Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Tale of the Carmelitas

carmelitas

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! 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 9x13" 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!

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.

Epilogue:
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
All of the crazy obsessiveness boils down to this: Carmelitas are to-die-for. Make them. Now.
carmelitas-2

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

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. 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. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. 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.


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385 comments:

  1. They look delicious and although I'm sure it's not much of a consolation they would have beaten a cranberry and white choc cookie a million times over if I were on the judging panel! Your recipe was more original and it looks and sounds delicious :)

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    1. These are the best ever

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    2. I had these at a baby shower on Saturday. They were so good that I had 4...was on a sugar high all night but so worth the 4 pounds it cost me. How can that be? The gal that made them...the grandma to be made her own caramel and also used a high quality chocolate that she chopped herself. It was milk chocolate and I am a dark chocolate lover, but I LOVED those bars, and I can imagine what they would be like with a mix of dark and milk chocolate. I am SO glad to have this recipe...and I kept the hilarious and sad story with it...too bad the judges didn't have any taste buds.

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    3. i cant imagine that cookie winning either. this is going to be the third event I bake these for---mmmmm, they have been a huge hit! I will bake them again on Sunday for a mothers day lunch! thanks for sharing... pretty sure all the ladies in my office would have voted for Carmelitas!

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    4. Want to make these, but I have only milk.. not heavy cream. Wonder if it would still work?

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    5. Hi Kitty. I'm sure milk would work. Evaporated milk would probably be great if you have any of that. Maybe don't add quite as much as it calls for?? Let me know how they turn out!

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    6. These look delicious! I'm wondering if I could nix the flour and add extra oats? I eat gluten free but would LOVE to modify the recipe...any ideas? Thanks! :)

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    7. I have no experience with gluten-free baking! But I'm sure you could find a substitute for the flour, especially since they really don't have that much flour in them. Maybe 1 cup whole oats and 1 cup oat flour?? You could just grind up a bunch of oats and measure out 1 cup. Let me know if you try something and have success!

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    8. quick question: i made these yesterday and while they were sinfully delicious they never solidified. i let them cool for a while and then put them in the fridge for a few hours. is there a trick to making them stay together? you couldn't really even pick up a square to eat it - it was more of a utensil bar ;-)

      thanks!
      ~princi in san francisco

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    9. Hi Princi! I have had to put them in the fridge before to hasten the setting up of the caramel, but they've always solidified pretty well eventually. I hope they were delicious even if they were messy!

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    10. Just by looking at the cookies(going to try them soon), I'm shocked they didn't win either. I'm definitely shocked that white chocolate and cranberries even came close to this recipe! Wow. Anyway, I know in advance that my family is going to thank you for this recipe. Thanks for sharing:)

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  2. You totally should have won. I have had carmelitas before and they are beyond awesome. I bet they just didn't try them since they don't look like a traditional oatmeal cookie :).

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  3. This post made me laugh so hard Melissa! And I have to say I was on pins and needles reading to see if you won! I'm sorry it didn't work out. Don't give up. I would have loved to see you there asking about your cookies....I'm still laughing :)

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    1. My thoughts exactly. I can't wait to make these. When it's time I will re-read her story and pretend to be competing against a Carmelitas champion.

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  4. Oh my goodness, those look amazing! I think I've had those before...A woman in the ward I grew up in made those, and they were SO incredibly addicting :) So I wouldn't call it craziness at all; they should have won, plain and simple. You are completely justified...

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  5. These sound ridiculous (in a good way.) I already think you should've won. No white chocolate oatmeal cookie could beat this.

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  6. I love you. And I am sure I would have crowned your cookies the bestest. Cranberries with oatmeal doesn't really sound good to me. Lamespice. Wish I could have tasted them in the height of their glory.

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  7. The only madness was the store not choosing your Carmelitas as the winner!!!!!

    My diet is not thanking you for such an fantastic recipe!!!!

    Looking forward to following all your future adventures :-}

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  8. The judging panel must not have been in their right minds. I am definitely definitely definitely favouring these caramelitas over some common white choc and cranberry oatmeal cookies.!

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  9. I made these last week using the recipe you posted and they were SO delicious! Everyone loved them who tried them. Thanks so much for posting it. Super easy and quick too!

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  10. Man that just stinks. Those people must have something against caramel. The cookies look amazing- I can feel myself gaining weight just looking at them :)

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  11. Rave reviews from my coworkers! However, since I've never baked with caramel before I didn't know you're not supposed to leave the stove while melting it. I had to stop in the middle to buy more caramel and another sauce pan. Thanks so much for the recipe!!

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  12. Thanks for this recipe--I've made them twice in a month and I love them! They've changed my life. . .maybe not in a good way.

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  13. thanks for this recipe--i've made it twice in a month. you've changed my life with these. . .maybe not in a good way.

