Caramel Chocolate Oatmeal Walnut Bars

This recipe is actually called “Oatmeal Caramelitas” and was the winner of the 18th 1967 Pillsbury Bake-Off.   Erlyce Larson from Kennedy, Minnesota submitted this absolutely delicious dessert.  Almost 50 years later it still is wooing dessert lovers of all kinds, including me as I do not recall ever eating these yummy bars.

I was introduced to this recipe through a fellow blogger Prudy  I just noticed (9-25) that the link is lost so if you go to her site Prudy’s original recipe is there under Oatmeal Carmelitas.  Two of my grandkids were practically fighting over who got to take them home a couple of weeks ago; one a senior in high school who is a football player and said he needs the calories and the other a sophomore away at college who does not have to worry about calories.   To top it off my son-in-law commented that “this (recipe) is a keeper”!  My step-daughter just said they come to visit and eat my food – they know there will always be good things to eat. So, you be the judge but I know your family will love these, adults and kids alike!

Like Prudy I wondered about  the name of the recipe. I did research it a little and all I could come up with is that it is a girl’s name – I think Erlyce named these after her daughter who loved this dessert her mom made.   So, I decided to change the name to something that says exactly what this dessert is but give credit where it is due.

I have included Erlyce’s original recipe from the Pillsbury Bake-Off 1967 cookbook for the heck of it as Prudy’s recipe is fantastic and I did not change one thing!  Yes, I ordered this cookbook from Amazon – amazing what is available.

Anyways, I am a librarian/teacher/book lover and so on and I am always looking for new cookbooks to add to my collection.  After looking online I noticed there were differences, which often happens with a recipe.  We tweak it to our likes/dislikes!  There were differences between the nuts, size of the baking dish, heavy cream versus evaporated milk – all minor differences.   So,  thank you Erlyce and  Prudy for introducing me to this yummy dessert 🙂

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Caramel Chocolate Oatmeal Walnut Bars

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups quick cooking (not instant) rolled oats
  • 1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/4 cups butter, melted
  • 14 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Grease a 9×13-inch glass baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour,, baking soda, salt, brown sugar and oats.  Pour in the melted butter and stir until the mixture is crumbly.  Press half of this mixture into the baking dish in an even layer.  Bake for 10 minutes, then remove.  Combine the chocolate chips and walnuts and sprinkle over the baked crust.

As the crust is (or even prior to) baking melt the caramels into the evaporated milk in a small saucepan.  Stir constantly until it becomes a thick sauce and set aside.

Pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips layer.  Sprinkle the remaining dough over the caramel so that it covers the entire top.  Use your fingers to spread it out evenly.

Bake until the top is golden brown about 20 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely before serving.

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Oatmeal Carmelitas by Mrs. Ronald Larson (Erlyce)

  • 32 light candy caramels
  • 5 tbsp. light cream or evaporated milk
  • 1 cup Pillsbury’s Best All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup Land O’Lakes butter, melted
  • 1 cup (6 -ounce package) milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Melt caramels in cream in top of double boiler.  Cool slightly.  Combine all ingredients except chocolate pieces and pecans in large mixing bow.  Press half of crumbs into bottom of 11×7-inch pan.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with chocolate pieces and pecans.  Spread carefully with caramel mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until golden brown.  Chill 1 to 2 hours.  Cut into bars.

Tip:  if desired, 3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping combined with 3 tbsp. flour may be substituted for the melted caramel mixture.

Recipe by 

26 thoughts on “Caramel Chocolate Oatmeal Walnut Bars

  1. Oh my these just sound too good! All my favorites in them…I probably would eat the whole batch myself?! HeHe. How interesting you found the cookbook from so long ago-Wow. Cheryl. Happy Baking Everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Bake-Off cookbooks are some of my favorite in my collection. It’s amazing how many of the recipes stand the test of time. These, though, sound a bit better with the addition of caramel…yummy! They look amazing. 🙂 Based on your photos, I think I know why they were fought over!


  3. Ahh…Judi.. this is so awesome!! You found the book…now how cool is that? And your bars look so delicious… and now I feel the need to make them again!
    Thank you so much for the shout out…I have to see what’s up with my link! I’m thinking it has to do with the switch to a self host site.
    Awesome post… your photos are awesome! That caramel deliciousness is truly calling my name.
    Bless Erlyce for coming up with such a great recipe! ❤


    • Thanks Prudy – I do love my cookbooks and the dessert was a big hit – I cannot wait to make it for others. When I first posted this there was not a problem, I can link to your site but not the Oatmeal Caramelitas 🙂


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