Years ago, when I was still single in the city (and pretending I could be as cool as Carrie Bradshaw), I used to go to a place called Teaism. It sold lots and lots of tea, but also really good food. One day I walked in and noticed a salted oatmeal cookie. I remember thinking, “That’s gross.”
Oh, I was so young and stupid. The salted caramel trend was still a few years away from starting and I never stopped to consider that salted baked goods were the best thing to happen to the dessert industry since peanut butter and chocolate. But like I said, I was not that clever. I was in my twenties and had perfect skin. But I was dumb.
Anyway, eventually I climbed onboard the salty dessert bandwagon. And here I stay, until long after it will be considered trendy. I’ll be one of those annoying grandmothers who still bakes salted caramel stuff while her grandchildren roll their eyes and say, “But Grandma, it’s all about sardines dipped in ganache right now.”
These bars seem wholesome because they’re full of oats. I mean, they are wholesome, but they still have chocolate and caramel and butter. Butter happens. Accept it.
That said, these bars don’t contain flour, so they are healthier. Instead, I’ve used my trusty oat flour to make these work. And my lord, do they ever. They’re sticky, too! You’ll be licking caramel off your fingers for a while, which will just prolong an already fun snack!
When you make these bars, you layer the various elements. But when they bake up, the layers are indistinguishable. So why layer, you ask? Because when you put salted caramel between the oatmeal dough and add in some chocolate, it gives the middle an irresistibly chewy, gooey texture. The chocolate I used came from Trader Joe’s. It’s a butterscotch salted caramel covered in chocoalte. But if you can’t get that in your area, you can use another kind of chocolate-covered salted caramel, or even Rolo minis with sea salt sprinkled on top! It’s all good.
And in case you didn’t realize it, chewy and anything with oatmeal go together, but not like peas and carrots. I’ve never understood that expression. It just grosses me out in a vaguely unpleasant way.
These will not have that effect on you, I promise. They’re delicious. Here’s how to get your chew on!
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 2 cups oat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 jar salted caramel sauce (I used Smuckers brand)
- 1 package chocolate-covered salted caramels (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
Preheat the oven to 350. Coat a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
In a bowl, combine the oats, oat flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again. Gradually add the oat mixture, beating each time until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
Press half of the mixture (it will be sticky, so use a spatula) into the pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven. Pour on the caramel sauce (the whole jar) and then sprinkle on the chocolate-covered salted caramels evenly. Drop the remaining dough on the top, patting down. You need not cover the whole pan, but try to make sure that the dough is distributed throughout the pan.
Bake for 30-35 mintues untl the middle is no longer jiggly.
Allow the bars to cool and then cute into squares. Store in an airtight container.