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  14. My best friend used to make these every Christmas and she would always make an extra batch, just for me. She knew how much I loved them and I so looked forward to getting them every year. She moved away, life happened and I haven't had my carmelitas for several years now. I'm making these, tomorrow. Can't wait. Thanks so much for sharing this, you should have won...cranberry oatmeal????, that just makes me cringe.

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  15. You had me at caramel. Yum...thanks for sharing!

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  16. I just made these and all I can say is UNBELIEVABLE!!!! thanks for the amazing recipe!

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  17. Oh my gosh, sounds wonderful, can't wait to make these. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Yumyum!!! Looks great! bellesbazaar-heather.blogspot.com

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  19. Oh my gosh! I have a very similar carmelitas recipe (added in M&Ms to it) and entered into my work's Bake Off at work several Decembers ago. Like you, I thought FOR SURE I'd win b/c they are just that delicious. Sadly, I did not. And the kicker is the guy who won actually had his wife make the treats. Totally should have been DQed!

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  20. QuinnBen--It's not something you ever get over! I still can't believe the carmelitas didn't win, and it was over a year ago!

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  21. I make these all the time! And everyone one LOVES them! People are always begging for the recipe. You should have won!!! :)

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  22. Found this via Pinterest. This may be the mecca of "I've had a bay day, I need one scrumptiously decadently wonderful bite of consolation right now!" food. Thank you for sharing your story & this seemingly heavenly recipe. (You had me at caramel.)

    Cheers,
    Heather @ Find That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

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  23. Those people are idiots! These look delicious and I can't wait to try them!!

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  24. I totally understand how you feel! I have a favorite cookie recipe, too, and when it didn't even get honorable mention in the Taste of Home Cookie Contest, I was SO angry! Seriously, I dreamed about it, I was so angry. sigh.
    (my favorite cookie ever is Chocolate Walnut Kiss cookies which is basically a walnut-studded butter cookie dough wrapped around hershey kisses and then covered in powdered sugar after baking.
    I have to try these carmelitas! thank you!

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  25. Once you double the recipe for a 9x13 what would be the new baking times?

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  26. Johna--Walnuts make my mouth hurt, but I might have to try those Chocolate Walnut Kisses anyway; they sound delicious!

    sbawarski--you don't have to adjust the baking time at all as long as you are doubling the ingredients.

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  27. When I saw the Carmelitas I knew what they were. I have been making them since the 1960's. I found the recipe in a soft cover book at the grocery check out and the title is "a treasury of bake off favorites", they were prize winning recipes from Pillsbury. In the book they are called "Oatmeal Carmelitas". If you want to inquire about this book it was copyright in 1969 by The Pillsbury Company, printed in the USA. The funny part is the price was 98 cents.

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    1. This is very true, I did the same thing by getting the recipe from the Pillsbury Top winner recipe in 60s. Made it a tradition to make them every Christmas and I passed it on to my kids that are grown and have their own kids! However, we added pecans to ours!

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  28. When I saw the Carmelitas I knew what they were. I have been making them since the 1960's. I found the recipe in a soft cover book at the grocery check out and the title is "a treasury of bake off favorites", they were prize winning recipes from Pillsbury. In the book they are called "Oatmeal Carmelitas". If you want to inquire about this book it was copyright in 1969 by The Pillsbury Company, printed in the USA. The funny part is the price was 98 cents.

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  29. You would have won in my book!!! Those look so DELISH and will definitely have to make them. They struck a sentimental cord in me because my baby's name is Carmella and Carmelita is her baby name in Spanish. Carmelita is also my Aunt's name but we call her Carmen. LOVE IT!!!

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  30. I'm glad there are others who feel like I do so I thoroughly enjoyed your tale! :) I do love oatmeal/whitechocolate/cranberry cookies but I can not wait to try these!

    Looks like you've hit pintrest fame so that may even be better?!?

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  31. Oh.Ma.Gawd- these look AMazing!!!! Found them on Pinterest and plan on making them this week. Loved your story by the way!

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  32. OH MY GOD. 3 of my favorite things.... Oatmeal, chocolate, and ooooooo caramel!!! How could you not win? Cranberries and white chocolate (which isn't even REAL chocolate, btw!!!)?!?!? I CALL SHENANIGANS!!!!

    I am making these immediately. And putting a blue ribbon on the pan. ON PRINCIPLE.

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  33. I'm pretty sure you should have one. A friend brought me some of these today and they are DELICIOUS! I am a baking snob and frequently throw out treats other people bring, but not these ones! I won't even share them with my husband. They are all for me!

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  34. These look so delicious! Making them this weekend.

