I like good food! Even better, I like cheap good food. Best of all, I like cheap good food made at home. Pay no heed to my dearth of cooking talent, you can call me the frugal gourmet even if I can’t tell my anise from your anise. I have similar food and music talents – can’t tell you why it’s great, just know it is. Layla by Eric Clapton – great! Oatmeal Carmelitas from Pillsbury Publications – great!
Is the Carmelita the best tasting dessert ever concocted? Probably not, but based upon creation effort compared with the end result, it is simply awesome. Unlike some other recipes, I can find all the ingredients without having to ask the produce manager, “Excuse me sir, but where are your tumeric fingers, ground Sumatran Rhino horn, and Horn of Africa savory drive spices?”
How good are Carmelitas? My son was failing third grade when I suggested bringing the teacher some Carmelitas – they gave him six college credits and advanced him into seventh grade. I stopped at an intersection with a disheveled homeless man holding a sign reading ‘Why lie – I need a Carmelita recipe’. The neighbors threw a brick through my window when I refused to share the recipe. I brought my boss a fresh batch and he let me leave work fifteen minutes early on Christmas Day.
You may be asking yourself, “Self, how much do these amazing Carmelitas cost?”
Being frugal, I wanted to know the exact price per nibble myself. Unfortunately, we had a slight calculator malfunction and my 10 semesters of collegiate calculus didn’t include any teaspoon conversions (I liked some of the classes so much, I took them twice).
Now you are probably asking yourself, “Yourself, how did Tim ever invent such a wonderful recipe if he has his head up his anice?”
The answer is quite simple – I didn’t. A few years ago while wandering a bookstore, I ran across the best recipe book I’ve ever purchased – 1 Pillsbury: Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook. They were practically giving it away – purchase one small tall grande low fat skim milk sugar free lactose intolerant latte and receive a free recipe book. $17 later and the book was mine for free. I’m not going to say it’s a great book, but it’s a great book!
Now onto the recipe (straight from the book1):
2 cups all-purpose flour
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
1 (12.5-oz.) jar (1 cup) caramel ice cream topping
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (6-oz) pkg. (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 13×9-inch pan. In large bowl, blend all crust ingredients at low speed until crumbly. Press half of crumb mixture, about 3 cups, in bottom of greased pan. Reserve remaining crumb mixture for topping.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine caramel topping and 3 tablespoons flour. Remove partially baked crust from oven; spring with chocolate chips and nuts. Drizzle evenly with caramel-mixture; spring with reserved crumb mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees F for an additional 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Co0l completely. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours until filling is set. Cut into bars.
High Altitude–Above 3,500 feet: No change.
Nutrition Per Serving: Calories 200; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 26g; Fat 9g; Sodium 160mg.
When preparing, I have only two crumbs of advice – use real butter and top notch caramel (such as Smuckers). Enjoy!
1 Pillsbury Publications, Pillsbury: Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1996), 182.