Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oatmeal Carmelitas

The universe wants you to make this treat.  Really. 
You see, every so often, a specific recipe overwhelms the blogosphere.  Usually it's a viral thing - one popular blog posts something and suddenly everyone's making it.
But this recipe was different because last fall, a few of us heard the carmelita call individually.  First, I got the recipe in my Martha Stewart "Cookie of the Day" email.  A week later, Framed posted the recipe after seeing it in Everyday Food.  A couple months later, Kelli tasted a version in a bakery on Cape Cod and loved the bar so much that she recreated the recipe from scratch.
But this isn't a new recipe; versions of Oatmeal Carmelitas have been around since Erlyce Larson's recipe won the Pillsbury Bakeoff in 1967.
So why the sudden resurgence last fall?  The only thing I can think of is this: the universe wanted us to know how awesome these are. 
And who am I to argue with the universe?  I made one batch and knew they'd become a staple.
A couple words of warning though: 
1) With a buttery brown sugar crust similar to that of Oatmeal Lemon Creme Bars and a rich caramel filling textured with chocolate chips, these bars pack a sugary punch. If you've been wondering if that aching tooth has a cavity, bite into one of these - you'll know right away whether or not a trip to the dentist is in your future.
2) When I took these to the office, we ended up with trails of oatmeal crumbs between the snack table and each person's cubicle.  So unless you're wearing lederhosen and hoping to find your way out of the forest without getting eaten by a witch, make sure you have a napkin handy to catch those buttery crumbs!
On behalf of all the other bloggers who heard the carmelita call last fall, I'd like to thank the universe. We appreciate your help in finding crowd-pleasing, self-indulgent recipes.  Keep 'em coming, please.

Oatmeal Carmelitas
adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 48 soft caramel-candy cubes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13" pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each short side.

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

3. Stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal; press half of mixture onto bottom of lined pan.

4. Bake until just set and starting to color around edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes.

5. Sprinkle crust with chocolate chips; drizzle with caramel mixture. Top with remaining crumb mixture. Bake until pale golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan before lifting bars out onto cutting board and cutting into squares.  For easier cutting, after bars have cooled, place in refrigerator until firm, then cut into bars.  Let come to room temperature before serving.

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