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  35. I just made these and they were so delicious! I doubled it and put in a 9x13 dish per the directions and I think next time I will add less butter. It was a little too gooey and many middle pieces had to be eaten with s fork or spoon. Great in ice cream too! I can only think of one reason why you didn't win... Maybe because these are bars and not quite cookies? Either way they are amazing! Thanks

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  36. I loved reading this post! first, I drooled all over myself after seeing the Carmelitas in the pictures! Anything with caramel should win in my opinion, but these?! These look beyond amazing!!! I say there is definitely "off" about your local kitchen store...I would take caramel over white chocolate anyday!!! I say enter them in your local fair this fall!!! You'll win for sure! I'm running out tomorrow to get ingredients to make a double batch!!!! wuuuwhoooo!!!

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  37. I've got to make these soon! Seriously, these look ahmazing!!! Great pictures, too! (I found you on pinterest:)
    Blessings,
    Leslie

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  38. These look amazing! I will have to make them soon. I have had the oatmeal, white chocolate, and cranberry cookie. They are average and the recipe comes off the box of oatmeal. You should have won not only for taste but for originality. An oatmeal cookie is an oatmeal cookie, but these are devine. Glad I have a recipe for them now.

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  39. After a terrible week with my husband's job, THESE had to be the dessert Friday night. I made the batter, but rather than "patting" and "crumbling", it poured and had the consistency of cake batter. I checked and double checked what I had done, and decided to start again. I used only 1/4 cup melted butter and it definately "patted" and "crumbled" but the end result was crunchy. Does anyone have advice? HELP! I must get these right!!

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    1. JENNIFER G. I think I know what happened here. Your butter was way too hot of a melted liquid. What u should do is use a small non-stick pan for the amount of butter called for in this recipe. Set your heat at the LOWEST temp u have. Take hold of the pans handle & swirl the butter as u are wanting to SOFTEN it into a CREAMY SOFT butter. U do not want liquid or u will have a batter. U may want to turn the heat off & on so u can control the hotness of the pan & swirl the pan to help it completely soften. U should have no bits of solid butter left after its completely softened out. Pour this over your oatmeal mix & stir with a fork. Voila..crumbles.
      U will not be able to achieve this in a microwave so don't try nuking it. This is how to achieve a crumble/crust in any recipe.
      What happens to butter melted into a liquid? The protein separates, floats to the top & u end up with clarified butter-broken butter.
      Try this method & you will get what u want..a tummy yummy cookie bar.
      I think next time I will double the oat mix but not the caramel, eliminate the extra half stick of butter but use 2 sticks only for the double oat mix & put in a 9"x 13" pan. The amount of choc. chips is personal preference. They're very sweet.
      Hope this helps!

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  40. Can't wait to make these! Do you think it matters if I use quick-cooking oats in place of the rolled oats? :)

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  41. Jennifer G--I wish I knew how to help them turn out right for you! Honestly, I've always followed the recipe exactly and haven't had trouble. Good luck!

    Jennifer--I don't think you'll have a problem if you use quick-cooking oats. The texture of the oatmeal layers will be a tiny bit different, but I think they'll still be delicious!

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  42. YUM! Just found these on pinterest & can't wait to spend some time here enjoying your blog! TFS!

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  43. I found you via Pinterest and made these tonight...they are so delicious I was left speechless! I have no idea how any cookie could have beaten your carmelitas because they are Amazing with a capital A!!!

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  44. I found these on Pinterest too, and loved them. Loved them too much! I will make them again,... and again,... and again!

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  45. thank you for pinterest for sending me to you, yum!!

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  46. I too just found these on Pinterest. I think I'm going to make them for a pot-luck on Wednesday because what I usually make, no one eats. I too loved your post. And incidentally, I've had those oatmeal cookies that won. They aren't bad. But they aren't as good as these look like they taste! There must have been something wrong with the taste testers.

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  47. these are ridiculously good. you shoulda won!!!!

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  48. Just made these today for a dinner at some friends tonight...can't wait for everyone to taste them!!! yummmmmmmmmmy!!!! thanks for the recipe, found you on pinterest!!! ;0)

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  49. You should have won. These look amazing, and the white chocolate/cranberry cookies are the recipe on the Craisins bag.

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  50. Can these be made as cookies or do they need to be baked in a pan like brownies?

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    1. Hi Dianne. Because of the different layers, these have to be baked in a pan like brownies. You could probably figure out how to make cookies with all the same components (oatmeal cookie, caramel, and chocolate), but you'd have to use a completely different recipe to start with. But they're so good as is!

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  51. Your carmelitas look delicious! I would love to eat one right now! :) Just have to say that your post made me laugh too! I could just see the scenario in my mind - asking about the results...too funny! That must've been a painfully awkward moment that you couldn't really believe you're were actually going thru ;) Thanks for the post!

