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by Heather Harris Brady

Raise your hand if you have Parisian fantasies. Okay, now leave them up if yours include Dorie Greenspan. C’mon, I know you’re out there. And it’s okay. You’re among friends. Hopefully my husband isn’t reading this because I know it isn’t the stuff of which romance novels are made, but I like to think of flying to Paris, where my new BFF Dorie meets me at the train with a hug and a slice of cake before we head out to shop for kitchenware and hit the farm market.

Then, back in her cozy kitchen we cook and debate recipe ideas. I would pull a treat out of my bag, one of her recipes I’ve made my own and she will say “browned butter, salted caramel, that’s genius of you” or something along those lines. Her FAB cookbook (Baking from my home to yours) encourages you to experiment with her recipes, plus I like to think she’s cool like that.

A bit of backstory: I’m completely addicted to these chocolate oatmeal bars sold by a shop downtown near my place of work. I can only go there once a week because I never walk out without one. And this where Dorie comes in. She has a recipe that looks much like theirs. Then, because I wanted to add my own twist, I brought the salted caramel. So as you can see, there’s a chewy oatmeal layer on the bottom, a layer of salted caramel, a layer of chocolate and more dollops of oatmeal on top. They are rich, so small squares are in order. My husband says he likes them better than the ones in town, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to take him to Paris with me after all 😉

Chocolate Oatmeal Caramel Bars, Makes about 36 2″ squares

For the oatmeal layer:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 c. light brown sugar
½ c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats

For the caramel layer:

1 c. granulated sugar

1/3 c. water

1 t. vinegar

1 t. coarse salt

2/3 c. heavy cream

4 T. soft butter

 

1/2 pkg. Kraft caramel bits (optional)

For the chocolate layer:
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped (the best quality you can find)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Make the caramel (there’s a step by step in the last recipe if you haven’t made it before) and set it aside to cool

Put the sticks of butter in a saucepan and heat them over medium to a light golden brown. Remove them from the heat and cool the butter completely. Then scrape the browned butter into a mixer bowl and cream it with the sugars, followed by the two eggs and vanilla.

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Beat in the remaining dry ingredients.

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Preheat the oven to 325 and lightly grease a 13×9 pan. Reserve 1-1/2 c. of the oatmeal mixture, press the rest into the bottom of the pan.

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Then spread the caramel over the oatmeal and sprinkle the caramel bits on top if you’re using them.

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Set aside while you make the chocolate topping. Heat the condensed milk and chocolate together over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer.

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Then sprinkle it with chunks of the remaining oatmeal mixture.

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Bake about 30-35 minutes.

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You can eat these right away, if you want to try them when they’re extra gooey. But once they’ve set overnight the chocolate turns into a fudge and they cut into nicer slices.

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They’re amazing either way. They’ll keep up to a week covered at room temperature.

One year ago: Malakoff Torte

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