Toasted Oatmeal Pecan Bars with Chocolate and Caramel. Toasted oats and pecan base topped with chocolate and caramel. Caramel topped with additional toasted oats and pecan halves. Dessert bars baked until top is golden and oats mixture is baked lightly crispy.
This dessert bar is not elegant or elaborate. But they are delicious, and a fan favorite. People will buy boxes of these.
I jokingly call these breakfast bars because they contain oats. A 2 x 2-inch square bar is probably 1000 calories, but they are worth the indulgence.
They consist of a toasted oats and pecan layer, a chocolate layer, a caramel layer, and another toasted oats layer. Pecan halves top the bars before baking.
Toasting the oats for about 10 minutes in the oven gives these bars extra flavor, a sturdier base, a light crunch, and an added nuttiness to go along with the pecans that rest on top. Old-fashioned oats are the choice here. Spread the oats on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring half way through. The oats should be light golden in color.
The toasted oats are combined with pecans, creamed butter and sugar, vanilla bean paste, and eggs. This is basically an oatmeal cookie mix and the base for the dessert bar.
The toasted oat pecan base is topped with a mix of melted dark chocolate and sweetened condensed milk. When you bite into one of these bars the chocolate immediately hits you. It adds a rich, decadent flavor.
For the caramel layer, soft caramels are melted and mixed with heavy cream. The heavy cream makes the melted caramel smooth and easy to spread. I make homemade caramel a number of ways, usually following Carole Bloom’s recipe for classic cream caramels, found in her book Caramel. I slice the caramels into 1-inch squares and wrap in wax paper. Kraft caramel and Werther soft or chewy caramel candies work equally as well. In a pinch you could use homemade caramel sauce.
More toasted oats mix over the caramel, leaving gaps to expose the caramel, for visual appeal, and so it hardens ever so slightly.
Pecans top the oat and caramel. I’ve used other nuts, including almonds, macadamias and walnuts.
The bars are baked until the cookie base is set and the top is golden.
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Toasted Oatmeal Pecan Bars with Chocolate and Caramel
- 270 grams old fashioned rolled oats (3 cups)
- 290 grams all-purpose flour (2-1/4 cups)
- 55 grams chopped pecans (1/2 cup)
- 5 grams fine sea salt (1 teaspoon)
- 226 grams unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
- 300 grams brown sugar (1-1/2 cups)
- 100 grams egg (2 large)
- 80 grams heavy cream (1/3 cup)
- 5 grams vanilla bean paste (1 teaspoon)
- 250 grams dark chocolate chunks (2 cups)
- 1 each can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
- 2 cups soft caramel candies, about 40 unwrapped candies
- 80 grams heavy cream (1/3 cup)
- 55 grams pecan halves (1/2 cup)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang, or extra foil along the sides to help lift the bars from the pan after baking. Butter the bottom and sides of the foil lined pan. Set aside.
- Spread old fashioned rolled oats in single layer on large baking sheet. Toast in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once after about 5 minutes. Oats should be lightly golden.
- Remove toasted oats from oven and cool completely.
- Add toasted oats, chopped pecans, fine sea salt, and all-purpose flour to medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Add unsalted butter and brown sugar to stand mixer. Beat on medium until smooth. About 4 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla bean paste, and heavy cream to stand mixer bowl. Beat about 1 minute or until well incorporated.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer. Add toasted oats mix to stand mixer bowl. Stir well with a wooden spoon or your hands.
- Spread about 2/3 of the toasted oats mixture evenly onto the bottom of the baking pan.
- Add dark chocolate chunks and sweetened condensed milk to small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is well combined and smooth.
- Pour the chocolate mixture over the oat pecan base. Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
- Add soft caramel candies and heavy cream to small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramels have melted and the mixture is well combined and smooth.
- Pour melted caramel over chocolate layer. Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
- Dollop toasted oats mixture over caramel, leaving gaps. Place pecan halves, ridges facing up, randomly across the top of the caramel and oats.
- Bake 30 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack. Remove bars from pan using foil overhang. Remove foil and cut bars into desired shapes.