I found a traditional version of this recipe with some store-bought shortcuts online. I converted it to gluten-free and made the caramel sauce from scratch. One misstep—I used steel cut instead of rolled oats. The steel cut ones do not soften up very well, I would suggest rolled oats.
Let these bars set up for at least 4 hours before slicing at room temperature, or 2 hours in the fridge.
Yield: one 8-by-8-inch pan, 9 to 12 squares
Cook Time: 25 to 28 minutes, divided
Total Time: 4+ hours or overnight, for proper cooling
3/4 cup butter, melted (1 1/2 stick; I use unsalted butter but salted may be used)
3/ 4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup corn masa flour (the finely ground corn flour, not corn meal)
1 cup whole-rolled old fashioned oats (not instant or quick cook; I used steel cut, which worked but I would not recommend.)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup and 1 Tablespoon heavy cream, divided into ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon and 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste, if you prefer salted caramel sauce
1 teaspoon flavorings (vanilla, rum, etc.)
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch pan 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.
- Melt the butter gently, using a microwave or a stovetop.
- Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
- Add the flour, oats, baking soda, optional pinch salt, and stir until combined. Mixture will be quite thick.
- Add half of the mixture to the prepared pan (just eyeball it), and smooth it with spatula or the back of a spoon, to create an even, smooth, flat layer; set remainder aside.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, remove pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle with the chocolate.
- Heat ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon cream to a gentle boil on the stovetop in a large pan. Add ½ teaspoon of salt. Turn heat on low and keep it warm, but do not consistently boil.
- Separately, add two cups water and two cups sugar to a small sauce pan and heat to boiling. Boil until it thickens into a syrup, keeping heat low to moderate. This should take about 45 minutes. The syrup will start to darken and smell sweet. When it is a medium brown color, pour into heated cream. It will foam considerably. Stir to settle it. Add two Tablespoons of butter and stir until smooth caramel forms.
- Add additional ½ cup of cream to hot caramel mixture to thin.
- Add any flavorings to the caramel sauce you would like—salt, vanilla, rum, etc.
- 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 (I baked 16 1/2), or until edges are lightly browned and 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 should take about 2 hours in the fridge or 4+ hours at room temperature.
Bars can be served cold or at room temperature. Exceedingly gooey at room temperature.
The caramel sauce could likely be made first and then set aside for a few minutes while the crust is made and the bottom pre-baked.
Recipe adapted from Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars
Recipe from Averie Cooks.