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  52. I've had these and couldn't get enough! I went through two people to finally get the recipe and even though I didn't taste the "winning" cookie, these win over ANY dessert in my book! They are way too delicious. Thank's amazing baker!

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  53. Made these last night and they were fabulous! I used 1/2 and 1/2 in place of the heavy cream. OMG these were so good. My husband crumbled it over ice cream, the kids just ate it as is and today out of the refrigerator is my favorite way to eat them. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

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  54. White chocolate chips & cranberries. That's so run of the mill. I can't wait to try out this recipe.

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  55. This sounds soooooo good!! Can't wait to try it!! Are the caramels the little candies on clear wrapping or should I buy something else??

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    1. Yep, just the kraft caramel cubes wrapped in clear plastic. They take forever to unwrap!

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  56. Oatmeal, cranberry, white chocolate cookie? They should be ashamed! Everybody knows coconut trumps all! lol I bet these are fantastic and I may have to find a way to make that 9x13, but better have them to give away 'cuz I would have it finished with a fork by midnight!

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  57. You were robbed! I say demand a vote recount. Thank you for sharing the recipe for this delicious treat.

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  58. I must be the only person alive who would undoubtedly vote for the white chocolate/cranberry. I don't like chocolate and I REALLY don't like caramel. How many people were on the voting panel, maybe you got one freak who hates chocolate...though, I gotta admit, I'd never volunteer to judge a baking contest with my weird dessert pickiness.

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  59. I've been making this since I was a tupperware dealer in 1976. They are amazing......I'm not sure why they didn't take first place. Shame on them!

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  60. We don't get caramels in India where I live. :( Can you suggest a recipe for a substitution please? I'd love to bake these! They look gorgeous! :)

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    1. Hi Amanda. I haven't tried it with homemade caramel sauce instead of the caramels and cream, but I really don't see how it could possibly be bad! Here's a link to one of my favorite caramel sauces: http://luluthebaker.blogspot.com/2011/10/caramel-apple-cake-for-club-baked.html

      Good luck!!

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  61. Is this plain or self rising flour?

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  62. I've made a version of this with my homemade caramel...we call them 2-pound bars...eat one, gain 2 pounds!!!

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  63. Can't wait to read more of your recipes, this one has received at least 20,000 repins - the most I've personally seen. Can't wait to try these either...so crossing my fingers they'll fix-up great with gf flour. Thank you for sharing!

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  64. Awesome! Have you ever tried using the Kraft Caramel Bits instead of unwrapping the ones you used? They look like this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Kraft-Caramel-Bits-11-Ounce-Bags/dp/B00110HEH0/ref=sr_1_20?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1328309831&sr=1-20

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    1. I have and they are wonderful! I haven't noticed any difference in how they perform in a recipe, but not having to unwrap all those sticky, little squares is fantastic!

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    2. Thanks! Do you happen to know the equivalents between the two?

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    3. I happen to have a bag right here! 1 cup of Kraft caramel bits equals 24 squares, so to equal the 32 squares in this recipe, you need 1 1/3 cups of caramel bits.

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  65. Definately going to make these this weekend. They sound blue ribbon quality to me. Look out Publix, here I come! Yummy!

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  66. Thank goodness I found it!! I saw the recipe the other night and forgot to repin it :(. I did a search for the recipe and no luck finding this one, until I checked images looking for the picture lol, talk about raving lunatic!! Have a pan cooling right now and dying to dig in!! Thank you for sharing!!

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  67. I just made these!! What a fabulous recipe. I was impatient with my caramel and burnt it, it was still salvageable and you couldn't tell once they were baked. Thanks for sharing : )

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  68. HI there Lulu, thanks for sharing this recipe! Since I have pinned it on my board it has been re-pinned so many times! I haven't made it yet but its on my list of this to do, I might do it for my work colleagues for Valentines.

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  69. Hi there these look wonderful but could someone tell me what caramel squares are and where I would get them from? Thank-you.

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    1. Hi Lesley-Ann. Caramel squares are little cubed caramel candies, usually wrapped in clear plastic. They have them on the candy aisle of most grocery stores. The brand I always use is Kraft and they come in a yellow bag, although I think there are others brands out there too. You shouldn't have any problem finding them, but if you do, you can make any recipe for homemade caramels and use that instead of the caramel/cream mixture.

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  70. I just found your blog today because of pinterest. This post was hilarious. (and the cookies look good too)

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  71. After these came out of the oven, they looked so good my boyfriend didn't wanna wait for them to cool. I stuck them in the fridge just to keep him from hovering over them! Our waiting finally paid off - these things are out-of-this-world good! I just made a small pan of them, I can already see I will have to make another, lol. Thank you so much for sharing this glorious recipe!

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    1. Putting them in the fridge has the dual benefits of keeping them out of the way AND getting them cool faster! Glad you loved them!

