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The Tale of the Carmelitas

Carmelitas have a buttery oatmeal cookie base and topping, and a luscious chocolate and caramel filling.

We live in a big-but-not-huge town. We have a P.F. Chang’s and a Pottery Barn and two malls and two full-price movie theaters. But we don’t have a Williams-Sonoma. Instead, we have a few delightful, locally-owned kitchen stores. One of them holds a monthly baking contest, and these Carmelitas were supposed to be my ticket to local baking contest greatness.

See, a Carmelita is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill treat. Rather, it is like a buttery oatmeal cookie that swallowed a caramel-filled chocolate bar and then got bibitty-bobitty-booed by the dessert fairy godmother and received an extra dose of deliciousness. Everyone I have ever talked to who has tasted one has proclaimed it to be the most wonderful thing ever. I’m not exaggerating!

Carmelitas have a buttery oatmeal cookie base and topping, and a luscious chocolate and caramel filling.

I tasted my first Carmelita last year while I was visiting my sister. I liked it so much that I helped her eat the whole pan in two days. Just the two of us. A 9×13″ pan. Two days. And we liked it…obviously.

When I got my kitchen store newsletter in January, I started planning out my strategy. Some months I knew I’d be gone, some months I couldn’t think of a good cookie to make, but September–Oatmeal Cookie Month–I knew would be mine because I was going to make Carmelitas, and no one can resist them. They were like my fail-safe. If my coconut macaroons didn’t win in April (they didn’t), and if my bar cookies didn’t win in June (nope), and if my thumbprints didn’t win in August (er, not them either), then I’d knock everyone’s socks off in September with the best oatmeal cookie any of them had ever tasted!

Carmelitas have a buttery oatmeal cookie base and topping, and a luscious chocolate and caramel filling.

The email naming the winner took a few extra weeks to be sent–no lie–and I was on pins and needles the whole time. When I saw it sitting there in my in-box, I had one of those strange prickling sensation on the back of my neck that you always hear about in stories–not a good feeling. The thought popped into my head that if I had won, they probably would have called or emailed me or something before just sending it out in an email newsletter. But I still didn’t think any cookie could beat my sweet Carmelitas, it just wasn’t possible!

But it was true: a recipe for oatmeal cookies studded with white chocolate and dried cranberries had been crowned the champ. I just could not–and a part of me still doesn’t–imagine any oatmeal cookie tasting better than the best cookie I’d ever had.

Carmelitas have a buttery oatmeal cookie base and topping, and a luscious chocolate and caramel filling.


If I sound just a wee bit crazy, get a load of this! Last week, I had to go into the kitchen store to buy 20 tiny salt spoons (more on that another time), and I actually brought up the oatmeal cookie contest to the cashier! Even though it had occurred to me to ask about the results, I don’t think I had really planned on doing it, because I sort of ummed and uhhed and stumbled all over my words.

It ended up being, “Umm, well, I sort of was wondering, um, do you guys, you know, like…..keep the results from past contests? ‘Cause I was just, you know, um, maybe if you, you know, remembered the Carmelitas, uh,” **very blank look from the cashier at this point**, “how close it was, uh, you know, like,” and I just sort of trailed off! These baking contests have turned me into a raving lunatic!!

Carmelitas have a buttery oatmeal cookie base and topping, and a luscious chocolate and caramel filling.


Yield: 12-16 bar cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 32 caramel squares, unwrapped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips


    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    2. Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside.
    3. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8x8" pan.
    4. Bake for 10 minutes.
    5. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel.
    6. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.
    7. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.


  • A stint in the fridge will help them cool off if you're pinched for time. They shouldn't be served cold, but all of that molten caramel takes a long time to cool down. They should be stored and served at room temperature.
  • If you want to use homemade or store-bought caramel sauce in place of the caramel/cream mixture, use 1 1/4 cups of caramel sauce, and omit the caramel squares and heavy cream.
  • To make a 9x13" version, simply double the amounts. No need to adjust the baking temperature or time.
  • For more cookie recipes, CLICK HERE and explore my cookie recipe archives.

    471 thoughts on “The Tale of the Carmelitas

    1. My husband and I have an unhealthy obsession with these!! We have made this recipe now about 6 times in the past two months… So addicting!

    2. I agree…these should have won! I made these the night before a play date and had to go to bed so I would stop eating them right out of the pan! This is going to be the dessert I take everywhere now. Wow! Can’t wait for my mommy friends to try them today….if there are any left by the time they get here.

    3. Found this on pinterest and this is the second time I’ve made them, had absolutely rave reviews from my coworkers!

      The first time around I used store bought caramel sauce and milk chocolate chips (it was what I had) and it ended up being so so sweet that it was almost hard to eat (and I’m the kind of person who eats caramel sauce straight from the jar).

