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Chocolate, caramel, and oats join forces in this Carmelitas recipe for the best cookie/bar combo dessert OF ALL TIME. Ever. Like, in the history of the world. They are like an incredibly soft, chewy oatmeal cookie loaded up with chocolate chips and plenty of gooey caramel, but in bar form.

Okay, maybe these S’mores Bars could give them a run for their money, but Carmelitas are pretty darn incredible. And if you like desserts with oats, be sure to try my Toffee Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Homemade Iced Oatmeal Cookies, or Oatmeal Rolled Sugar Cookies next!

An image of chocolate oatmeal caramel carmelita bars cut into squares.

I guarantee that everyone will love you if you show up at a friend’s house or at work with a plate of these rich, wonderful bars. They are perfect for sharing although you may just want to make a double batch!

It’s so hard to resist the siren call of gooey, melted caramel, but it’s practically impossible when it’s nestled in every nook and cranny of chocolate-laden oatmeal bars.

An image of carmelita bars with melted caramel stacked on top of each other.

Don’t hate me, but you’re going to have to wait at least a few hours to enjoy these. It takes a while for the caramel to cool down and the bars to set up. 

Although you could always throw caution to the wind and just scoop out a serving and top it with ice cream. I literally just came up with that and now I am dying to try carmelitas pizookie-style in a skillet!

An image of oat and caramel bars cut into squares. 

What are Carmelitas?

I have no idea when or where carmelitas were created and a google search didn’t yield any reliable results. The name sounds like it could be Spanish, but I don’t see anything about this dessert that would indicate a Mexican or Hispanic origin.

Although if you wanted to give it a Spanish flair, you could swap out the caramel layer for dulce de leche and it would be incredibly delicious.

Wherever and whoever invented carmelitas, they were brilliant because these layered cookie bars have it all. They are chewy, crispy, soft, gooey, and absolutely irresistible!

An image of gooey carmelita chocolate, oats, and caramel bars.

How to Make Carmelitas

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9×9-inch square baking pan with a parchment paper sling. It’s tempting to skip this step, but it makes it easy to lift the bars out and cut them later after they have cooled completely. Which is so much easier than cutting them in the pan!

Go ahead and unwrap the caramels now before mixing the oatmeal cookie layer.

An image of unwrapped Werther's original chewy caramels in a saucepan with cream.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla together, then add in the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Stir by hand until everything is combined.

3. Press half of the oatmeal dough evenly into the prepared pan. It will be a very thin layer, but don’t worry, you’re doing it right!

 A collage of images showing the steps for how to make the oatmeal cookie layer of carmelita bars.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, just until the bottom layer is barely golden and starting to set.

5. While the bottom layer bakes, heat the unwrapped caramels and cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the caramels are melted and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat once the caramel is melted.

6. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the partially baked bottom layer, then pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips. Scatter the remaining oatmeal dough over the caramel by breaking apart small chunks. No need to worry about completely covering the caramel. Gaps are just fine!

A collage of images showing how carmelita bars are layered with an oatmeal cookie layer, chocolate chips, and melted caramel.

7. Bake for another 16-18 minutes, until the edges are a golden brown. The middle will continue to set as the bars cool. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely. This should be at least 2-3 hours, before cutting into squares. If you try slicing them sooner, you will have an ooey-gooey (albeit delicious) mess on your hands.

An image of carmelita bars in a parchment paper sling on a cutting board before being cut into squares. 

Salted Caramel Carmelitas

If you love salted caramel, you might want to try sprinkling 1/2 teaspoon to 1 full teaspoon of coarse salt on top of these bars right when they come out of the oven for salted caramel Carmelitas.

An image of carmelita bars that have been cut into squares on a wooden cutting board.

Can you reheat the carmelitas?

If you’re looking for a way to bring back that slightly warm and gooey flavor and feel from when the carmelitas were fresh from the oven, reheating them can do the trick.

Simply place them one at a time in the microwave for about 20 seconds and you should have a treat that’s ready to eat.

An image of oatmeal cookie bars with caramel and chocolate.

Do you like caramel as much as I do? Check out these recipes that you’re going to love!

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Carmelitas
Yield: 16 Servings

Carmelitas

Chocolate, caramel, and oats join forces in this Carmelitas recipe for the best cookie/bar combo dessert OF ALL TIME. Ever. Like, in the history of the world. They are like an incredibly soft, chewy oatmeal cookie loaded up with chocolate chips and plenty of gooey caramel, but in bar form.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 48 minutes

Ingredients

Oatmeal Dough

  • 3/4 cup salted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats (not quick or instant oats)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 1 1/3 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 40 caramels (like Werther's chewy caramels) unwrapped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x9-inch square baking pan with a parchment paper sling to make it easy to lift the bars out and cut them later after they have cooled completely.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla together.
  3. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt, stirring until everything is combined.
  4. Press half of the oatmeal dough evenly into the prepared pan. It will be a very thin layer, but don't worry!
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes until just golden.
  6. While the bottom layer bakes, heat the unwrapped caramels and cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the caramels are melted and smooth. Remove from the heat.
  7. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the partially baked bottom layer, then pour the caramel over the chocolate chips. Scatter the remaining oatmeal dough over the caramel by breaking apart small chunks. No need to worry about completely covering the caramel. Gaps are just fine!
  8. Bake for another 16-18 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. The middle will continue to set as the bars cool. Remove from the oven and cool completely, at least 2 hours, before cutting into squares. You can slice them sooner, but they won't slice clean and you will have an ooey-gooey (albeit delicious) mess on your hands.

Notes

  • These can be made in an 8x8-inch pan, but they will take slightly longer to cook and be slightly thicker.
  • You can use an 11-ounce package of Kraft caramel bits in place of the soft caramels to save time unwrapping.
  • Carmelitas will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 228mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 3g