Carmelitas

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4.78 from 9 votes
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Carmelitas are the ultimate dessert for caramel lovers. The soft, chewy bars are packed with caramel and chocolate sandwiched in between layers of buttery brown sugar and oatmeal crust/topping.

They are rich, sweet, and ooey gooey in all the right ways.

Take one bite of these bars and I am sure you will agree that carmelitas might just be the best cookie bars ever. They are tied up there with sugar cookie bars and lemon bars.

Carmelitas Cookies with sticky caramel oozing out sliced into squares and stacked on top of each other on a white plate. Pan with more bars can be seen in background.

Making these cookie bars for a party? Do yourself a favor and make a double batch of this carmelitas recipe because in my experience a tray of these soft and chewy bars never lasts long.

Ingredients

This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.

almond extract, vanilla extract, baking soda, kosher salt, semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted butter, brown sugar, caramel bits, heavy whipping cream, all-purpose flour, and old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Brown sugar– Be sure to pack the brown sugar as tight as you are able. You will be happy you did. 
  • Pure vanilla extract– Adding pure vanilla to the crust mixture gives this dough a delicious flavor.    
  • Almond extract– Adding a touch of almond extract brings in a special flavor affinity with caramel and elevates the taste of the dough. However, if you don’t have any on hand feel free to leave it out.
  • Unsalted butter– Be sure to melt the butter before adding to the brown sugar. 
  • All-purpose flour– Flour and oats make a great crust for this decadent dessert. 
  • Rolled oats– Use the old-fashioned rolled oats. This type of oat brings the perfect consistency to this dessert. Instant or quick oats will not give you the right consistency for this delicious carmelitas dessert.
  • Baking soda– Provides a rise to the crust. 
  • Kosher salt– Salt helps balance the sweetness of this dessert. The shape of kosher salt gently salts foods and enhances their flavor, and has no iodine which can taste bitter. 
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips– Semi-sweet chocolate gives a good balance of sweet and bitter chocolate. Dark chocolate would be excellent too. There is plenty of sweetness to balance the bitterness.  
  • Caramel– For this recipe, we used an 11-ounce bag of Kraft Caramel Bits but feel free to use individually wrapped caramels instead.
  • Heavy whipping cream– Combining heavy cream with melted caramel makes this dessert so rich! It provides a delicious creamy caramel texture. 

How to Make Carmelitas

This section shows you how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions. For the full printable recipe, see the recipe card below. 

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Step 2: Add brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, and almond extract (if using) to a large bowl and use a hand or stand mixer to beat on low to combine.

Two image collage. On left: glass mixing bowl with melted butter and brown sugar. On right, the same but well-mixed and combined.

Step 3: Add all-purpose flour, rolled oats, baking soda, and salt. Beat until the mixture is well combined and forms a crumbly dough. 

Two image collage. On left: glass mixing bowl with oats, baking soda, and flour added on top. On right, the same bowl with the ingredients combined to form a crumbly oat dough

Step 4: Press half of the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.

Oatmeal cookie crust pressed into the bottom of 9 x 13 pan before baking

Step 5: Meanwhile, add the caramel and heavy cream to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes and then stir. Continue microwaving in 30-second increments, stirring between each increment, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Two image collage. On left: caramel bits and heavy cream in bowl. On right: same bowl but with caramel and cream melted together to form a caramel sauce.

Step 6: When the bottom layer of dough is done baking, remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of the warm dough. Then pour the caramel sauce evenly over the chocolate chips, saving a small amount to use for drizzling over the finished bars.

Two image collage. On left: parchment lined baking pan with chocolate chips sprinkled over top of crust. On right, same but with the addition of caramel poured over them.

Step 7: Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the top of the bars and bake the bars for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Two image collage. On left, oatmeal topping crumbled on top of carmelitas. On right, the same but after baking.

Step 8: Remove the bars from the oven and drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce. Allow them to cool fully, then remove from the pan, slice into bars, and enjoy.

Carmelitas cookie bars sliced into squares and topped with a drizzle of caramel

Tips of the Best Carmelitas

  • Using parchment paper is such a big help with this Carmelitas recipe. It makes removing the bars from the pan much easier plus makes for easier clean up. You can also use aluminum foil if you do not have parchment paper. 
  • I melted the caramel and heavy cream together in the microwave but you can do it on the stovetop if you prefer.
  • Be sure to allow your oatmeal carmelitas to cool completely before cutting. This will take a few hours (I like to let them sit overnight). If you cut them too soon, you will find that the caramel is extremely hot inside and very sticky. You may use the refrigerator to speed up the cooling until the caramel center has had time to become firm. 
Thick carmelitas dessert bars stacked 3 high on a white plate

Storage

Place the Carmelitas in an airtight container and store them at room temperature for up to one week. If storing in layers place a sheet of parchment paper in between to prevent them from sticking together.

To freeze, place the bars in an airtight freezer storage container with parchment between any layers. They will freeze well for up to 3 months. Simple thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Oatmeal Carmelitas Bars topped with drizzle of caramel

Recipe FAQ

Can I use quick oats instead of old-fashioned rolled oats?

The rolled oats used in this Carmelitas recipe add the perfect texture and consistency. If you use quick or instant oats they won’t give the dough the right consistency so I recommend sticking with old-fashioned rolled oats.

Did you forget to add eggs to the recipe?

No, the recipe is correct. There are no eggs in these carmelitas cookies.

More irresistible caramel desserts

Recipe
Carmelitas Cookies with sticky caramel oozing out sliced into squares and stacked on top of each other on a white plate
Recipe
4.78 from 9 votes

Carmelitas

Author: Jaclyn
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 32 minutes
Total: 37 minutes
Carmelitas are soft, chewy cookie bars packed with caramel and chocolate sandwiched between a buttery brown sugar and oatmeal crust/topping.

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • teaspoon pure almond extract optional
  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 11 ounces caramel bits or caramel squares
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Add brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, and almond extract to a large bowl and use a hand or stand mixer to beat on low to combine.
  • Add all-purpose flour, rolled oats, baking soda, and salt. Beat until the mixture is well combined and forms a crumbly dough. 
  • Press about half of the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking dish and bake for 10 minutes (it may take a little more than half of the dough to cover the bottom).
  • Meanwhile, add the caramel and heavy cream to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes and then stir. Continue microwaving in 30-second increments, stirring between each increment, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • When the bottom layer of dough is done baking, remove from the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of the warm dough. Then pour the caramel sauce evenly over the chocolate chips, saving a small amount to use for topping the finished bars.
  • Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the top of the bars and bake the bars for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown.
  • Remove the bars from the oven and drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce. Allow the carmelitas to cool fully, then remove from the pan, slice into bars, and enjoy.

Notes

Allow your carmelitas to cool completely before cutting. This can take a few hours. If you cut them too soon, you will find that the caramel is extremely hot inside and very sticky. You may use the refrigerator to speed up the cooling until the caramel center has had time to become firm. 
Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 234kcal
Carmelitas Cookies with sticky caramel oozing out sliced into squares and stacked on top of each other on a white plate

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The Best Carmelitas - soft and chewy!
4.78 from 9 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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