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These scrumptious, gooey, chocolaty morsels of goodness are known around these parts as “Care Package Bars”. Let me back up a bit and explain.
Here is Boy #1. When he left for college I was all in a dither. How could this be happening? Who ever thought this was a good idea? I mean, you put your whole heart and soul into this thing and then they just up and leave after eighteen years? Okay, a bit dramatic, but you get the gist of it. So off he went to beautiful Orange County in Southern California to attend UC Irvine and live down the street from the beach, and, oh yes, to work hard and study. Life is hard for young people today.
I immediately started planning for his first trip home. I believe I actually booked his flight home for Thanksgiving the week he left. Hey, it made me feel better. So did sending him care packages.
These Caramel Oat Bars were always one of his favorites and after packaging them up and sending them to him, I came to discover they are the perfect baked goodies to send in a care package. They are super moist and gooey coming out of the oven so if you wrap them well in foil and package them in a plastic container to protect them from damage, they will be perfect and fresh upon arrival.
Flash forward to today. Boy #1 has graduated. Now Boy #3, who attends college locally, comes to me and says he wants to send a care package to his girlfriend who has recently left for her first year of college. Boy #3 knows his way around a kitchen and wanted to bake something to include in the package (I know, right? Nice guy). Caramel Oat Bars are the perfect solution.
Here he is unwrapping the caramels (please ignore my slightly disheveled pantry in the background – who left that door open anyway?)
Melting the caramels together with the cream.
Pouring on the ooey gooey caramel.
Fresh out of the oven.
Well, someone’s got to make sure they turned out good.
- 32 individually wrapped caramels unwrapped
- 5 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter melted
- 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt together the caramels and heavy cream, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the melted butter until well blended. Measure out 1-1/2 cups of the mixture and set aside for later. Press the remainder of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared 9x13 inch baking pan.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove and sprinkle with chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour the caramel mixture over the top and then crumble the reserved crust mixture over the top.
- Return to the oven and bake for an additional 14 to 16 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.