I’d like to dedicate this recipe to anyone who thinks that Pillsbury Bake Off recipes are nothing more than prepackaged products rearranged to make variations on a refrigerator biscuit theme. Some of them are – it’s a competition sponsored by General Mills and many name brand, prepackaged products are qualified for use in the entered recipes – but there are just as many recipes that start with ordinary ingredients and are the type of dishes that any home cook/baker might cook up on a given day. And, of course, the contest was started not only to promote their brand, but to give home bakers an outlet to showcase (and be rewarded for) their culinary prowess.
Getting back to this particular recipe, it was a finalist in Pillsbury’s 7th Grand National baking competition – a.k.a. the 1956 Pillsbury Bake off. It didn’t win the grand prize, but the woman who submitted the recipe (Carol Markford from Pennsylvania) must have been very close because these brownies are creative, delicious and easily one of the most addictive brownies I’ve ever tasted.
They are essentially brownies with an oatmeal cookie crust on the bottom. The cookie layer is simple and heavy on both sugar and oats. It is partially baked before the brownie topping is added to the pan, giving the sugars a chance to begin to caramelize and harden (hence the “caramel” part of the brownie name). The brownie layer is added on top of the hot oatmeal cookie layer and the whole thing is baked through. When they come out of the oven and cool down, you end up with a batch of rich brownies with a good chocolate flavor and an amazingly flavorful crust. I say that the brownies don’t quite make the “moist and fudgy” category because they are relatively thin, though they are very moist and tender. They contrast perfectly with the crisp, and slightly candy-like caramel-oatmeal base.
This recipe is easy to make and takes very little active work time. The only problem I encountered was spreading the brownie batter into the pan on top of the cookies. The crust is only partially baked and very hot when you add the brownie batter. As a result, the still-soft cookie dough moves around a bit when you try to spread out the brownies. Don’t worry if it looks a bit messy while you’re working; take your time and spread lightly and carefully. Using an ungreased pan will help hold the oatmeal cookies in place and there should be just enough butter in the recipe that cutting the brownies and serving them should be no problem.
Caramel Oatmeal Brownies
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1-oz unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, brown sugar and oatmeal. Pour in melted butter and stir to combine. Pour into ungreased 8-inch square baking pan.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, start on the brownie batter.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
In another small bowl, melt unsweetened chocolate and butter together. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together sugar and egg until light colored. When butter mixture is no longer hot, stir it into the egg mixture. Stir in the flour mixture, milk and vanilla extract, followed by the mini chocolate chips.
When cookie base comes out of the oven, pour brownie batter on top and spread it out as best you can, trying to get it into the corners of the pan.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack before slicing.