Easy Caramelitas are chewy chocolatey caramel layered dessert bars. Gooey caramel filling with chocolate chips and pecans between buttery oatmeal shortbread.
A cross between Five Layer Bars and Oatmeal Cookies plus gooey caramel, this tasty, old-fashioned Cookie Bar Recipe for is perfect for holidays, potlucks, or whenever you get a craving… and you’ll be craving them a lot!
The best desserts are full of rich, sweet flavors and gooey, melty goodness. These old-fashioned Caramelitas bars have everything you want in a cookie bar and then some! While this new recipe is easy to make there is a little extra prep time, but it is so worth it for that first warm, gooey bite.
One of the things that makes this Caramelitas recipe so easy is that the oat cookie crust is actually pulling double duty as the crumb mixture topping too. The buttery oat shortbread is made with ingredients you definitely have on hand. To keep the crumb mixture from separating, keep the topping portion in the refrigerator while the crust bakes and caramel mixture sets.
Caramelitas are a pantry and budget friendly recipe, with almost no special ingredients. Store bought caramels are about the same price of chocolate chips, and you can pick them up in the candy section of the store.
If you have the ingredients on hand, make these Salted Caramels instead melting store-bought caramels with heavy cream. Just prepare the sea salt caramel recipe, spread the caramel sauce over the crust, and set like usual.
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A little goes a long way with these rich Caramelitas Cookie Bars but you can easily make larger batches for potlucks and cookie exchanges. Double the servings for large crowd by using the slider bar in the recipe card. Bake the double batch in a 9×13 baking dish. If you prefer a thinner cookie crust, bake the bars in a 9×9 baking pan or 9×13 pan without increasing the ingredients.
You want to cool your Carmelita Cookie Bars before cutting them to serve, otherwise the caramel bits and chocolate bits will ooze out. Not that gooey, oozing caramel and chocolate is bad! You could always scoop them while warm into a bowl and top with Vanilla Ice Cream for a rich, decadent sundae. Drizzle your sundae with Salted Caramel Sauce and sprinkle with crushed pecans to take it over the top!
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VARIATIONS ON CARMELITAS
- Coconut: Sprinkle toasted coconut over the caramel mixture or on top of the crumb mixture for an extra layer for chewy, tasty goodness.
- Sweetened Condensed Milk: Drizzle a half can of sweetened condensed milk over the crust before baking, like you would any of our baked and no-bake Layer Bars.
- Caramel Sauce: Use caramel ice cream topping, make dulce de leche with condensed milk, or use our Salted Caramel Fondue instead melting store-bought caramels.
- Chocolate Chips: Instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips, try dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or mini chocolate chips.
- Layers: Layered cookie bars have (almost) no limits! Sprinkle a layer of toffee bits, chopped candy bars, raisins, peanut butter chips, or caramel chips. You can also use chopped walnuts, almonds, or peanuts instead of pecans.
- Cookie Dough: For the easiest Carmelitas, use a pre-made cookie dough. Press half of a roll of sugar cookie or chocolate chip cookie dough into a prepared pan. Top with the caramel filling and let set before adding the pecans and remaining cookie dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
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HOW TO STORE CARAMELITAS
- Serve: Caramelitas are best at room temperature. Keep covered in a cool, dry place for up to 5 days. If the temperature is too hot, store in the refrigerator.
- Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Layer parchment paper between layers of cookie bars so they don’t stick together. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Freeze: Cut before storing in a sealed container with parchment paper between layers of bars. Freeze for up to 2 months and set on the counter until soft before enjoying.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar , packed
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 24 soft caramels , unwrapped
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup walnuts , chopped
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray an 8x8 baking pan with baking spray.
- To your food processor add butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, flour, baking powder and salt.
- Pulse until coarse crumbs form then add in the rolled oats and stir.
- Press half the filling into your baking pan gently and bake for 10 minutes.
- While crust is baking add caramels and heavy cream to a bowl and microwave in 30 second increments until smooth.
- Pour caramel over the crust once out of the oven then let cool for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Mix the rest of the topping with the walnuts and chocolate chips.
- Add the crumble mixture over the cooled caramel.
- Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
One of my all-time favorite recipes! The perfect combination of ingredients!!
I’m glad to know you love them so much!
Wow this turned out so delicious and it was so easy! Thank you!
You’re welcome, Allyson.
These were amazing! The caramel really made these cookie bars extra tasty!