Wow, I had forgotten how great these bars are. I love the texture of the slighlty crisp crust with the gooey caramel layer filled with nuts and chocolate.
I have been making these since high school (one could say it was my "signature" dessert back then). The recipe comes from our dear friends at Pilsbury and is so easy I used to have it memorized.
The thing I love about these bars is that they are great warm, room temperature or even straight out of the fridge (which is where I keep them during the summer months or the caramel gets a little too gooey for eating with your hands). The oatmeal/brown sugar crust provides a nice and hearty base for these bars and keeps them from being overly-sweet.
Here is the recipe directly copied from the website. My changes are in red.
2 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose or Unbleached Flour (I used Gold Medal)
2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups margarine or butter, softened (I used butter)
1 (12.5-oz.) jar (1 cup) caramel ice cream topping
3 tablespoons Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose or Unbleached Flour (I used Gold Medal)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup Milk chocolate and 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I usually use Walnuts but omitted nuts this time)
Heat oven to 350°F.
Grease 13x9-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 for 10 minutes or until light brown.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine caramel topping and 3 tablespoons flour; blend well.
Remove partially baked crust from oven; sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts.
Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.
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.