Recipe Review: Carmelitas

Carmelitas

Friends, sometimes we can recognize trouble from the start. All it takes is one look. But how often do you turn away and how often do you continue forward?

This week, I invited trouble. I baked a batch of Carmelitas. Caramel is layered between chocolate chips, and a buttery oatmeal cookie crust.

The exact history of Oatmeal Carmelitas is hazy. It may go as far back as 1967. Bakers can’t agree on what to call it, some a cookie, others a bar. Bakers don’t agree on the recipes either. Some might use salted caramel, add pecans or even dare to double ingredients for a 9×13 pan.

Yet despite these differences, there is a consensus on taste – wonderful, dangerous, and the best cookie ever. 

Hence, as I browsed the most popular Carmelitas on Pinterest, I knew the magnitude of my path. I chose the recipe by Averie Sunshine. She incorporates 1 TB of vanilla and notes where salt could be added if salted caramel is desired.

The ingredients and measurements seemed perfect as is, so my changes were negligible.

  • I used an 11 oz. bag of Kraft Caramel Bits instead of the standard caramel squares. I wanted some modicum of natural sugar and butter amidst the corn syrup and palm oil.
  • As usual, I reduced the oven temperature to 325 degrees for my glass pan.

Once the Carmelitas are done, there is a firm agreement among bakers to cool completely before cutting and eating. This recipe advised 4 hours to overnight. Of course I understood the desire for neat slices. Nonetheless, I wasn’t going to miss molten caramel and chocolate for the sake of appearances.

Targeting a corner, it took a spoon to scoop the gooey, sweet mess. The crust was buttery and the chewiness came from oats that had yet to settle. Warm, rich caramel pooled over every bite.

It was darn good, just not life changing. With my initial curiosity appeased, I placed the Carmelitas in the fridge to finish cooling.  

Now, I must confess I baked the Carmelitas longer than intended. The top was supposed to be light brown. My bars were dark brown. I was certain the crust would be too hard, too crispy.

But I was wrong.

The extra oven time allowed the butter and brown sugar in the cookie crust to caramelize more. And with the caramel fused to the cooled crust, the Carmelitas tasted like new. 

There was a slight crunch, followed by the sweetest buttery chew, and then soft, gooey caramel. Adding balance to the flavors, the chocolate was a perfect companion.  

This was life changing.

I cannot speak to other variations. However, I rate these Carmelitas 5 stars. With no mixer required, stirring up trouble is easy. Patience is the hardest part.

For the full recipe, please visit Averie Cooks.

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