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  72. These are delish, found them on Pinterest and made them for Christmas this year. They were the first to be finished off. I declair you a winner!

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  73. Would this recipe work if I didnt use the store bought carmels. I make my carmel from scratch. Would it work the same? I just live far out in the country so its not easy for me to make the trip to town I like just having everything ready in my own home.

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    1. I haven't tried it, but I think it would definitely work with a homemade caramel instead of the store-bought caramels. I'm thinking a recipe for caramel candies would probably work a little better than a recipe for a caramel sauce (just thickness-wise), but I don't see how the results could be bad either way! Good luck, and please let us know if you try it!

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  74. I liked them but they were way too sweet for me. I'll be adding salt next time.

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    1. Hi Brenna. I always make sure I use salted butter when I make these and that seems to help balance out the sweetness.

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  75. I'm not a fan of oatmeal. I wonder if I can use something else. I have a canister of "grape nuts" cereal that I think I could try. And finally, I can use my caramels for something! Bought 4 bags on sale in November (I guess people stop making caramel apples when Christmas season hits). Now I can use them! YAY!

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    1. Grape nuts sound like an interesting idea. Let me know if you try it and it's delicious!

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  76. I just made these and let me just say----they were delish!! My absolute new favorite! The hardest part is keeping my husband from eating it all!

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  77. I made these tonight with a bag of soft Werthers caramels (I couldn't find the Kraft kind) and they are so delicious! I will definitely be making them again. Thanks!

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    1. Noelle, it's good to know they work with other things besides Kraft caramels! I didn't know Werthers made soft caramels, and now I might have to go buy myself a bag!

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  78. Wondering if anyone has tried these with milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet. My family prefers milk chocolate over semi-sweet in most recipes. Based on the comments of one reviewer who found that the middle was not done when she doubled the recipe, would you suggest sticking with the original quantities in an 8X8 pan?

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    1. Hi masv. I prefer milk chocolate chips in most recipes, but since this one is so rich and sweet with semi-sweet chips, I'm afraid using milk chocolate would push it right over the edge! However, if you try it and it is awesome, let me know! Also, I've always doubled it and never had problems with the middle not being done. I do always have to stick it in the fridge to help it set up, but no problems otherwise!

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  79. Going to make these after work! I'm excited, they look amazing!

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  80. My Mom made a square like this for us when we were kids and I now make them for my kids. They are still my favorite, the only difference is I put the caramel first and then sprinkle the chocolate chips over that then the top crust. Best treat ever!!!

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  81. I cannot imagine anyone would pick the white chocolate/cranberry/oatmeal cookies compared to this! However, where I'm from, these would have been considered "bars" and not "cookies". If you were specifically told to enter cookie recipes, maybe that hurt you? If so, next time take a biscuit cutter and cut them all round. ;)

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    1. Hi RitaB. Yeah, I'm still stumped about the loss!

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  82. Lulu - I made these for a work cookie contest yesterday and WON! Whoo hoo - this is a joint victory! We won a unicorn pinata (seriously) and a Target gift card.

    Thanks again for the rockin' carmelitas!
    TyAnn

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    1. Congratulations TyAnn! I always knew they were winners!

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  83. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!....And easy peasy!

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  84. Hello, these look amazing and I plan on making them to bring over a friend's house this weekend. Do you think I can use mini (the really tiny) chocolate chips instead of regular sized chocolate chips? Also, do you recommend using unsalted or salted butter? Does it matter?

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    1. Hi Stacey! I think mini chocolate chips will be fine, and I use salted butter for this recipe! There isn't any extra salt in them, so I think salted butter makes them taste better. Have a fun weekend!

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    2. Thanks for your quick reply. Making them later today. That should be fine if I am taking them to a party tomorrow night, right? I will store in an airtight container. Do you have a preference over dark or light brown sugar?

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    3. I think the only problem with making them now for a party tomorrow night is trying not to eat them all before-hand! I usually use dark brown sugar because that's usually what I have on hand. I pretty much disregard that part of a recipe and use what I have.

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  85. In the middle of making these and I am not sure if I am going to be able to wait until I am finished to dig in! Just the crust out of the oven looks fantastic! I will post tomorrow after I serve these, can't wait!

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  86. This post made me laugh too! :) Maybe there was a secret criteria for the oatmeal cookies. Like it had to have a certain amount of oatmeal in it and absolutely no caramel! :( They look divine. I can't wait to try them!

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  87. Here's what happend: the judges all have children that are on a very long waiting list to get into a very prestigious private school. Guess who is the principal of said school? You guessed it: white chocolate cranberry lady.

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    1. I think you must be right, Valerie! Definitely something fishy going on...

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  88. I've made these twice in a little over a month! LOVE them to the moon! :) Do you think they freeze ok?

