Donna's our friend. We like her. Donna went to college with the hubby, and she and I have worked together for the better part of 12 years. And not at just one company. I've made a pastime of occupationally stalking her.
Among Donna's many talents -- she's incredibly cultured and intelligent, she makes lovely handmade jewelry, and she's a darn good speller, to name a few -- she makes excellent caramelitas. The hubby loves these so much that whenever his college pals gather for their annual reunion, he signs up Donna to bring caramelitas. And then tells her about it.
I've tried making several versions of these caramel-oatmeal bars, but none of them measure up to Donna's. And I've tried making Donna's caramelitas, but those don't measure up, either. Why? She doesn't actually give me the recipe she uses. I'll come to work and tell her about yet another failed attempt, and she'll say, "Oh, yeah, you have to double the crust recipe." Or "Well you don't entirely double the crust. Only partly." Yes, of course.
So on this lovely weekend, Donna came over to show me how she actually makes her caramelitas. Turns out that Donna also didn't remember exactly what measurements she uses, so this was an educational experience for both of us.
Luckily, we had help.
I was going to ask Donna to write a guest post, but she's not a very good writer. Especially when it comes to instructions. Ha! That was a joke. She's actually a top-notch writer. She makes her living taking incredibly complex technical information and turning it into something that even I can understand.
But this is really important.
Makes 24 bars
1 14-oz. bag individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
3 Tbsp. milk
1 1/2 c.* flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
2 c. quick-cooking oats
1 3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
*All measurements are approximate. Donna doesn't really "measure" stuff.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put caramels and milk in a double boiler (or a glass bowl over a boiling pot of water). Melt until smooth and creamy.
This takes forever. I asked Donna if we could do this in the microwave. She said no. But I'll probably try it sometime, anyway. I'm a rebel.
3. In the meantime, combine flour, baking soda, oats, brown sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork.
Neither the hubby nor Donna's boyfriend understand pastry blenders. Is that a guy thing? Enquiring minds want to know.
4. Press half (or a little more than half) of the mixture in the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
5. Bake for 10 minutes.
6. Sprinkle chocolate chips over crust.
7. Pour caramel over chocolate chips.
We had one stubborn caramel that refused to melt. You can see the culprit here.
8. Top with remaining crust.
9. Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until top crust is golden. Let set before serving.