Yesterday on Facebook I asked what recipe you'd like to see today, and the Healthier Carmelitas won by just one vote.
I love a good carmelita, but they are so sweet and not overly healthy for you. The typical recipe doesn't fit with a "New Years Resolution" of "healthy eating". So, I tweaked it a bit.
This one uses whole wheat flour, applesauce in place of much of the butter, reduced sugar and homemade caramel sauce. I also reduced the recipe size to a 9x9 pan -- making fewer of them makes it a nice treat while the bars are fresh and an even nicer treat when they don't hang around for days.
Since our aim is to make recipes healthier all year round, a pan of these fits right in!
1 C white whole wheat flour
1 C oats (OF or Quick)
~3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4-6 T applesauce
4 T butter, softened
1 C dark chocolate chips
2-3 T butter
A squirt of corn syrup
1/2 C brown sugar
Begin by combining the brown sugar, flour, oats, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. I did not pack the brown sugar, nor did I fill the measuring cup all the way to the top. No one noticed the difference.
Then, in a small bowl, melt 4 T butter.
Divide the flour mixture into two bowls that contains 1/3 and 2/3 of the recipe. In the bowl containing 2/3, add the applesauce. Start with 4 T of applesauce and mix well. Adding more T if needed. How much applesauce depends on the consistency of the wheat flour and the consistency of your applesauce. Mix until clumps form.
Add the butter to the smaller flour mixture and mix until clumps form.
You can hardly tell the difference.
Use the apple-oat mixture to make the crust of the carmelitas. Press the apple-oat mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x9 glass baking dish.
This makes a nice solid crust, and allows you to leave the butter-oat mixture for the topping where you can really savor and enjoy the butter flavor.
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes until warm and a bit puffy.
It's important here that you not over bake the crust layer because otherwise it will get very hard.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the cooling crust once you remove it from the oven.
Meanwhile, mix the 2-3 T of butter, squirt of corn syrup and brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 1 minute, stirring once.
If mixture is not completely melted, continue heating and stirring until melted. You can also melt and make this mixture on the stove top.
If your caramel is rather thin, add in 1 T flour to the caramel mixture to thicken it. If your caramel is rather thick when warm, no need to add in the extra caramel.
Pour the caramel over the chocolate chips spread on the crust.
Then, sprinkle the butter-oat topping over the filling.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until filling is bubbly and the oat topping is beginning to turn a light brown.
Remove from the oven and let stand for about 1 hour before cutting and serving. This will help the caramel to solidify.
If you can't wait, aim for about 10 minutes before trying one.
I love these because they have great flavor with the butter-oat mixture on the top, the homemade caramel in the middle and the dark chocolate chips. Yum! The apple-oat mixture on the bottom makes a nice crust, and with all the flavor, you don't miss the extra butter. And, no one will know there's whole wheat flour in the mix!!
This post is linked to: Fun with Food Friday, Recipe Swap, Friday Favorites, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Hearth and Soul, Full Plate Thursday.