You have heard me say it before: The bar cookies is the perfect confection for our hectic times. Once the pan is ready, the batch is baked all at once so no one has to prepare sheets and sheets of little blobs of dough. And how many you get from a pan, depends on how big you cut the squares.
Oatmeal Caramel Bars are sturdy treats that start with a layer of what I would call an oatmeal shortbread. The buttery bottom layer is baked for just 10 minutes and then the rest of the ingredients are layered on top.
Making these sweet babies a bit easier is caramel ice cream topping. Oh sure, you can unwrap individual caramels and melt them in a saucepan on the stove. You could. That cancels the time-saving benefit of these bars. If I want to spend extra time, I toast the pecans to enhance their earthy nuttiness. I leave the pieces in big chunks because I like the way they look when the bars are cooked. The chocolate chips melt but the nuts leave a mosaic pattern.
I initially made these cookies as a Christmas project. They look nice on the Christmas cookie tray, but they are appropriate year-round. Because they last in the refrigerator at least a week if well-wrapped, they are excellent candidates for work, camp or school lunch boxes.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups quick-cooking rolled oats
- ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ (1 ½ sticks) butter, melted
- 1 cup chocolate chip
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup caramel ice cream topping
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil and spritz with non-stick spray. Leave some of the foil overhanging the pan so you can lift the bars out easier and move to a cutting board.
- In large bowl, blend all crust ingredients at low speed until crumbly. Press half of crumb mixture in bottom of greased pan. Reserve remaining crumb mixture for topping. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until slightly browned.
- Meanwhile, in small bowl combine caramel topping and 3 tablespoons flour. Set aside.
- Sprinkle warm crust with chocolate chips and nuts. Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.
- Return to oven and bake an additional 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool completely. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set.