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    1. I've never tried, but I really don't see why it wouldn't work to freeze them.

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  89. I LOVE me some Carmelitas and I am busy making them right now! Don't hate me for saying this, but have you gotten your hands on the winning recipe? Not that I would have chosen them as the clear winner, but I certainly wouldn't mind doing a side by side taste test! :)

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    1. You know, I think they said they would send out the winning recipes in their monthly newsletter, but I don't know if they ever did. Hmmmm. Off to check my email archives!

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  90. OMG Lulu - you're hysterical. I absolutely loved your story, and I think the whole thing was rigged. Not only did I repin the recipe on my pinterest page, but I also made these this morning. They are absolutely INCREDIBLE!! You should have won - hands down. I honestly didn't think that I'd like them because they sounded so sweet, but they have just the right amount of sweetness to them. I had to taste them before they cooled off. Big mistake. I polished off almost half of the pan in about an hour. That was so good that I'm heading into your site to find more recipes. Thanks for that one!!

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    1. Hi Shelly. They are very dangerous, aren't they!

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  91. Someone may have asked this already, but are "rolled oats" the same as old-fashioned oats? Or would quick oats be better?

    Thanks! Excited to make these- they sound & look delicious!

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    1. Hi Caroline. Yes, rolled oats and old fashioned oats are the same thing. I think you probably could use quick oats, but I've never tried. :)

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  92. Thank you Lulu for sharing (and Pinterest for the discovery!), so so delicious!! I used Pascal Columbines (Aussie brand) and they have 34 in a packet and the two extras were perfect to get me through until my first batch was ready to eat. The base is similar to ANZAC biscuits (Australian biscuit)but minus a few things.... will try add coconut next time for an experiment

    Thanks again! Now off for a run........ and then some more!

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  93. They look wonderful - do you think could I use half and half or milk with the carmel squares in order to make a healthier recipe?

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    1. Hi Scott. I would think either of those options would work. I think the cream is just used to turn the caramel squares into a caramel sauce, so the goal is to thin them out. Milk or half and half should work. Let me know if you try it and it doesn't work!!

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    2. The original recipe I have and used for years (from 60s)said to use can milk(5Tbs if making 9x13 pan)with (Kraft my personal fav) caramels in double boiler. I have also used caramel ice cream topping, only if I couldn't find the caramels. The more you make them you will find which combination of ingredients you truly like, such as butter vs margarine, milk chocolate vs semi, nuts or not nuts, packaged caramels vs homemade caramel. Its fun trying them all out, family & friends will love you for it!

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  94. How on earth did these not win?!?!?!!

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    1. Lol, Keeley! It's been a couple of years, and I still have no idea!

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  95. This has to be one of the funnies stories I have read! Laughing with YOU. THEY so should have won. This will be the 3rd time I am making these MELT IN YOUR MOUTH BEAUTIES for a dinner party this evening. I will also be making them next weekend for a couples shower. WE ALL LOVE THEM. You are the BIG winner at our house! Thanks for sharing your story.

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  96. Just made these tonight. That 'jury' of judges had to have been rigged. No way would I eat a dried cranberry over these puppies. Absolutely delicious. Bravo. Those judges are morons. Plain and simple. (Plus, they are so stupid easy to make!!!! Can't believe I pinned the recipe and waited 3 months to get around to making them.)

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  97. That was a really funny story. You sound just like how I would have acted!! They sound delish and I can't wait to try them! Thanks for the funny story!

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  98. Can't wait to try these....which oatmeal works best? Old fashion or Quick 1 Minute cook kind?

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    1. Hi Razahaba. I always use old fashioned oats, but I'm sure either would work.

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  99. ....already made them today....incredibly delicious! Make sure you have a cold glass of milk on hand, lol. How well do they freeze?

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    1. Razahaba--I've never tried freezing them. If you give it a go, let us know how they turn out!!

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  100. Carmelitas are one of my favorite treats from childhood, looking forward to trying these!! One question, I recently moved to New Zealand and have not been able to find caramels! If I make homemade caramels do I need to altar anything else in the recipe, like the cream? Thanks for your help! :)

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    1. I think that mixing the cream and store-bought caramels together is basically the equivalent of caramel sauce. SO...if you can't find caramel candies, just make a homemade caramel sauce and don't worry about the caramels and cream.

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  101. Dear Lulu,
    Here's the deal girl you were robbed! You should have won hands down...feet, legs the whole body down. I have a very similar recipe called Snicker Brownies. My recipe calls for walnuts instead of oats, and I use canned milk in the carmels instead of cream, and the brownie is made from some of the canned milk plus butter in a german chocolate cake mix. When it is all put together it resembles your delicious Carmelitas. As one carmel-choco lover to another hang in there it's lonely at the top!

