Last night, I made Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews from Pampered Chef’s Celebrate! cookbook. I make these several times per year, and for good reason – people go CRAZY for them. Seriously crazy. The combination of oats, brown sugar, butterscotch caramel ice cream topping, and chocolate is a definite people pleaser. They’re also super easy.
I started by combining 2 cups of old-fashioned oats (quick oats are fine too), 1 1/2 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a large bowl. I added 2 sticks of melted butter and stirred the mixture until it was crumbly. I set 1 cup of the crumb mixture aside and pressed the rest into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. That went into the oven for 15 minutes at 350 F.
Next, I whisked together 1 cup of butterscotch caramel ice cream topping (I buy Mrs. Richardson’s at Kroger) and 1/4 cup of flour in a small bowl. I drizzled that over the baked crust. The recipe says to “carefully” spread the topping to the edges of the crust using a spatula, but I just pick up the pan (with hot pads, of course!) and tilt it until the topping evenly covers the crust.
Making the top layer of the bars is the last step. I combined 1/2 cup of chopped pecans with the reserved crumb mixture and sprinkled that – along with 3/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips – over the top of the caramel mixture. I baked that at 350 F for 15 minutes, set the pan on a cooling rack, and let the bars cool.
Ideal cool time is 2 hours; you *could* serve the bars warm and gooey with ice cream at about the halfway point if you wanted to risk having your family or guests pass out in ecstasy. ;)
TIPS: Don’t overcook these bars. Once you see that the topping has browned and you notice some bubbling, take them out. If you overdo it, the caramel layer will bake into a hard-candy-like substance on the edges of your pan, and you may need to trim the edges.
Also, I tend to cut the bars into smaller portions if I’m bringing them to a party where there are going to be other foods to sample. The normal serving size (24 bars from a 9 x 13 pan) isn’t large, but the bars are rich.
Recipe link: Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews