I have to apologize. I didn’t quite realize that I’d pressed the button of a potentially lethal calorie bomb. This page is about to explode, so close it quickly before the butter gets the better of you. Yes, it’s rich, but it’s not my fault if winter temperatures are setting in.
I ate these Caramelita Bars for the first time in San Francisco and have always remembered them fondly. So now I bring you my version: a moist, soft dough made with oatmeal, a layer of caramel, pecans, and chocolate, all covered by a crisp oatmeal topping. I did say ‘lethal.’ You’ve been warned.
Recipe for 9 (or 36 bites) Caramelita Bars
• 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons / 160 g butter, very soft or just melted
• Generous ¾ cup / 170 g brown sugar (or light brown sugar)
• 1 cup plus scant 1/2 cup / 6 oz. / 175 g flour
• ¼ teaspoon baking soda
• 1 1/4 cups / 100 g oatmeal, quick-cooking rolled oats
• ¾ cup / 250 g caramel sauce (click here for the recipe)
• 1 scant cup / 3 ½ oz. / 100 g whole pecans
• 5 oz. / 150 g chocolate discs, or roughly chopped baking chocolate
• 5 tablespoons / 70 g butter
• 2 ½ tablespoons / 35 g brown sugar
• 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 70 g flour
• 3 tablespoons / 35 g granulated white sugar
• 4 tablespoons / 35 g oatmeal, quick-cooking rolled oats
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Line an 8-inch / 21 cm square pan with wax or parchment paper.
To prepare the base, begin by combining the butter and brown sugar.
Add the flour, baking soda, and oatmeal.
Mix with a flexible spatula just until smooth.
Spread out evenly on the base of the prepared pan.
Flatten lightly, but don’t crush it.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Pour over the caramel sauce. It’ll melt instantaneously. You can either make your own, or use store bought caramel sauce.
Spread over the pecans and chocolate.
Here, I used milk caramel discs made by chocolate maker Barry.
Prepare the topping, following the directions for the base. It will form a crumble-type texture. Scatter it over evenly in large chunks.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the topping is a light golden color.
Cut into 9 generous portions. Oh, you can cut them small if you insist. It’s rich, after all …