Soft oatmeal crumb bars stuffed with gooey caramel, chocolate chips, and chopped pecans. These Carmelitas use the same mixture for the crust and topping and are so easy to make!
Have you ever tried Carmelitas? If not, they’re basically an oatmeal crumb bar stuffed with caramel, chocolate, and pecans. If that sounds like a lot, I promise that these bars are actually pretty easy to make and they taste delicious too!
So what makes these bars so easy? You’ll be using the same mixture for the crust and topping. You can mix everything up in one bowl, scoop half into the pan for the crust, and set aside the other half for the topping. The layer of caramel is made with just two easy ingredients and you can prepare it in the microwave.
The last two ingredients are just chocolate chips and chopped pecans that you sprinkle on top of the caramel layer. And if you’re not a fan of pecans, you can simply leave them out and these bars still taste wonderful!
To make these Carmelitas, you’ll start out with a simple mixture of flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, butter, and old-fashioned rolled oats. You’ll whisk everything together and cut in the butter until it’s nice and crumbly, then stir in your oats. It’s similar to the crumb mixture I used in my Blueberry Crumb Bars (another delicious recipe), but with more oats and some baking soda mixed in for a little rise.
I found that the base of these Carmelitas didn’t hold up as well without prebaking the crust first. So you’ll want to press half of the mixture into the pan and bake it for about 15 minutes or just until it’s set. It’s also important to allow the crust to cool for about 10 minutes so that it’s firm enough to hold the ingredients for the filling.
To keep the filling simple, I like to use soft caramel candies and some heavy whipping cream that’s melted down in the microwave. I prefer to use Kraft soft caramel candies when I make caramel this way, you can usually find them in the candy aisle.
Once the caramel and crust have cooled slightly, you’ll pour the caramel on top of the crust, then sprinkle some chocolate chips and pecans on top. For the topping, you’ll be using the other half of the oatmeal crumb mixture and just sprinkle it on top.
It’s also best to let these bars cool completely so the caramel can firm up before you cut into them. But, I promise these bars are worth the wait!
For the crust and topping:
- 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup (75 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
For the filling:
- 25 soft caramel candies unwrapped (I use Kraft soft caramel candies)
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup (55 grams) chopped pecans
- 3/4 cup (140 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure to leave some overhang for easy removal, and set aside.
To make the crust and topping:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Add the butter and cut it into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or a fork (you may also use an electric mixer for this step) until the mixture starts to come together and is crumbly. Stir in the oats.
Scoop half of the mixture into the prepared baking pan (place the other half in the refrigerator for later use) and firmly press it down into one even layer. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes or until the top of the crust looks set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
To make the filling:
Add the caramel candies and heavy whipping cream to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 20-30 second increments, stirring well after each increment, until fully melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
Grease the sides of the pan with butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray. This step is optional, but it helps to prevent any caramel from sticking too much to the foil.
Once the crust and caramel have cooled, pour the caramel on top of the crust, then sprinkle the chopped pecans and chocolate chips on top of the caramel. Remove the other half of the topping from the refrigerator and sprinkle it on top.
Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until the topping is lightly golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into bars and enjoy!