Two years ago when Sarena reviewed some delicious candy bars for Go Dairy Free, she was inspired to adapt her sister's candy bar-like bar recipe for her own dairy-free needs. Last year her husband was diagnosed Celiac, so she has now developed a gluten-free version of this recipe too! We've included both the original dairy-free and the updated dairy-free and gluten-free option below for this amazingly indulgent recipe. If you can't find a caramel sauce that is dairy-free at your local store, the Sweet and Silky Butterscotch Sauce recipe or the Quick Caramelita Sauce recipe from Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook should work beautifully in these bars.
Sweet Sundays: Sarena Shasteen ~ If you're looking for a treat to take to BBQs this weekend, these caramel gooey bars are really simple and easy to carry with you. This is my most requested recipe from friends. Seriously though, oats, chocolate, caramel…can you really go wrong with that combination?
My sister is the one that gave me this recipe. I am not sure where it originates from, but whoever came up with this little concoction from heaven, is a super genius! I don't make these often because my husband does not want to be responsible for eating ALL of them … they are that addictive.
These are easy to make ahead, and I actually recommend making them the day before you are serving them (so head to the kitchen now!). After a day of rest, the flavors of the bars really meld together and they are easier to cut … and trust me, these treats are worth the wait …
Caramel Gooey Bars
This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, optionally Gluten-Free and Wheat-Free, optionally Peanut-Free and Nut-Free, and optionally Soy-Free (Earth Balance now has two soy-free margarines!).
- 2-1/4 cups Flour (for gluten-free, I use 1-1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour and 1-1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill White Rice Flour)
- 2 cups Quick Cooking Oats (for gluten-free, I use Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Quick Cooking Oats)
- 1-1/2 cups Brown Sugar, packed (dark or light)
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1-1/2 cup Cold Dairy Free Margarine (I use EarthBalance)
- 2 cups Dairy Free Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1 cup Pecans, chopped, optional
- 12 oz Caramel Sauce (use your favorite recipe or see recipe recommendations above)
Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
In a bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour (for gluten-free, use the 1-1/4 cups all-purpose gf flour and 1 cup of the white rice flour), oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.
Cut in margarine until crumbly. Set half aside for topping.
Press the remaining crumb mixture into a greased 13 x 9 baking pan.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and pecans.
Whisk caramel topping and remaining flour (use the 1/4 cup of white rice flour for gluten-free) until smooth. Drizzle over top.
Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.
Bake an additional 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours before cutting.
Recipe and photos, by Sarena Shasteen of The Non-Dairy Queen. Sarena is a freelance writer and recipe creator with a culinary degree and extensive experience in special diets. For her own needs, Sarena is dairy-free and soy-free, but with a Celiac husband, gluten-free has also become their new normal.