If you’re serious about your sweets, you are gonna’ love these Carmelitas. They’re like rich sweet caramel sandwiched between the most decadent little chocolate chip cookies and chewy oatmeal cookies together. These babies are not dainty little cookies for the faint of heart. They’re for those who’re serious about their cookie bars.
Even the name is fun to say. Kar-mel-LēēTahʹhss!! And that’s how they go down too! First, you bite into that chewy oatmeal cookie exterior. Then you taste rich sweet caramel with little chocolate bursts. Once you try these babies, you’ll pronounce it the same way.
Let’s bake this Carmelitas!!
This Carmelitas recipe is so incredibly simple, which is one of its great qualities. The rich decadent flavor is a bit deceiving but that’s how I like it. Really easy and totally awesome. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool before you dig in.
If it weren’t for my innate fear of scalding caramel, I’d probably gobble most of the pan immediately out of the oven. Here are more reasons to love ‘em!
- Really simple recipe with easy to find ingredients
- Caramel, chocolate and oatmeal cookie flavor
- Sweet hearty cookie bars cut to size
- Ideal for gifts, parties and cookie exchanges
- No special skills or gadgets requires
Making these Carmelitas is pretty simple but there are a few little tips to help you along the way. Here’s what you need to know!
For best results, mix the dry ingredients thoroughly before adding the melted butter and vanilla to the bowl. This will help ensure even dispersion for a balanced flavor profile.
Also, make sure the oven is fully preheated when you get started. With the difference in ovens and ingredients acting differently at different temperatures, it’s just easier. You’ll get the best results with a 350-degree oven.
These sweet decadent cookie bars are made with wholesome everyday ingredients. You’ve probably got most of what you need already. Here’s what you need to pull out for this Carmelitas recipe.
Flour – I use all-purpose flour for this recipe. Most of us already have it and it works well for that oatmeal cookie exterior.
Leavening Agent – You’ll need a little baking soda to help these babies bake upright. Make sure it’s a fresh batch.
Oats – Quick-cooking oats are ideal for the oatmeal cookie exterior of these beautiful Carmelitas. If you regularly make oatmeal cookies, I’m sure your norm’al be just fine.
Salt – Adding a small amount of salt actually reduces bitterness and enhances sweetness. OMG! ~ That rich creamy caramel couldn’t get much better!
Butter – You’ll need unsalted butter for this recipe [melted]. If you use salted butter and add salt, it’ll be too much. Plus, the salt in the butter won’t perform as we want it to by itself. Trust me on this one.
Sweetener – Use light or dark brown sugar, just make sure it’s packed so the measurement is right. I like to use dark for this recipe because it’s got more molasses in it. It just makes my Carmelitas oh so good!
Caramel Filling – Your filling is made with soft caramel squares and heavy whipping cream. Using a good quality caramel will yield much more decadent results. Grab your favorite brand and set a few aside to satisfy that intense craving while you’re waiting on your baked Carmelitas to cool.
Other Goodies – Semi-sweet chocolate chips and pecans give these yummy Carmelitas a chocolaty nutty crunch.
Storing these awesome Carmelitas is as easy as putting them in an airtight container and hiding it!! Seriously, these get gobbled up quick!
They’ll keep fine on the counter, but I like to keep ‘em in the fridge right up until serving time.
Can You Freeze This?
Yep! These babies freeze up great if they’re prepared properly.
This Carmelitas recipe makes an 8×8 pan but you can easily double the recipe using two pans. Once they cool just wrap one of the pans and toss it in the freezer while you serve the others.
Make Ahead Tips
Prepping to make these rich hearty Carmelitas is simple. It’s already an easy recipe that comes together quickly but there are a couple of things you can do to make it even more convenient.
The flour, oats, brown sugar and salt can be assembled and stored in a large mason jar or in another container. You can also go ahead and unwrap the caramel squares and store them in a container.
I like to use the same one I’ll be using to make the caramel sauce. It’s a convenience thing. The rest is downhill.
