While we work on all that leftover lamb, here’s a recipe for one of our all-time favorite cookies, and one that Jeremy requests every holiday, if not more frequently. This year I decided to be selfish and make them after all the other Christmas cookies, so we could keep them to ourselves.
It’s your basic crumb-crusted bar cookie: half the crust gets pressed in the bottom of the pan, pre-baked, and then covered with nutty-chocolatey-caramelly goodness and the remainder of the crumbs. Very easy. I cringe every time I buy the caramel topping because it’s practically all high-fructose corn syrup, though, so for next time I’ll have to look into alternate brands or experiment with making it myself. One other note: my original recipe calls for quick-cooking oats, but we buy the thick old-fashioned kind from Bob’s Red Mill, which works just fine here. You can always pulse old-fashioned rolled oats in the food processor once or twice to make the equivalent of quick-cooking.
2 C AP flour
2 C oatmeal
1.5 C brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 C unsalted butter, softened
6 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 C walnuts, chopped
1 (12-oz) jar caramel topping (like Smuckers)
3 T AP flour
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine flour, oatmeal, soda, brown sugar and salt; using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your hands (which works best for me), cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Firmly pat half of mixture into the bottom of a greased or nonstick 13×9 pan; reserve remaining half for topping.
Bake crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips and nuts. In a small bowl, stir together caramel sauce and flour; pour evenly over crust and nut mixture, avoiding the edges of the pan. Cover with reserved crumb topping and return to oven for 18-22 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool thoroughly before cutting into squares and serving. (These make a mess, albeit a delicious one, if you try to eat them too warm; they need some time for the soft crust and gooey innards to set up.)
Update 11/9/10: Jeremy requested carmelitas, but I can’t bring myself to buy jarred caramel ice cream topping anymore, so I tried my hand at a homemade caramel sauce using a recipe from Martha Stewart. It tasted good and had the right consistency, and even made just the right amount for this recipe, but the finished carmelitas practically hemorrhaged butter when they were freshly cut, and the next day, we didn’t get as much of that gooeyness as we like to see in these cookies. I may have to go for a straight caramel cream sauce next time, rather than one using butter and brown sugar.
Update 6/15/11: This time around I used homemade dulce de leche (or cajeta) as a substitute for caramel topping, and it worked perfectly! I always have some on hand since it is a great way to use up extra milk, and it is just the right consistency for this recipe.
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