So, you know when you watch a TV show or a movie and there is a super mysterious character and you’re like, “Hey. That guy/girl. He’s/She’s something interesting. He’s/She’s got a back story.” For some time now, I have shared these recipes and kitchen experiments with you and have talked about my standing mixer, Carmelita. I have doted on her, worked her like crazy and changed her attachment with care. However, I’ve never really explained her namesake. I’ve never explained how she got her name or why I chose that name for her.
Today, that changes.
Today, I reveal the recipe that inspired the name of my standing mixer. I know.
I see you shiver with antici
Carmelitas! A few years ago, I was searching online for a recipe. This recipe needed to be something different. It needed to be hand held like a cookie, have some chocolate in it because duh, and NOT be a traditional blondie. Disclaimer: There is nothing wrong with blondies. I’m a fan. But I needed something different that day. That’s all. Please do not send me hate mail defending the good of blondies. End Disclaimer.
I found this recipe at Averie Cooks and immediately was in heaven. I’ve made them half a dozen times over the last couple of years for various parties or to help friends through breakups. They are amazing! I loved them so much that when I got my standing mixer, all shiny and yellow and pretty, I could think of no other name for her. Carmelita was born!
Let’s see how we do this voodoo that we do so well.
Melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, flour, rolled oats (the old school kind, not the quick cook kind), baking soda, salt, heavy cream, semi sweet chocolate chunks and soft caramel candies are what these little devils are all about. And yes. The caramels must be the chewy kind. The hard candy will not work for this. Trust me. I made that mistake for you. You’re welcome.
First things first. We are going to make some oatmeal cookie dough. That sounds like fun, right? Ok.
Get your melted butter pour it into a medium sized mixing bowl. To it, add the brown sugar and vanilla. Whisk until it is all smooth and the butter is completely incorporated into the sugar. The fat and water in the butter will want to separate. I’m realizing a lot of baking is trying to get butter to stop having a personality complex. God butter! Just get yourself together! Literally.
To this, we are going to add the flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is well mixed together. This is going to be all gooey and thick and delicious.
You are going to want to just add the chocolate chunks and sit on the couch with it. You are going to want to marathon Bones and cry at lots of things and laugh at lots of things and plan a life with your oatmeal cookie dough and David Boreanaz.
Don’t do that.
Except the part about David Boreanaz. I mean, if you can figure that out, you go. You go now.
But really, set it aside and prepare your baking dish.
I use an 8×8 baking dish. Mine is glass and it works perfectly. If you have a metal one, especially if it is dark, you might adjust the baking time.
Now, you want to line it with aluminum foil. The caramel is going to be a straight up liquid during this, so you need that foil or clean up will be just…stupid. Once you have the dish lined, lightly spray with baking spray and pour half the cookie dough into the dish. Spread it out with your wooden spoon so it evenly coats the bottom of the baking dish.
Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Double check that an inserted toothpick comes out clean and set on a wire rack to cool while you prepare the caramel.
This process is a little tedious, but it is totally worth it. You are creating a creamy caramel sauce. This is the thing that makes these bars so special. It is the glitter of the recipe. So. Put the caramels into a microwave safe bowl. Pour the cream over them.
Microwave 20 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir with a regular table spoon. It’s gonna suck. You’re gonna be like, “Man, I could be doing other things. Things that do not include my spoon getting stuck in this freaking caramel right now.” Just do it. The stirring helps to break down the caramel, integrate the cream and also lowers the temperature of the caramel so the candy doesn’t overcook during the subsequent heatings. Keep doing this (nuke, stir, nuke, stir) until the mixture is shiny and smooth. It took me 3 rounds. Your mileage may vary.
Remember that baking dish. Get it. Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chunks on top of the base layer. Then, pour all of this caramel on top of the chocolate chunks. If you’re feeling particularly sassy, you can crack some sea salt on this caramel. It’s pretty fantastic. Top the entire thing with the remaining oatmeal dough mixture. I dug in there and got my hands dirty to make sure I crumbled it evenly over everything.
Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Edges will be golden brown and the center will be bubbly.
Now, you have GOT to trust me on this. Do. Not. Try. To eat these yet. That caramel is molten liquid. Not only will you make a massive massive mess, you will probably hurt yourself.
Let the dish cool on the wire rack for 1 hour. After that hour, cover it and place it in the fridge for 3-4 hours. The caramel will firm up, but it won’t harden. You will still be able to cut it.
After that time, cut away! I kind of lift the entire thing, aluminum foil and all, out of the dish and peel away the layer of foil before starting surgery. It is still kind of a labor of love, but it works pretty well and it isn’t anywhere near as messy as it would be without the foil.
Here’s the thing. These guys are so amazing. They have everything! Cookie dough, chocolate, caramel, oatmeal for the health conscious people AND they are handheld! They won’t last long wherever you bring them and they really are super simple to put together.
Easy and tasty? Yes please.
The next time someone asks you to bring something for a dessert, I’m telling you, ditch the cookies and bring these instead. You’ll be a hero. 🙂
Nosh on, friends!
Yield: 16 bars Prep: 15 minutes Bake: 25 minutes total Chill: 4-5 hours total
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup rolled oats (not quick cook oats or Minute Oats)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
35-40 soft caramels
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chunks
- Preheat oven to 350°
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, melted butter and vanilla.
- Add flour, oats, baking soda and salt to butter mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until completely combined. Mixture will be very thick.
- Line an 8×8 baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly spray with baking spray. Pour half the oatmeal mixture in and use wooden spoon to spread evenly along the bottom of the baking dish.
- Bake 10 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the caramel sauce.
- Place the caramels in a microwave safe bowl and pour the cream over the top of the candies. Microwave for 20 seconds, then stir the caramels and cream. Continue to melt the caramels in 20 second bursts, stirring between each round until the mixture is smooth and shiny.
- Evenly sprinkle chocolate chunks onto oatmeal mixture in baking dish. Pour caramel over chocolate chunks. Crumble remaining half of oatmeal mixture on top of the caramel.
- Bake 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool 1 hour on a wire rack. Cover and place in fridge for 3-4 hours to continue cooling and to set caramel.
- Cut and enjoy!