In elementary school, Sarah Swafford brought oatmeal carmelitas for her birthday. Have you had them before? They’re a layered bar cookie with chocolate, oatmeal and caramel. One bite and I was hooked.
I can’t remember why, but her mother shared the recipe. I don’t know if I asked for it or if they were so popular that she sent it along later, but being a pretty quick kid, I immediately shared it with my mom, who made them for us for weeks on end. And then, we sort of forgot about them, and I didn’t have them again for years.
Now, as an adult, I occasionally come across them. If I see a cookie bar resembling a carmelita, I always pick one up. Every, single time. Sometimes it works out; others it doesn’t. Last week, a blogger shared her recipe for salted caramel chocolate chip cookies, and it got me thinking about chocolate bark and oatmeal carmelitas.
And, here we are. So today, I’m sharing with you the stickiest, most delicious bark on the planet. Dark chocolate is drizzled with a salted caramel sauce and topped with toasted pecans and the lightest sprinkle of sea salt. Pretty good, right?
My intention was that this would be a great gift item for the holidays, but truthfully, it’s so gooey that it might be better suited to your home. I’m sure you won’t mind a bit.
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips, at least 60% cacao
1 – 2 tbsp. caramel sauce – either really good store-bought or homemade (recipe below)
2 tbsp. pecans, toasted and chopped
Sprinkle of sea salt
In a microwave safe bowl, melt 1/2 the bag of chocolate chips in 30 second intervals. Stirring between each round. I only needed 3 rounds. Then, to the melted chocolate, stir in the remaining chips. Incorporate them until they have all melted.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Pour the chocolate onto the parchment, using a spatula to create a uniform layer. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the toasted pecans and coarse sea salt. Place in the freezer overnight. If you try cooling them in the fridge, they won’t firm up enough.
Salted Caramel Sauce
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
3/4 c. heavy cream
3 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. Kosher salt
Combine sugar and water in a pot over medium low heat, whisking until it has dissolved. Increase the heat until the mixture begins to boil. Boil it until it turns an amber color. Continue to whisk it as occasionally. Kelsey said you could scrape down the sides with a wet brush to remove crystals. I tried this late in the process and couldn’t get it to work. I would recommend taking this step, but doing it from the beginning.
When the sugar is a beautiful amber, remove it from the heat and whisk in the cream. It will bubble up big time. If your caramel turns to a rock, whisk it for a while off heat, but feel free to warm it over the burner if you need to. Proceed with caution here.
Now, stir in the butter and salt. Pour it into a separate bowl and let cool.