Every month when the dining hall menu was released during college, my roommates and I circled one day on the calendar. This was a day that was not to be forgotten. This was a day that we quickly scurried to lunch giddy with anticipation. This was a day that was simply all about “the bars” – cookie perfection in the form of layers of a buttery oatmeal crust, chocolate, and caramel.
We loved the bars so much, that no matter the weather, I threw on a huge sweatshirt and stuffed my baggy sleeves with stacks of cookies carefully wrapped up in paper napkins. Yes, I stole as many as of the bars as possible out of the dining hall, and yes, I would definitely do it again given the chance. We hoarded those bars of golden caramel goodness for days and savored each and every bite.
A couple years after I graduated, I stumbled upon the recipe for the bars, which apparently are officially known as Oatmeal Carmelitas. I was beyond incredibly excited that I could have the bars whenever I wanted! For years and years afterwards, I whipped them up anytime I needed to make a dessert to impress. And now, I finally want to honor one of the recipes that inspired my love of baking – this is a decadent chocolate and dulce de leche version of one of my very favorite treats in the whole world. Britt – my favorite partner in crime, this one is for you!
Chocolate Dulce De Leche Bars
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 13.4-ounce can dulce de leche
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350°F. Place flour, oats, brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Place butter and unsweetened chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute or until butter and chocolate are melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Mix melted butter mixture into dry ingredients until crumb forms. Reserve 1/2 cup of crumb mixture. Place remaining crumb mixture in a greased 8×8-inch pan and press down evenly. Bake crust at 350˚F for 10 minutes.
Place dulce de leche and milk in a small bowl and mix well until smooth. Evenly spread dulce de leche over partially baked crust. Top evenly with chocolate chips and remaining 1/2 cup chocolate crumb mixture. Bake an additional 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Cool 1 hour at room temperature and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into 16 bars and store in the refrigerator.
Nutrition: 309 calories, 13.0g fat, 2.5g fiber, 4.7g protein per bar
Cost: $0.40 per bar