How Long Can You Keep This?
These decadent Carmelitas will last about a week on the counter or in the fridge. Trust me, they’ll get gobbled up way before. If you toss baked cooled Carmelitas in the freezer, then you can keep them up to 3 months.
This Carmelitas recipe is so flexible you can create a ton of different flavors without much work. You can really get creative here. Just a couple of simple suggestions may give you some ideas.
Can I Add Peanut Butter?
Oh yeah! If peanut butter oatmeal bars are more your style, try spreading some peanut butter on the bottom crust before adding the pecans and chocolate chips.
Your Carmelitas will taste like peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with creamy caramel in the middle. Of course, you can keep it simple and just make peanut butter bars….
Can I Add Berries To This Recipe?
That’s kind of up to you. Just remember, if you put berries in your Carmelitas recipe it’ll definitely have to be stored in the fridge and it may not last as long.
You could always make strawberry chocolate chip cookies but we’re kind of on a cookie bar kick here. It’d probably be easier to just make lemon blueberry bars or strawberry bars because the caramel is supposed to be the star of the Carmelitas show.
Can I Add Chocolate?
Why not? Try spreading Nutella instead of peanut butter over the bottom crust (lightbulb!). You can also add chocolate chips to the oatmeal cookie dough. Although, adding cocoa to your Carmelitas may dry out the oatmeal batter too much.
The only thing that even comes close to their sweet chocolaty flavor may be Mexican hot chocolate cookies! Of course, we’re moving away from the bars here.
Can I Add Coconut To This Recipe?
Oh yeah, baby! You can try substituting shredded coconut for the oatmeal in your decadent Carmelitas recipe. You can also take things in another direction and make coconut bars or even coconut cream pie bars. They are soooo good!
If you wanna’ keep things really simple you can also make coconut chocolate chip cookies that’ll rock their world.
Can I Add Pumpkins?
Oh, I just love pumpkin bars, but I don’t know about incorporating pumpkin into your Carmelitas recipe. I think it would totally change things. Now, pumpkin oatmeal cookies may cure that craving – or even pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Yum!!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 (10-ounce) bag soft caramel squares, unwrapped
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8X8 inch baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum with a 2-inch overhang on both sides.
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking soda, oats, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and melted butter to the bowl. Stir until combined. The dough will be crumbly.
- Divide dough in half, pressing one half of the dough into prepared 8" x 8" pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- While crust is baking, melt caramel squares and heavy cream in the microwave for 2 minutes on 50% power. Stir caramels and cream until smooth and completely melted. Return to microwave at 30-second intervals at 50% power until completely melted and caramel is smooth when stirred. Set aside to let cool and thicken.
- Sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans over slightly cooled crust.
- Spread cooled, melted caramel sauce over chocolate chips and pecans.
- Break the remaining dough into small pieces then lay the pieces in a single layer over the caramel, chocolate chips, and pecans.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown on the top. Let Caramelitas cool before cutting.
These super-sweet chewy Carmelitas are some of my favorite holiday treats. You can cut them as large or as small as you want. I like to cut them bigger and eat them for dessert with a dollop of whipped cream. It’s beyond delicious.
Anyway, you’ll need some other recipes too so I’ve gathered some of my favorite pecan cookies recipes for you to try.
- Pecan Shortbread Cookies – Homemade version of a classic treat.
- Butter Pecan Cookies – Crumbly buttery cookies with a nutty surprise.
- Pecan Pie Bars – The best part of sugary sweet pecan pie in servable-sized portions.
- Pecan Pie Cookies – Loving sweet pecan pie, no utensils required!
- Coconut Pecan Cookies – Coconut, pecans, cookies, oh my!
When that super sweet caramel craving sneaks up on you, grab your go-to Carmelitas recipe and spend a few minutes in the kitchen. When you need a sweet holiday tag along, Carmelitas to the rescue. Need a quick dessert? Carmelitas!
Once you taste these, you’ll find excuses to make them. They’re just that good! Now, apron-up and let’s do this!