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Caramel Oatmeal Brownies

Caramel Oatmeal Brownies

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.

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  • Deborah
    April 7, 2008

    I actually have one of the Bake Off cookbooks, and I love it! These look delicious!

  • Carole R.
    April 7, 2008

    I was a finalist in the 2006 PBO in Orlando. I didn’t win the grand, or any other, prize but I had the time of my life. I did not get selected for the 2008 BO which, by the way, is next weekend in Dallas.

    Keep checking Pillsbury’s site http://www.pillsbury.com for the 2010 contest. They should post the rules and eligible ingredients in early 2009.

    Like most of you I am a from scratch cook and bakeer. I had to work backwords for the bakeoff. By that I mean I had to examine a recipe and dertime which, if any, ingredients could be replaced by eligible products.

    By the way, the grand prize is $1,000,000.00 In 2006 Anna Ginsbury of cookie maddness won the grand prize with a chicken dish that used Pillsbury waffles in the stuffing. Say what you will, but you have to admit it was a very creative use of frozen waffles.

  • Carole R.
    April 7, 2008

    You could make this recipe even easier by using the refrigerated oatmeal cookie dough for the base and one of the brownie mixes.

    By the way, one roll of refrigerated cookie dough will spread nicely onto the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch.

    You could add some type of chopped nuts to the brownie mix and sprinkle the same chopped nuts on top before baking.

    See, I may have given someone a $1,000,000.00 recipe.

  • Tom
    April 8, 2008

    Wow, a recipe dedicated to me!

    This one sounds interesting, will definetly try it. Looks like a very small batch of brownies though… plus: there is baking soda in both base and batter, but no acid to start it off. Pretty useless ingredient?

  • mary
    April 8, 2008

    Is the quantity of butter correct in the brownie portion? Could it be a 1/4 lb instead of 1/4 cup? Seems like a very small amount of fat for a brownie. I’m anxious to make these but want to verify before giving it a go. Thanks!

  • Nicole
    April 8, 2008

    The recipe is correct as written. More butter doesn’t necessarily make a better brownie!

  • Beth
    April 8, 2008

    Tried these today and they are very tasty and very dangerous to have around the house! When I made them this afternoon my oatmeal base didn’t pour into the pan, I had to press it in, and the brownie layer was easy to spread over the cookie, it did pour! Love how that worked out!!

    Thanks for all the cool info and recipes you leave for us on this here blog. Keep up the great work!

  • gailey
    April 9, 2008

    i have to try this. thanks nic

  • mary
    April 9, 2008

    Thank you Nicole. I’m heading to the kitchen now!

  • J
    April 17, 2008

    Hey,oat meal as in the oatmeat which is liquidy or just the oats?

  • Suzie
    May 5, 2008

    Oh, holy yummy.

    Or Wholy yummy.

    Either are applicable.

    Best part, other than yummy: the 14 yo Boi doesn’t like them!!! Chocolate all to myself!!!

  • pickleberry
    May 14, 2008

    These are by far the best brownies that I have ever made. I did have to bake both the base and the brownie a little longer than the recipe said, but my oven can be a bit slow.

    To J. – Use dry oats, not the prepared oatmeal.

  • Linda
    June 3, 2008

    These were a huge success at work–everyone loved the caramel-oatmeal-crisp-cookie-chocolate-fudge-brownie combo. Like two snacks in one! They didn’t last long. Thanks for a great recipe to add to my collection–it will be made again and again.

  • laura
    July 11, 2008

    very very yummy.
    huge success.
    next time i might not cook the base for that long, it seemed to be a bit too hard for my liking 😛

    but overall they were fab.
    thanks heaps.

  • Ngoc
    July 12, 2009

    Amazing, amazing, amazing! Next time, I’m doubling the recipe and making it in a 13×9 pan.

  • Christina
    September 15, 2009

    I just made these brownies yesterday and there were very delicious.
    But i guess i realised that i DO like my brownie “moist and fudgy” wich these aren’t. I’m thinking of making the brownie batter x 2 and spread the whole thing on top of the caramel/oatmeal crust (wich by the way was a bit to “strong” in the flavour, but maybe that is perhaps because of the fact that I used brown muscovado sugar – next time i’ll use half of that and half regular sugar).
    Og and i would definetly add more chocolate to the brownie dough next time, but I a sucker for chocolate, so 🙂

  • Troy
    May 7, 2011

    I guess this recipe is a blast from the past for you now!

    Just made it, so, so easy & fun for a spontaneous lazy Mothers day Sunday morning bake.

    The recipe is nice and crispy at the edges & deliciously moist in the middle. I swapped the choc drops for whole roasted hazelnuts, warm & nutty.

    I guess if you wanted it stickier you could use a smaller dish for a thicker result, I like it as is because I like the choice, crunch or moist?

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