Last week, when we were all in Columbus at the first BELONG Tour event, Janice pulled out the most amazing treats. Do you know Janice? She works backstage at Nationwide Arena in Catering, where the speakers and staff eat.  As you can imagine, arena food can vary widely, but Janice and her crew treated us to some amazing meals. Out of all the yummy dishes we enjoyed, one of the most delicious was these oatmeal bars. As soon as I tasted one of these luscious bites of goodness, I knew I needed to get the recipe to share with you.

Janice was happy to share, pointing me to this online recipe. Come to find out, it was a Pillsbury Bake-Off® Winner way back in 1967. So thank you, Erlyce Larson from Kennedy, Minnesota for creating the recipe back in the day and thank you, Janice from Columbus, Ohio for baking it for the BELONG Team.

Oatmeal Carmelitas

Ingredients

Crust

2 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose or Unbleached Flour

2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ¼  cups margarine or butter, softened

Filling

1 (12.5-oz.) jar (1 cup) caramel ice cream topping

3 tablespoons Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose or Unbleached Flour

1 (6-oz.) pkg. (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips*

½ cup chopped nuts

Steps

1.  Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13×9-inch pan. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients; mix at low speed until crumbly. Reserve half of crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in bottom of greased pan. Bake at 350°F. for 10 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine caramel topping and 3 tablespoons flour; blend well.

3.  Remove partially baked crust from oven; sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

4.  Return to oven; bake an additional 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into bars.

If you can wait 2-3 hours after pulling these out of the oven before you try them you are a model of self-control.  If you pull out a spoon and dig in while they’re still warm, you are not alone. If you spoon some of that ooey-gooey goodness into a bowl and top it with a scoop of ice cream, you are my kind of people. Janice would be so proud.

*Janice’s version did not include chocolate chips, but here at BELONG we tend to feel if chocolate is an option the answer is always yes. But if you prefer yours chocolate-free, it will still be delicious.
The photo is not Janice’s version–we were too busy eating to take a photo–it’s courtesy of the Pillsbury website.