|Oatmeal Caramel Bars|
Okay, so here's my crazy train of thought on these Oatmeal Caramel Bars. First of all, I volunteered to bring a dessert (2 doz.) to Summer Library Night at my school. My first thought was to make simple chocolate chip cookies to use up the huge bag of Nestle chocolate chips I have. No, wait! Brownies. No, a pan of brownies and a batch of chocolate chip cookies. No, wait! I'm on summer vacation--I should make some cute rainbow cupcakes. Funfetti cupcakes. No, rainbow cupcakes. MINI RAINBOW CUPCAKES! Just buy some Oreos. Reread the email from the teacher in charge: cookies and bars are best. Dang. Wait! Do your own thing. Tonia's not the boss of you. Well, I'd have to go to the store for cake mix anyway. Brownies again. Wait. Pan of brownies and a pan of oatmeal bars. I have those caramel bits I need to use. I could mix those in. Look up recipe for oatmeal bars. Haven't I seen oatmeal bars with caramel or something? Google "oatmeal caramel bars." Find recipe on allrecipes.com that looks good. Unwrapped caramels? Oh! I have those caramel bits! Oh, but I used some for the banana oatmeal cookies the other day, and I don't think there will be enough. I think I have enough cream to make my own caramel. If I use my own caramel, then I can't use regular chocolate chips. I'll use Dove milk chocolate. No, dark. I need to save my milk chocolate for the English toffee I'll be taking to Florida for my brother. Dang, apparently 240 degrees is too high for the caramel. I need to add a little heavy cream. Dang it! I used my last cup of heavy cream for the caramel! Go to the store, get cream, smooth out caramel, proceed with the recipe.
I am so thankful for summer vacation that gives me the mental and physical space and time to do this.
These bars are pretty darned rich, so I suggest cutting them relatively small. I cut mine to make 40 bars from a 9x13 inch pan, and I think that's a good size. I also noticed that there's a lot of butter residue on the parchment, so next time I make these, I might consider reducing the butter to just one cup. I enjoyed the bar I ate, but it was a corner piece. The middle pieces look pretty gooey, so if you like sweet and gooey, this will probably be right up your alley. I'll add more info. if I get any noteworthy responses when I take them to school tonight.
By the way, I didn't make any brownies.
Oatmeal Caramel Bars
--adapted from allrecipes.com
- 32 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped OR homemade caramel (recipe below)
- 5 tablespoons heavy cream (omit this if you're making homemade caramel)
- 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 cups rolled oats (quick or old fashioned, or a mixture)
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or 14 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, chopped)
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt together the caramels and heavy cream, stirring occasionally until smooth (or make homemade caramel using the recipe below).
Line a 9x13 inch pan with non-stick foil or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the melted butter until well blended.
Press a little more than half of the mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Reserve the rest.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove and sprinkle with chocolate. Pour the caramel mixture over the top and then crumble the remaining crust mixture over everything.
Return to the oven and bake for an additional 20-22 minutes, or until the top is lightly toasted.
Allow to cool completely. Pull the entire thing out of the pan using the edges of the foil/parchment.
Cut into squares with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a large heavy saucepan, combine cream, corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Once it's boiling, clip on the candy thermometer and cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 230 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove pan from heat, carefully add vanilla extract and stir. Pour into a heat-proof bowl and set aside while you prepare the bars.
Note: If you decide to use this homemade caramel, you're likely to end up with a little extra caramel to eat on the side.