Desk-hopping Cosmic Caramel Oatmeal Bars
The recipe for these gooey, candy-topped oatmeal bars has been playing musical desk drawers since 2007. It showed up five years ago when my day job office put together an employee cookbook.
A student employee, John, brought the recipe card to work to submit to the cookbook. He has since moved on within the company but the recipe has stayed in my work group ever since, moving from desk drawer to desk drawer, even between buildings.
I added peanut butter to the crust but you could skip it if you want. And be creative with the toppings. Butterfinger pieces might be an excellent choice in place of M&M’s. You could even add chopped nuts or crushed pretzel pieces to add a salty crunch.
The original recipe was called Pizza Bars, but that seemed a little too plain for these hyped-up, caramel bars loaded with chocolate and oatmeal. So, they have a new name now, along with a new home — my recipe box, and yours.
For Fourth of July holiday fun, here’s red, white and blue Cosmic Caramel Oatmeal Bars. Use red and green mini M&M’s candies for Christmas, pastel minis for Easter, and traditional colors for everyday fun.
Cosmic Caramel Oatmeal Bars
- jelly roll pan approximately 15" x 10" x 1" high
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups quick-cooking oats
- 11 ounces caramel candies
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup mini M&M's candies
- 1 cube vanilla almond bark
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Heat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Grease a jelly roll pan.
- Unwrap caramels and place in a small saucepan. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine soda, salt, flour, and oats. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl cream butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined.
- Press peanut butter mixture into greased pan.
- Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. While it's baking, move on to the next step.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the sweetened condensed milk with the caramels. Stir constantly because it burns easily. Remove from heat once melted and creamy. When the crust is finished in the oven, pour the caramel over the crust.
- Toss the chocolate chips onto the hot caramel. Let is sit for a couple of minutes, just until the chocolate is soft and then gently spread the chocolate over the bars. Top with mini M&M's.
- In a small bowl, melt almond bark and oil in microwave, stirring until smooth. Drizzle with a fork over the bars. Let cool for a couple of hours before cutting. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
All text and images © Staci Mergenthal • Random Sweets
These look so good!! I reckon they’re healthy, too, if they’ve got oats in 😉
Exactly – the perfect breakfast food, for me at least, not the kids. 😉
Haha – sounds perfect 😉
Loving the pretzel idea. I’m all about some salt with my sweets. Harvest M&M’s would be sooo cute for Halloween parties at school!
Great idea, Heather! I’d love those two together. If you make them that way, let us know how they taste.
This looks so delicious! I love every single ingredient in the recipe!
Me too! I love, love, love oatmeal in my bars and cookies. You’ll appreciate how easy they are to make, too. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool before you can cut into them.
These look fabulous.
Thanks, Teresa – they really are. It’s funny how long this recipe was around and I had never baked them. I hope you get a chance to enjoy them, too.
I probably will now that the holidays are upon us!
Cosmic is such an appropriate name for these bars. They look out of this world delicious.
You are right-on, Paula!