      This time I made my own caramel sauce (using evaporated milk, as a non-dairy eater I don’t ever have real milk or cream on hand) and I made it in the microwave. I did 30 second intervals and stirred well; it worked perfectly! I also used quick oats and there wasn’t any problem with them. And I used the semi-sweet chips like you called for and it was a much better balance! This really is a keeper recipe!

      1. Hi Mandie! I can imagine that they’re too sweet with the milk chocolate chips! I usually prefer milk chocolate, but sometimes you just need a little bittersweet to make a recipe really good!

      1. mikki–OMG! I honestly don’t know if carmelitas can get any better, but I have a feeling that adding apples and pecans might make them mind-blowing! I’m going to have to try it!

    4. I made these for my co-workers as a treat at a staff meeting and they were a hit. I especially loved that they were so easy to make. Delicious!

    5. I used chopped Lindt Caramel Truffles in addition to the semi-sweet choc. I doubled the recipe- I didnt’ have enough caramels so I just added caramel from a jar and it worked out just fine. Delish!

    6. My husband thanks you, my hips curse you! These have been the single most incredible discovery in the past year. I love love love them! They are deadly though, because they are SO easy to throw together. I haven’t messed with the recipe too much in the 12 or so times I’ve made them. Once I had only flavored oatmeal on hand so I used the maple cinnamon packets- still good! Another time I had peanut butter chips so I threw those in with the chocolate chips-still good. I also tried using fruit instead of chocolate once—don’t do that…ever…ever.

      Thanks for the amazing recipe <3

    7. This gooey deliciousness COULD NOT be beat….impossible. These are wonderful little treats from heaven. Thank you!

      1. Beth, I think I will spend the rest of my life wondering how the Carmelitas lost! But it is so validating to hear that so many people agree that they’re the best cookie ever. They really are!

    8. These are so delicious!!! Everyone loves them. Maybe give credit to the original recipe, though. Just saying… This recipe has been around for years!

      1. Hi there. I’m always happy to link to the original recipe, and I think it’s important to give credit where credit is due. As I mentioned in the story, I got this recipe from my little sister, who got it from an acquaintance in college. I don’t know where that person got it from, nor did I imply that I made the recipe up. If you have a link to the original recipe and want to share, I’ll happily add the link and credit the source. Thanks for stopping by.

    9. Can’t wait to try them, what is the total weight of the caramels, I live in Scotland and not sure what the equivalent would be x

    10. These are so yummmmyyyy!! My hubby and I made them last night so we could bring them to my mom’s for Mother’s Day. I had to sample them of course and my oh my they are good!! Now I have to resist eating them all before we get there.

    11. These are my husband and friend’s favorite treat. I have taken them to several friend’s houses and everyone always loves them and wants the recipe. We have found they are best eaten the next day, giving the caramel time to really set up. LOVE this recipe, thanks SO much for sharing!!

      1. They actually taste great at room temperature, and even after a stint in the fridge! The caramel sets up as they cool, but unless you keep them in the fridge forever, it won’t harden so much that you can’t eat it.

    12. Help! I’m due to go to a graduation party in 2 hours; made them and doubled the recipe as instructed, put into a 9 by 13 pan, and after 20 minutes they are practically spilling over and the center blobs of dough are still uncooked. they are in the oven for another 10 minutes then will go into the freezer – any other thoughts out there?

      1. Hey! So sorry I didn’t respond right away; we’ve been on vacation for a week! I hope they turned out OK. If I need these to be ready quickly, yes, I put them in the fridge or freezer until the caramel sets up. I’ve never had them not set up, and I haven’t had any trouble with them cooking all the way through. Hopefully it worked out!

    13. This is the 1st time I’ve felt led to comment on a recipe but I knew I just had to let everyone know how truly Amazing these cookies are!! I took them to a fellowship dinner today and everyone raved about them. One friend even said if we weren’t in public, she would lick the bowl clean 🙂 Needless to say I came home with an empty dish and one very sad husband who didn’t even get to try them. On a sidenote, there is NO way these cookies should have lost to a white choc/cranberry/oatmeal cookie…….NO WAY!!!!

    14. Holy cow! I pinned these on Pinterest awhile ago. Finally made them tonight and they were amazing!! They looked like they would be complicated to make so I put off trying them, but they were so easy to make. Although it took forever for the caramels to melt.

    15. I made the caramel myself and then used half and half instead of heavy cream because that was all I had.I am waiting for them to cool so I can try them. I refuse to put them in the fridge!

    16. Hi, made these last weekend and they were sooooo yummy and good! Everyone was wanting to know what they were! So even if you didn’t win the contest, you won in my book!

    17. I want to make these but I cant seem to find Soft Caramel candies Where I live. If i were to make some sort of homemade caramel, what recipe would you suggest, and if I did that, would I then omit the Cream?

