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Chocolate Chip Cookie Oat Caramel Bars

  Ever made a house of cards?  I have.  It's not easy.  You need a good, smooth foundation, precision, balance, an alert eye, time, patience, and the ability to accept failure and try again.  Sometimes you have a plan, a picture of what you want in your head.  Sometimes you just build, and see where it takes you.

  Is it just me, or does that sound a lot like friendships?  Maybe not super literally, but you know.

  There's nothing more frustrating than a card house just falling apart.  You're building, you're being careful, and sometimes for no apparent reason, you're left with a mess.  Granted, sometimes there are obvious factors such as drafts, sudden movement, annoying siblings, etc.  But those times you don't really know, that's tough.

  How do you fix it when you don't know what broke it?

  Today is the 1st of May.  For me, there's a shadow over today, because it's been a year since I've seen a very good friend of mine face-to-face.

  I think everyone has that friend, most have more than one.  They drift, you get left behind, it happens.

  Those half friendships are on the brink of falling.  One tap, one step, one jump, and everything topples.  When cards are scribbled with words of doubt and hurt, it's only a matter of time.

  Sometimes, that tension can be worked through.  And, even if the house falls, a new one can be built.  There's always that possibility

  Here's to new houses.

  And then there are cookies.  Bar cookies.  Bar cookies are a thing, a good thing.  They don't usually topple over for no apparent reason.  But I can't say they're a very realistic friend, since they're not likely to remember you.

  Pillsbury has this fantastic recipe.  It's got oats, chocolate chips, walnuts, caramel sauce, and cookie dough.  What's not to love?  Enter the ingredients.

  • 1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated chocolate chip cookies (Pre-made dough?  Nuh-uh.  I'll go with my personal favorite, thanks.  It's worth the ten whole minutes it takes to whip together.)
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats (That's fine, good stuff.)
  •  Dash salt, if desired (Hellooo Fleur de Sel)
  • 2/3 cup caramel ice cream topping (Only if it's homemade.  Joy the Baker-ize it with this lovely stuff!)
  • 5 tablespoons Pillsbury BEST® all-purpose flour (Flour, yeah yeah.  Moving on.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (Keep it pure.)
  • 3/4 cup Fisher® Chef's Naturals® Chopped Walnuts (Of course!)
  • 1 cup Hershey's® semi-sweet baking chips (6 oz) (Cough...Ghirardelli...cough)
  I'm a total snob.  You should see the poor scribbled recipe.

  So I adapted it, my version is below.  You wanna be a lazy?  Mkay, do the Pillsbury thing, and I'll do mine.

  Happy cookie baking/card house building.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oat Caramel Bars
Yield: 16 bars

Ingredients for the cookie dough:
  • 2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats

Ingredients for the filling:
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • A dash of.pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup semi-sweet (or milk) chocolate chips
  • Fleur de sel, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease an 8x8 inch baking pan.

For the cookie dough, whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and oats.

For the caramel filling, warm up the caramel sauce (if you've refrigerated it) until warm and runny.  In a small bowl, stir together the caramel sauce, flour, and vanilla. 

To assemble, press half of the cookie dough into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spread evenly with the caramel filling.  Sprinkle on the walnuts and chocolate chips.  Crumble and press the remaining the dough on top.  Sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to release the sides.  Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving (I didn't, as my gooey pictures prove).  Slice 4x4 for sixteen bars.

Sources: very loosely adapted from Pillsbury and Brown Eyed Baker