Oatmeal Caramelitas

It is with bittersweet pangs that I write this post. Sweet, because, OMG, look at that caramel! Bitter, because these babies are long gone.

When I peeked in the baking pan this morning for a little after-breakfast treat, I discovered that my husband had taken every last bar, except one. I was crestfallen, and pretty angry.

I would have called him up and shouted at him a bit, if I hadn’t told him the night before ‘Get these things out of here! Take them to work! I am appalled by how many I’ve eaten today!” Lucky, I married a very smart man who did take them to work, but left me one, because he knew I’d regret it and want one more bite.

If you enjoyed Aunt Fannie’s Toffee Chew Bars, or these butterscotch bars, I promise you will love these too.A crumbly, buttery, slightly salty, oatmeal crust sandwiches a super-chewy, beautiful layer of copper caramel. That’s it.

The original recipe calls for a layer of pecans and chocolate chips beneath the caramel robe. Feel free to go over the top and toss these goodies in. I prefer my sticky caramel sin unadulterated.

The crust is easy and the caramel is too, although anytime you have to get out a candy thermometer it feels a little fussy. Don’t stress though, it’s not that bad. And if you don’t pour all of the caramel into the bars, and save a quarter cup or so for a cook’s treat, I won’t tell.

Oatmeal Caramelitas
adapted from Sugar, Sugar, by Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero

Oatmeal Crust
from Sugar, Sugar

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 cups quick-cooking oats ( I used old fashioned, and everything was fine)

Caramel Layer
adapted from www.giverslog.com

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and butter a 9×13 inch glass baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour to butter mixture, and mix until just combined.  Fold in oats. The dough will be crumbly.

Press half of the dough into baking pan, and bake for 10 minutes to set.

While the crust is baking, get on with the caramel. In a heavy 4 quart saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter over low heat. When melted, add sugar, and stir until combined. Turn heat up to medium-low, and add corn syrup and condensed milk. Stir until combined.

Turn heat up to medium-high, and bring to a boil while stirring frequently. When boiling, clip in a candy thermometer, reduce heat to medium, and continue to stir and cook until you reach soft-ball stage, 240 degrees.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool slightly.

This took me about 15 minutes, but total time will depend upon your stove and pan thickness.

Pour caramel over oatmeal crust. Sprinkle the remaining dough evenly over the top. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, until a beautiful golden brown.  You can dig in right then, but the caramel will be hot and runny. If you wait until they completely cool, you can cut them into lovely small squares, which you will eat at an alarming rate.


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