Milk Chocolate Caramel Oat Bars

This is an old recipe from Kraft, but I updated it by using their new caramel bits instead of the caramel candies that have to be unwrapped.

caramel bars with oats

I also added some chocolate chips and some forgotten chocolate bunny to the filling, where it did indeed melt as I put the hot caramel on, but baked up surprisingly well without compromising the flavor of the caramel much, which was my concern. It might have even enhanced it. However, you can leave the milk chocolate out of the filling and just scatter chocolate chips or chopped milk chocolate on at the end if you’re a purist.

caramel bars 4

Milk Chocolate Caramel Oat Bars

Oat Base
3/4 cup (3.4 oz) all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups quick cooking oats (not instant)**
1 generous pinch salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
6 oz (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup chopped milk chocolate (like a chocolate bunny) or a handful of chocolate chips (or both)

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups Kraft caramel bits or 32 unwrapped caramels
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with non-stick foil.

Mix the flour, oats, salt, baking soda and brown sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add butter and stir with a spoon or mix with fingers until mixture is thoroughly mixed – dough should just start to come together.
Reserve a little less than half of the mixture and put it in the refrigerator. Press remaining oat mixture into bottom of pan and bake 10-12 minutes or until set. Let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Note: If you are going to use the milk chocolate, sprinkle it on when the base is fully cool.

Make caramel filling. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the caramel bits and stir to coat with butter. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until caramel is melted. Stir walnuts into caramel. Pour it over the base (this is when some of your chocolate will start to melt).

Sprinkle chilled reserved crumb mixture over top and bake for 10-12 minutes or until top layer is cooked. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Let cool completely, then lift from pan and cut with a Chef’s knife.

Makes 16 squares

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  1. says

    Anna, these look scrumptious! One question: Whenever I try to make desserts with caramel, the caramel layer always winds up hardening into a gummy, almost un-biteable slab in the middle of my cookies or bars–not very appetizing. Do you have any insight into why this happens or how I could prevent it? Thanks!! 🙂

  2. Jancd says

    This has nothing to do with today’s recipe, but I made your bridesmaid chicken salad today and I must say it is pretty amazing. I used just a hint of curry, but followed the rest of the recipe as you wrote it. I love it and can’t wait to serve it to a friend that is coming over later today. It is different from any chicken salad I have made before. The lemon and lime stand out to make it light and refreshing. Thanks for your many wonderful recipes.

  3. Laura says

    Another comment unrelated to your awesome looking bars… Thanks for the pan advice on Texas Seet Cakes. I one this weekend (adapted a bunch of recipes), and it came out perfectly!

  4. says

    Tara, the two reasons I can think of are that a) you are overcooking it or b) the recipe just needs to have some cream or butter added. For instance, in this recipe the butter helps keep the caramel from getting too chewy.

    Jan and Laura, thanks for letting me know! Jan, I don’t usually post chicken salad but I liked that one a lot. Thanks for trying it and posting a review.

  5. says

    Caramel and oats are wonderful together–these look delicious!

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