    18. These have turned out to be one of my favorite desserts! They are big hit with everyone I make them for. Thanks for sharing! Also, I recently found out that one of my good friends is your sister-in-law, April. What a small world! 🙂

    19. OK, maybe a dumb question, but I’m not much of a baker! If I make the 9×13 double recipe, how long do I bake it for? Thanks!! 🙂

      1. Not a dumb question at all! Even though you are doubling everything, you should still be able to bake it for the same amount of time since you are using a bigger pan. Good luck!

    20. I have been making these for years and they are fabulous but extremely rich! I got the recipe from a local country farm store. It is family owned and they made and sold these in their bakery dept. I tried them and was hooked. I asked the one of the workers/owners if I could get the recipe and he was very reluctant and said the “ladies” don’t like to give out their recipes. But since none of them were around, he pulled out a huge binder with recipes and turned to the recipe I requested and proceeded to write it down for me! They called them “Ooey Gooey Bars”. Shhhh…… 🙂 And by the way, soon after that, I never really saw them in that store again!!

    21. I sold Tupperware when I was first married, clear back in 1977. One of my hostesses served Oatmeal Carmelitas at her party. I just HAD to have the recipe! I feel the same way about them as you do, your photograph captures their essence quite nicely. I found it on Pinterest and saved it even though I have the recipe. Thank you for sharing it with the world.

    22. I made these a few months ago and the carmel never got quite solid enough…not like that stopped anyone from eating them with a spoon! I’m making them again today and I’m going to see how they turn out with a little less cream. Thanks for the recipe.

    23. Found these little babies on Pinterest a while back and have been waiting to make them. They are out of this world good!! I had them when they were like 10 minutes out of the oven and still gooey – and then later in the day when they firmed up. I could have eaten the whole pan by myself. Thank you so much for this recipe – I definitely will try to make it gluten free with oat flour too!

    24. Hi Lulu! The moment I first saw these Carmelitas, I just knew I had to make them. And they were finger-licking delicious! It’s on the blog, Pass the Cocoa, if you’re interested in checking it out! Looking forward to seeing more delicious recipes on Lulu the Baker (:

    25. These are so good! Next time I make them I’m going to skip the chocolate and add diced, peeled granny smith apples to the caramel mixture – Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookie Bars anyone? Can’t wait! Thanks for a great recipe.

    26. I doubled the recipe. These things are MAGICAL! We loved them. The last one was eaten several days ago and I’m still thinking about them. Can’t believe the Carmelitas didn’t win the contest, what the heck? This is the first time I’d had them (or heard of them!) and they’ll be a go-to favorite! Okay, white chocolate cranberry cookies are very good, but nowhere near as awesome as Carmelitas.

      Oh, I posted my doubled version of the recipe on my blog, hope you don’t mind! I cited you as the source of the recipe, linked to you, and the recipe directions are in my own words 🙂 Here’s a link if you want to check it out:

    27. Hi Lulu, amazing looking carmelitas. We haven’t got caramel square where i live so i may have to substitute with tinned caramel. Can you advise on much caramel sauce i’d have to use in the recipe. Thank you

    28. I am going to make a double batch of this for a party. Do you usually make it the night before so it has lots of time to set up or do you make it that morning so it is freshly made? Also do you store your in the refrigerator or just covered and on the counter? Thanks!

      1. Making them the night before is a terrific idea! Carmelitas are one of those rare treats that actually taste better after sitting for a while. It gives them time to set up, like you mentioned, and just allows all of the yummy flavors to develop. And I just store them covered on the counter. If you store them in the fridge, they’ll be hard as rocks and you’ll have to wait for them to come to room temperature before eating.

      1. Hi Grace. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever tried–they don’t stick around long enough to find out! But I don’t see why they wouldn’t! They get better and better the longer they sit, and treats like that usually freeze decently. Good Luck!

      2. They can be frozen! I gave some to my BFF for her cheat day. She said they were fantastic after freezing.

    29. what is going to be better to use. the caramel squares or the caramel sauce? what works better and tastes better

    30. I just pulled this out of the oven. I will have to have some serious restraint. I am bringing them to a party or I should say whatever leftover crumbs are available . 😉

    31. This recipe is a go-to dessert for me, now. I make it for bridal showers, baby showers, church functions, friends, etc. It’s like a chocolate chip cookie + oatmeal cookie + caramel goodness all in the shape of a bar. The only other tips I would share is to make sure to use unsalted butter and to let it rest on a baking rack for plenty of time (3 hours seems just right to me) prior to serving, for easy cutting as the caramel needs time to set. I’m big on freshness of baked goods and I’m thankful for a recipe that I can make the morning of an event without worrying about the quality being diminished. Thank you for sharing this recipe! Love your website.

    32. Mine didn’t set and I found them FAR too sweet. On more of the disgusting side rather than the enjoyable side.

    33. I have been eyeing these on Pinterest for months, just never remember to get the ingredients at the store… They are on my list for today’s trip & I’m so excited to try them! Chocolate+caramel recipes are my favorite, particularly without nuts – looks amazing!

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