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    1. Haha, thanks! Someday they'll win something, I just know it!

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  102. All I can say is OH... MY... GOODNESS! These are INCREDIBLE! Lulu, THANK YOU for sharing this recipe! I just finished making them (no, literally JUST finished) and they are amazing. My husband is at a meeting, but he'll be back soon and I can't wait to impress him with these! And they are so EASY! I'm DEFINITELY going to be making these for years to come!

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  103. I used to make these years ago but lost the recipe...THANK YOU very much for publishing. The only think I did different was I didn't use chocolate in it and I also put some chopped nuts on the top with the crumbles. So now I will have to try it with chocolate in it also..haha

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  104. I live in an area where I cannot buy caramel candies either. I do have a recipe for caramel sauce, however. If I make my own caramel, how much do you think I need to equal the 32 melted candies with cream?

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    1. Hi Candy K. I don't know how much caramel you would need, but I think 2 cups of caramel sauce would work. Next time I make Carmelitas, I'll measure the amount of caramel sauce and update the recipe.

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  105. These sound awesome and the picture is delightful on its own. I will be in a fundraiser cook off in a couple of weeks. I plan to make these. I make about 3 or 4 desserts and enter the one my team gives the most votes. After all, it is a team effort. These sounds so scrumpdilliumptious that I am excited to add them to my tried and true recipes to see how they turn out!

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    1. Good Luck Tommie Sue!! I hope they win for you!

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  106. The BEST dessert recipe I've found in a long time. I added a little sea salt to the top (about 10 minutes into cooling.) YUM!! A keeper!!

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    1. Mmmm, sea salt sprinkled on top sounds delish! I have a little container of fleur de sel that I save for special projects; maybe I'll try that tip next time I make carmelitas!

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  107. Just made these today. A slice if heaven!! Actually about 4 pieces of heaven. Who can eat just one?

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    1. Moderation goes right out the window with these, doesn't it!

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  108. Had a neighbor who made a bar just like this that my family loved. Just checked the recipe card and the ingredients are the same except she used to use butterscotch chips. Try it sometime. (Sweet tooth just kicked into overdrive!!)

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    1. I'll have to try butterscotch chips next time. Sounds delicious!!

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  109. Just found this on pinterest - sounds yummy and will have to try. But I have to say: the font you use is TERRIBLE to read! I had to skip over your story to the recipe because it was very difficult to read.

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    1. Thanks for the heads-up. I just changed fonts last week, and while I think the new font is beautiful, I certainly don't want a font that people can't read. I'll have to find another one that is beautiful and legible!

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  110. All I can say is WOW!! I made these this weekend and they were a HUGE hit, everyone is still raving about them :) I will be making these many times over! Thank You!

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  111. Lulu, I've just right now discovered your website thanks to Pinterest and it's amazing!!! Thanks for shares all this recipes and I'll try next WE Carmelitas!
    Greetings,
    Maggy

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  112. Giggled my way through your post. The contest was obviously rigged or these would have won. I love carmelita's but never make them. Simply to addicting I can't stop until they are gone. The only suggested improvement is using left over homemade carmels from another baking venture and toasted pecans in the top crumbles.

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    1. How do you end up with leftover homemade caramels? I didn't think such a thing was possible!

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  113. these look amazing!
    i’ll be sure to make them on the next occasion sweet treats are required :)

    i myself stay away from contests as they seem always a bit unfair...
    but here is one i want to share with you (something you may want to try yourself) —> http://bit.ly/JpTk6C

    cheers!

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    1. Those cookies look amazing! I'll give them a try next time my family asks for chocolate chip cookies. I think we even have a toblerone stashed away in the cupboard!

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  114. Just made a pan of these using 1 cup of cajeta and a combination of milk/dark chocolate. I am bringing them tonight to a friend's cookout. By the smell in my kitchen, I hope they enjoy them as much as I did making them!

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  115. Okay... Update on my post -- these babies disappeared almost IMMEDIATELY. They were being eaten along with the steaks and ribs as if they were a side dish. Huge thanks for sharing your recipe! :D

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    1. Lol Kimberly! I'm glad they were a big hit!

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  116. So good; made these last night and ate one during a midnight craving...darn ;)

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    1. I think you showed great restraint by only eating one! Good job!

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  117. stumbled upon your blog from Pinterest, and must admit seeing these brought a tear to my eye. We've been making these for many, many years, but I've never heard them be called Carmelitas - they've always been known in my family as "Aunt Viv's caramel bars". Sadly, Aunt Viv has passed on - but that recipe will forever be in my Christmas Cookie rotation. Thanks for the memory.

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  118. Made this recipe again but used thinly sliced apricots seasoned with molasses, cinnamon and ginger in place of the chocolate and used only 1/4 of the caramel. It was another hit out of the park. I think your oatmeal cookie base is amazing!!

