We are having some friends over for dinner tonight and although I promised myself that I was going to break free of junk food...I just have to make dessert. No dessert at my house? That sounds like a punishment! What would my friends think if I didn't serve dessert? I ALWAYS have dessert. They know I love to bake! I just promised myself that I would not keep left overs tonight! I know this probably isn't considered a fancy dessert to most people...but I am a very casual cook. I like just chilling out on the patio with friends. I am not a gourmet chef nor do I pretend to be. I don't entertain with china...we do things very casually here at our house.
Caramel Oat Bar Recipe:
- 1 bag (11 oz.) of Kraft Caramel bits or 32 individual soft caramels, unwrapped
- 5 tbs. of half & half cream or milk (I usually use half & half because I normally have it on hand for coffee but I have substituted milk and it worked fine too)
- 2 cups gluten free Oats (I prefer using Trader Joe's Gluten free oats but I haven't had any rashes from Quaker brand even though they aren't labeled as gluten free - I use them sometimes. Doesn't matter if you use old fashioned or quick cooking. I used old fashioned in this batch today)
- 1 1/2 cup ground oats (put oats in blender or food processor to make it into a powder then measure after ground). If you don't have enough oats on hand to do that, you can substitute either regular flour (if you don't have a gluten allergy) or brown rice flour (gluten free) or finely ground nuts (like pecans, almonds or walnuts)
- 1 1/4 cups brown sugar OR raw sugar (Either version will work for this recipe. I am TRYING to be healthier and switch to raw sugar since my buddy Mike is on me about using healthier sugar!)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups real butter, melted (I know some of my friends have used margarine in this recipe and it will work - you just don't get the intense buttery flavor that only real butter provides. I recommend using a margarine or Crisco containing at least 65% fat or else they contain a lot of water and may result in a soggy cookie crust!).
- 1 cup chocolate chips (you can leave this out but we like the dark chocolate with the sweet caramel. They offset each other nicely. You can also substitute or add chopped nuts if you want. I just don't bother. Too many of my friends have nut allergies and nuts aren't very economical right now so I just don't add them.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt caramel & cream or milk in microwave (or double boiler) until fairly smooth. If you have a few little lumps in there, don't worry about it. It just has to be spreadable. Set it off to the side. Stir together the melted butter, sugar, oats, ground oats (or flour/nuts or if you are substituting), baking soda and salt. It should resemble a crumble mixture. (If crumble mixture feels too dry then you can add another half stick of melted butter. If it feels too wet then you can add a sprinkling more of oats. (Different brands will you give you slightly different results so you may need to tweak it a little!) Spread just a little more than half of the mixture into a greased (or spray with cooking spray) 9x13 pan. I just press it down really good with my clean hands but you can do it with a spatula. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let it "rest" for about 5 minutes then sprinkle with chocolate chips and/or nuts if you are using them. Pour the soft caramel over the chocolate chips. Then crumble the remaining oat mixture on top. Put back in the oven for additional 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven. The top and edges should be a light golden color. Cool for at least an hour before cutting. (Seriously this is the hardest part! I admit that most of the time I can't wait an hour or more so I scoop them out and burn my tongue with the hot caramel! Ouch!)
Before putting the oat crumbled topping on
Just before sticking it in the oven
Just removed from the oven to let it cool
An hour after cooling. Still warm & slightly gooey. They will set up just a little more in another hour or so. Yummy!
Gluten Free Casually