Why is it that family recipes just taste better than any others?

I think it’s the associations we make. It’s not just the fact that those bars are absolutely delicious, it’s that they’re served at Christmas, where everyone is happy and loving and having fun.

We associate our family recipes with good times, and that just makes them taste so much better.

We have a few family recipes that, through all my trying, I just can’t seem to beat. And if I change an ingredient…well, those family gatherings aren’t so loving anymore.

My family loves their treats, but if I’m using a family recipe, well it better be the same exact recipe that my great grandma made. They’re traditionalists with their passed-down desserts.

My mother, for instance, has a wild love affair with dulce de leche. Her whole family can sit around with a spoon and demolish a jar of the stuff (as she probably could, alone). Whenever I use dulce de leche in a dessert, she scowls, tells me I’m wasting the dulce de leche, and that it’s NEVER as good in a dessert because it dilutes the flavor.

Oops, sorry mom.

These bars are another example of a dessert I better not mess with.

I know they’re not just my family recipe, and the recipe is scattered all over the internet, but to me, they represent family, and the holidays.

They’re chewy, sweet, and homey, with a little bit of crunch and chocolate. They’re not fancy or decorated or impressive to look at, but they’ll make your taste buds swoon. It’s an oatmeal cookie, sandwiches with chocolate and ooey-gooey caramel. They’re perfect for a cookie platter full of homemade, delicious treats.

Maybe, just maybe, if your family is open to them, they’ll become a family favorite of yours as well.

Serves: 36 bars
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ (2½ sticks) cup butter, softened
  • 12.5 ounce (1 cup) pre-made caramel sauce
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like using mini)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13x9-inch pan with parchment paper or foil and grease lightly. In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients; mix at low speed until crumbly but combined.
  2. Reserve half of crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for the topping. Press remaining crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of greased pan. Bake at 350°F. for 10 minutes.
  3. While the crust is baking, stir together the 3 tablespoons flour and caramel sauce.
  4. Remove partially baked crust from oven; sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips and nuts if using. Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over the top.
  5. Return to oven. Bake an additional 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 1 hour or until completely cooled. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into 36 bars.
Recipe slightly adapted from Pillsbury

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  1. Rach, these look fantastic! I want to try to make them this weekend. And yes, family recipes are just the BEST!

  2. I totally agree with you – my grandma’s cookies are my absolute favorites even though some are so simple and basic. These look amazing by the way!

  3. I just adore carmelitas! I’ve been meaning to make them for months now. thank you for reminding me. :) They look amazing.

  4. I’ve never made these before! They look wonderful.

  5. Aww.. that`s really cool how you have family traditions/recipes. I don`t have any family dessert recipes to look through and read.

    These bars look amazing!

  6. Julia @ acedarspoon.com says:

    I have not tried making these but they look so tasty!! I need to make them.

  7. I made caramelitas with pecans, homemade caramel, and no chocolate, and they were so good. Yours look lovely!


  1. […] proposed a brown sugar crust, and my head immediately went to the crust I use for Caramelitas: crumbly, caramelly-sweet from brown sugar, and a little bit of bite from the […]

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