Don’t you love it when a failure turns into something better than you originally intended?
Today’s post should not be about Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars, it should be about Salted Caramel Macaroons, but fate had other plans…
I tried to make those macaroons twice, but both times something went sour. The first time the little cookies rose perfectly and were the ideal macaroons, but I forgot to spray the pan and they stuck horribly. The second time I made them I was distracted and wasn’t too surprised when they came out of the oven flat as pancakes.
After those two failed attempts I was sick of macaroons and needed to take a break. The only problem was that I had a can of sweetened condensed milk turned caramel that was originally going to be used as the macaroon filling, just sitting in my fridge begging to be eaten.
If it wasn’t for my husband’s co-worker’s birthday I might have just eaten that whole jar myself by the spoonful, but I resisted and came up with these delicious Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars.
I knew I had a hit as soon as I pulled them out of the oven. These cookie bars have an oatmeal cookie crust and topping and are bursting with that delicious, homemade, ooey-gooey caramel and big chunks of chocolate. I even added a little bit of course sea salt to increase their drool worthiness.
As I cut them into pieces, my husband couldn’t keep his hands off them. I was surprised we still had enough for him to bring them to work.
His work went crazy over them and they were gone in record time. He came home with an empty container and a list of people requesting the recipe.
Later that week it was my co-workers’ birthday and I decided to make these Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars again to see how well they would go over.
To say people liked them would be a drastic understatement.
I hadn’t had this kind of reaction to something I brought into work since my famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. I had people sheepishly admit they ate shameful amounts and others were mapping out a business plan for me. It’s been a week and people are still talking, nay reminiscing about these bars.
This is a pretty easy dessert to make, you don’t even need a mixer, everything can be combined by hand, but the caramel sauce is a little time-consuming. In the recipe below I supply two methods: one on the stove top and the other using a slow cooker. If you can, make the caramel a day or two beforehand.
Who would have thought that my sad attempt at macaroons would lead to one of the best things I have ever created. I guess that’s how life works sometimes, your failures can be opportunities in disguise. When life gives you excess caramel, make Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars!
- 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 2 ½ sticks of butter, melted
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups old fashioned oats
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (optional)
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- Peel the label off of your can of sweetened condensed milk. Place in a large pot and fill with water until it completely covers the entire can. Bring the water to a boil then reduce heat down to a simmer and leave for 2 hours, adding more water as needed to always keep the can fully submerged in water.
- Alternative method: You can also do this in a crockpot, just fill it with water and set it to medium heat for 10 hours or high heat for 7 hours.
- After the time is up, remove the can from the water and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir to remove any lumps that might have formed.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 8x8 square pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- For oatmeal cookie crust, combine butter, brown sugar, vanilla, flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine. Press half of this mixture into the prepared pan (just eye it). Bake for 15 minutes, the crust should be barely set and light brown in color.
- Sprinkle half of the chocolate chunks on top of the warm oatmeal crust. Some will melt – that’s okay! Then pour your homemade caramel sauce on top of the chocolate. Spread it out as evenly as you can. If you find that your caramel is too thick, zap it in the microwave for a few seconds. If you want, sprinkle some sea salt on top for that salted-caramel taste. Top with the remaining chocolate chunks.
- Next, add the remaining oatmeal cookie dough. I find it works best to kind of sprinkle the dough on top. As it bakes it will come together more evenly.
- Bake again at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for another 15-20 minutes or until the cookie topping is cooked and turned a golden brown.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting into bite-sized pieces. Store at room temperature until ready to eat.