Decadent and irresistible caramel chocolate bars are made with a chewy oatmeal cookie crust. A dessert that is easy to make and even tastier to eat!
They say that we eat with our eyes first, if that’s true, then I just demolished this irresistible gooey stack of coconut caramel chocolate bars! I’m going to warn you now, the recipe I’m going to tempt you with is for the pure chocolate and caramel lovers.
Have you noticed it’s already the season where those sweet and savvy girl scouts are standing outside the grocery stores selling those yummy green boxes of goodies? I caved and bought a box or two, haha who’s counting anyway.
I was inspired by one cookie flavor in particular. The Girl Scouts have toasted coconut and chocolate drizzled Samoa cookies, but I took it a step further and combined them with a pool of rich golden caramel, oh yes I did go there.
Have you ever had leftover caramel sauce and didn’t know what to do with it? It’s not a bad problem to have, hehe. I was recently making a super luscious chocolate salted caramel tart and had about a cup leftover of the caramel sauce. It’s a crime to let a good sauce go to waste, but I knew just what to do.
If you like crispy oatmeal cookies, then the bottom crust and loose crumble that tops each bar is a dream. I have to say that I am a big fan of making slab type bar cookies now because you can make everything in one pan. You still get the cookie texture and flavor, but they’ve been supercharged!
What’s not to love about these bars? First off, I toasted the sweetened coconut flakes because I love the deep flavors that develop when lightly browned, plus the coconut aromas are also elevated. I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips, and as you can see, there is a generous amount that melts when baked and runs through the center of each bar, chocoholics rejoice!
So about that caramel sauce, a gift from the food gods and goddesses! I always make my own caramel sauce from scratch because it’s very easy to do, it just takes some watching so not to burn. I have a go-to recipe that I always use and share with you here, you have to try it, you will never buy store-bought again!
However, if you don’t have time, a pre-made version is a great time-saver, or even a can of dulce de leche would be fantastic. I used half the amount of caramel sauce than the original recipe. With the extra sauce, I drizzled it on top, very generously of course.
Even though you will be tempted to eat the whole tray of coconut chocolate caramel bars by yourself, be nice and share them with your loved ones and buddies, you may even gain some new best friends. Once you take a bite and lick the sticky sweet caramel from your fingertips, these bars will be your next sweet obsession!
How is Caramel Sauce made?
It’s all about heat and chemistry, kind of like when you fall in love the first time, but this is between sugars and proteins. The sugar is first heated with a small amount of water to dissolve the sugar crystals quickly, and once the temperature of the solution reaches 338°F, the sugar compounds break down and new compounds are formed and the brown color appears. You have to watch this formation very carefully as the sugar can burn quickly if not removed from the heat; you want to stop cooking once you reach a dark amber color. This is when cream and butter is added to the molten sugar to give the super-rich and creamy texture. The Maillard reaction between the sugar and proteins in the cream gives color and caramel flavor notes, one of the most delicious science reactions of all time! (Source: The Science of Cooking)
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Chewy Caramel Chocolate Bars
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup rolled oats, not instant or quick cook
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes, sweetened, lightly toasted
- 1 cup chocolate chips, bittersweet, 60% cacao
- 1 cup caramel sauce, (recipe to follow or store-bought)
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved. If needed, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan.
- Increase the heat and bring to a boil without stirring, about 5 to 6 minutes. Until the syrup is a dark amber color.
- Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter and salt. Set the caramel sauce aside, allow it to cool at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch pan (or equivalent) with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Lining your pan is highly recommended for ease of cleanup due to the stickiness of the caramel; set pan aside.
- In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 90 seconds.
- Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
- Add the flour, oats, baking soda and stir until combined. The mixture will be quite thick.
- Add approximately half of the mixture to the prepared pan (you want the mixture to cover the bottom of the pan completely), and smooth it with a spatula or the back of a spoon, to create an even smooth, flat layer; set remainder aside. Bake for 10 minutes.
- In a small sauté pan, toast the coconut flakes over medium heat until the flakes are lightly toasted and fragrant, shaking the pan to evenly toast.
- After 10 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle with the coconut flakes, and then the chocolate chips.
- Slowly and evenly pour caramel sauce over the chocolate.
- Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.
- Return pan to oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned, and the center is bubbling slightly.
- Allow bars to cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving, giving the molten caramel time to firm up. This can take up to 4 hours or overnight at room temperature. You can speed it up by placing the pan in the fridge with a sheet of foil over the top.
- Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
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