If you have a sweet tooth, you’re going to love this recipe! I have a distinct memory of the first time I tasted a Carmelita bar, it was April, 1995. A cookie bar like this one is not easily forgotten. One bite of these oatmeal carmelitas and I was hooked.
They have a crust similar to a buttery oatmeal cookie, followed by a gooey caramel layer with chocolate chips and nuts. These chewy bars are a little bit of heaven, and are my favorite dessert bar.Fortunately my friend Marla quickly admitted that it wasn’t her recipe, but a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner’s recipe from the 60’s. While I still have the original recipe she gave me pre-Google, I know longer know the name of the original creator of the recipe, and the Pillsbury website doesn’t list her name either.
Ingredients for carmelita bars:
I’ve adapted this recipe slightly adding more of both nuts and chocolate chips. This is a super easy recipe that makes 36 bars. For cookie trays I like to cut them into smaller pieces because they are so rich!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups quick oats (not steel-cut!)
- 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 ounces unsalted butter
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 1 cup caramel sauce, either homemade caramel sauce, or store-bought.
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
How to make oatmeal carmelitas
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9″ baking pan. I like to use parchment paper for easy removal.
- Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and butter in a mixing bowl and mix at low speed until crumbly. Save 1/2 of the oatmeal mixture for the top of the bars.
- Press half of the oat mixture into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile in a small bowl mix caramel sauce and 3 Tablespoons flour until well mixed.
- Remove crust from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.
- Drizzle with caramel mixture.
- Sprinkle remaining half of oatmeal mixture over the top.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool one hour, then refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into 36 bars.
- For an extra decadent dessert, serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
How to store oatmeal carmelitas
This is a pretty sturdy cookie bar and will travel well if you’re planning on packing these and mailing them! They store well at room temperature in an airtight container for a week.
It goes without saying that you can vary this recipe by switching the walnuts for pecans or the semi-sweet for dark chocolate or milk chocolate chips. Sprinkle the top with a pinch of sea salt for a sweet and salty twist.
Looking for other cookie bar recipes?
Here are some more delicious recipes for dessert bars!
7 Layer or magic cookie bars is another vintage cookie bar recipe.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13" by 9" baking pan or line with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl or mixer, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt on low speed until crumbly. Reserve half of the oat mixture for the topping.
- Press half the oat mixture into the bottom of prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 minutes. While crust is baking, prepare caramel mixture.
- Mix caramel and 3 tablespoons flour until well blended.
Finishing the bars
- Remove partially baked crust from the oven. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped walnuts. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Top with remaining oatmeal mixture.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for between 18 and 22 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Cool at room temperature about 1 hour. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours to set filling. Remove from fridge and cut into 36 bars. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.
- use caramel ice cream topping as some caramel sauces are quite thin.
- Substitute pecans for walnuts.
- Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.