Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars
Rich, gooey, chocolaty, and loaded with caramel. If you like chocolaty, rich treats with lots of chewy texture, these bars are for you!Yield: One 8x8" pan
|3/4 cup||butter, melted|
|1 1/2 cups||whole rolled oats, gluten-free, if desired|
|3/4 cup||brown sugar, packed|
|1 teaspoon||baking soda|
|1/2 cup||all-purpose flour, optional*|
|1 teaspoon||vanilla extract + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract|
|1 cup||chocolate chips|
|2 cups||caramels sauce|
Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing for overhang (do not make this recipe unless you line your pan with foil) and spray the foil down very well with cooking spray. (remember, these are gooey).
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. To the melted butter add the oats, brown sugar, baking soda, flour*, one teaspoon vanilla, and stir to combine. Pour just over half the oat-butter mixture (about 60%, eyeball it) into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, spread it evenly with a spatula, and bake for 9-10 minutes. The mixture will bubble up and foam considerably while baking. Watch it closely and the sides will show a bit of browning at about 9-10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let it rest and cool for 3 minutes, and then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top in an even layer.
Add the cream and vanilla to the caramel sauce; stir to incorporate.
Pour the creamy caramel mixture over the top of the oat mixture that has been topped with chocolate chips. Take the remaining half (40%) of the oat-butter mixture and sprinkle it as evenly as possible over the top, using a spatula to gently spread the oats within the caramel mix. Place pan on top of a cookie sheet as a precaution for spill-over and bake for 14-16 minutes more, or until sides of the mixture are beginning to brown (Look closely in order to discern "browning edges" from the overall brown color of the caramel mixture when it's baking; they're very similar but distinct enough to differentiate). The mixture will be bubbling quite intensely while baking and watch it for signs of spilling over. Remove pan from the oven and allow it to rest and completely cool on the countertop before attempting to slice the bars (at least two hours) or you can expedite the process by placing the pan in the freezer or refrigerator until sufficiently cool enough to slice (but not frozen). Store bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or freezer, and freeze extras for up to 3 months. I stored these bars in the freezer because they were so gooey and they never froze solid (all that butter).
Notes: *I did not add flour to the bars as they are shown here and they are incredibly gooey and are hard to keep in a "neat" bar form, which only matters if you're trying to transport them. If you prefer something less gooey and sticky and more portable, add 1/2 cup all-purpose or Gluten-free flour. Oats are a gluten free grain but use certified GF if necessary.