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  119. This is one of the best dessert I've ever eaten! Thanks for sharing.

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  120. Oh my gosh while your cookies look delicious. You are hilarious! I love your story here b/c its sooo me! I would have done the same thing! Especially with the cashier! I was laughing so hard! I can't wait to make these though! My sister and I will probably eat the whole pan in 2 days too! ~ Casey

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    1. Thanks Casey! I really think I could eat the whole pan by myself if I had to!

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  121. I made these the other day and maybe I did something wrong, but it had the consistency of sand and didn't hold together... it's like the recipe was missing a second cup of flour and a couple eggs...

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  122. I made this recipe last week and unfortunately it was a disaster! It had the texture of sand and it didn't hold together at all! It seems like the recipe is a cup short of flour and an egg or two.

    What did I do wrong?

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    1. Pesky Settler--So sorry they didn't turn out for you! I promise the recipe works. Maybe just try again in a few days! I tried a Mario Batalli recipe for browned butter-sage sauce for gnocchi and it turned out terrible. I thought, "That Mario Batalli is full of crap!" and then realized the next day that I had repeatedly read the recipe wrong. Whoops!

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  123. Thanks for this I just made them and they are soo good. I added a little sea salt on top of the caramel as I love salted caramel and that made them all the tastier. Thanks

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    1. I love salty desserts; I'll have to sprinkle a little of my fleur de sel stash on top next time I make them!

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  124. These look amazing! I am going to make them RIGHT now!! I think we will have a little vanilla ice cream with it! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Bruce and Brandi--Oooooooh, vanilla ice cream! I've can't believe I've never thought of that!

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  125. These are AMMMMAAAAAZZZZZIIINNGGG and has made me a goddess in the eye's of my coworkers! Thank you for sharing!

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  126. Made these a week ago, doubled the recipe, ate almost the whole pan and gained 7 lbs. (0: THEY ARE SO GOOD!! Do you think they would work with wheat flour and oats instead of all purpose flour?? Or would that make them too dense?

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  127. Gosh THIS LOOKS DIVINE! I am definitely going to make them. I just want to ask, I don't get the caramel squares here where I live, can I use caramel sauce to substitute? what else could I use? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Sandra. I haven't tried it, but the recipe calls for a caramel sauce made from the melted caramels and the cream, so I think you could easily use a caramel sauce instead of those two ingredients. I would maybe try two cups of caramel sauce. Next time I make them I'll measure how much sauce the melted caramels and cream make and update the recipe.

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  128. Are cookies and bars the same thing? Maybe it was a technicality? These look amazing, I'm going to make my own gluten free version.

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  129. I've been making these for years--one of my favorite recipes--we throw chopped pecans on with the chocolate chips and call them turtle bars. My recipe calls for a jar of Smucker's caramel ice cream topping, just thicken it slightly by mixing in 1/4 cup of flour--lots easier than unwrapping and melting Kraft caramels! It is also easy to make gluten free--there is enough structure with the oats that you can use just about any GF flour as a substitute and it will turn out okay.

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  130. A can of condensed milk eliminates having to make caramel sauce :) I love these. Need to make some now.

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  131. These look amazingly delicious! Seriously, my mouth won't stop watering after seeing your title picture.

    I am a site manager on Instructables.com, an online how-to community. Our food editor admires your work, and since you already have gorgeous photos and a write-up, I thought you might be interested in sharing your work on our site as well. You should consider submitting this (or any of your other desserts) as an entry to our Desserts Contest.

    http://www.instructables.com/contest/dessert/

    I would be happy to feature it on our site if you decide to post the instructions there and help get it noticed among our 13.8 million viewers. Let me know if you have any questions!

    Kelsey
    selkeymoonbeam@instructables.com

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  132. By far and away my new favorite dessert. They've been a huge hit in my office! Three of us have made them now and only time will tell how many more of us will be making these in the future! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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    1. Keep spreading the love Michelle! I love to hear that people made them for their office or family are church group and that the carmelitas were a gigantic hit!

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  133. These are so awesome! The office ladies at my son's school LOVED them. Thanks for sharing. Your story cracked me up too - you totally should have won. I'd keep checking the results too. I featured this recipe on my blog. Thanks again for sharing!

    http://thepolkadottedturtle.com/carmelitas-yum-yum-yum/

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  134. while I absolutely love white chocolate/cranberry oatmeal cookies, and happen to think that everyone should make them for the fall at SOME point in life, I can't see how they could beat these...
    if originality had any sort of say there's no way white-choc-cran oaties could win a contest.

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  135. How sad that these didn't win! These are absolutely delicious and my dad asks for them all the time. I'm guessing they thought they were not really an oatmeal cookie... But the taste of these should have persuaded them to pick you anyways.

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