Hi, my name is Audrey and I’m a stress baker. I’m going to go ahead and blame it on the fact that we don’t drink, but my favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day is by baking up a delicious confection. It might not be the healthiest habit, but it’s kept my children alive.
Take today for instance. After dealing with various billing and paperwork issues and a grocery store trip that was 80% hectic (due to taking both children to the store) and 20% embarrassing (due to leaving my wallet at home), I took my kids to their first ever dentist appointment. I ran interference between the children and the waiting room blinds with one arm and filled out a stack of paperwork about each of their medical histories with the other. They were individually really well behaved during their actual exams, but I was sweating bullets keeping the one out of the dentist chair from doing things like licking the protective eyewear or emptying drawers of floss and toothbrushes. The second we left (and they no longer had anyone to impress) my youngest nearly succeeded in breaking my death grip on her hand and running in front of a car. Once I’d wrestled the kids into our car against their will they immediately began fighting over the chintzy toys they’d acquired from the dentist’s treasure chest. This battle continued intermittently until we shut each of them into their separate bedrooms three hours later. By that point I was in dire need of a Carmelita.
With chocolate, salted caramel, nuts, a cookie layer, and a sprinkling of salt on top, these Carmelitas are truly a dream dessert. The best part is they don’t even take that long to make, even when you make your own caramel sauce (and you really should). For big gatherings, simply double the ingredients and bake in a 9″ X 13″ pan. If you must, you can omit the nuts, but as long as you aren’t allergic they add an excellent flavor. Try them and see if they don’t help set your world right. At least until your kids wake up.
- 3/4 C granulated sugar
- 5 TBSP butter cut into 1 TBSP pieces
- 2 pinches flaked or fine sea salt I used Kosher salt
- 1/2 C cream
- 3/4 C butter melted
- 3/4 C brown sugar packed
- 1 C flour
- 1 C rolled oats
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 4 oz semisweet chocolate chips about 3/4 C
- 2 oz pecans about 1/2 C
- Kosher salt or flaky salt for sprinkling optional
- Melt the granulated sugar over medium to moderately high heat in a larger pot than you think you’ll need. Leave the sugar alone until you see the edges are starting to liquefy. Once that starts to happen, you can gently shake and rotate the pan until the majority of the sugar is liquid. It takes me a lot restraint to not dive in with a spoon immediately when I see the sugar has started to liquefy, but holding off will save you from dealing with sugar lumps. Once most of the sugar is liquid and amber in color, you can begin to stir the mixture gently until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the sea salt and five tablespoons butter and stir until the butter melts. Lower the heat and slowly drizzle in the heavy cream, whisking the whole time. The sauce will foam, hiss, and possibly ball up; just ignore it and whisk until the sauce is smooth. Set aside until needed.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Combine the 3/4 C of melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Press half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8×8″ pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans over the crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel.
- Return to the oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with a few generous pinches of salt for that great salty/sweet combo. Cool completely before cutting into squares or just dive in with a fork. (Note: Don’t freak out about the caramel that will inevitably stick to the sides of your pan. Since it’s all just sugar it will wash off easily in hot water or the dishwasher.)