Caramel is one of those food items that make me weak. I just can't say no to a dessert with caramel. There's something about the sweet, gooey, goodness that just makes me happy. So when I saw a photo of these caramelita bars I knew I had to make them.
What is a carmelita? Great question. It's basically an oatmeal cookie dough, topped with chocolate chips, topped with caramel, and finished off with more oatmeal cookie dough. They are amazing! Since they are so rich and sweet I managed to sneak some King Arthur Flour's whole wheat flour into these bars and no one was any wiser. I thought it actually made for a better oatmeal cookie in this treat. Why not use a healthier whole wheat flour when the rest of the cookie is filled with sugar?
The resulting bar cookie was gooey, rich, and over all delicious. The oatmeal cookie was soft and not too sweet, the chocolate chips melted and formed a semi-sweet layer, and the caramel was sweet and soft. I put these bars out at a party and they were gone within minutes. Next time I'll be making a double batch!
Whole Wheat Carmelitas (adapted from Little B Cooks)
½ c. butter (1 stick), melted
¼ c. unsweetened applesauce
¾ c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. King Arthur Flour 100% Whole Wheat Flour
1 c. Quaker quick oats
½ c. almonds, chopped
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 ¼ c. Dulce de Leche or other caramel sauce
¾ c. Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease either an 8 x 8, 9 x 9, or 7 x 11 pan.
2. In a bowl combine the butter, applesauce, and sugar. Mix well. Stir in the whole wheat flour, quick oats, almonds, vanilla, and baking soda. Mix until combined.
3. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Pour caramel over top of the chocolate chips. (Since I used Dulce de Leche I had to heat it up in the microwave for 45 seconds so that I was able to pour and spread it).
5. Crumble the remaining oatmeal mixture over the top of the caramel. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Remove from oven and set on a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before cutting into small squares.