you melt the butter. No matter what small changes you make, this combo is delicious!

    Here’s the recipe as I got it from my mom who probably got it from my grandma, just for the sake of comparison. (You can tell it’s been around for a while since it calls for a slow oven.)

    1 c. flour
    1 c. oatmeal
    3/4 c. brown sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 cup melted butter

    Press half of mixture into 7″ x 11″ pan. Bake in slow oven for 15 minutes. Watch! (For what, I’m not sure, but I guess until it starts to brown.)

    Sprinkle 1/2 c. chopped nuts over base.

    Melt together 32 light caramels and 5 tablespoons cream. Drizzle over nuts.

    Sprinkle with one 6 oz. pkg chocolate chips.

    Add remaining mixture over top. (Crumble over top.)

    Bake until golden brown – only a few minutes.

  5. says

    Hi B,

    Carmelitas are an old Bake-Off recipe from 1967. My guess is the lady who entered them in the Bake-Off took an older recipe like the one you posted, made some modifications, and used the caramel ice cream topping instead of caramels.

  6. KAnn says

    Whole Foods (in this region, anyways) does incredible Carmalitas that tempt me every day…these look fabulous, too!

  7. Mary says

    The recipe is almost identical to the ORIGINAL Oatmeal Carmelitas recipe from one of the 1960’s Bake-Off contests (the measurements are ever-so-slightly different). Not a criticism, just an observation! I think it was Pillsbury themselves who ‘updated’ it in the ’80s by subbing caramel topping. Either way they’re one of my favorite cookies! I like them as is but once in a while I’ll sub Kraft Premium Caramel Bits for the chocolate chips, making them caramel through and through!

    The ongoing argument in our family is how to pronounce the word caramel … everyone seems to call it CAR-amel (rhyming with BAR) but for some reason I’ve always pronounced it CARE-amel.

  8. says

    KAnn, I don’t know what passes through our Whole Foods because I don’t get th ere much anymore. I hate wasting gas to drive all the way downtown. Wish they’d build one in our part of town.

    Rita, these would probably be a hit in Portugal. You should make some.

    Mary, I pronounce it CARE-amel like they used to sing in the Rolo’s commercials…chewy, chocolate covered, CARE-amel.

  9. Karen says

    I made these last night, very quick and easy. I was extra generous with the chips and pecans. Very yummy, I love how they just slid off the non-stick foil. (I have only recently discovered the wonders of non-stick foil – late to the part, I know.) I will definitely make these again.

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