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Caramel Chocolate Chip Oat Bars (Copycat Potbelly Dream Bars)

three dream bars stacked with a spoon of caramel next to the and a glass of milk in the background.

These dreamy caramel chocolate chip oat bar cookies taste just like the Potbelly Dream Bars, and they are so easy to make. Bake them once, and you'll be hooked!

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour, but all purpose works too)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I like dark chocolate)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a square baking dish with parchment paper or lightly grease it.
  2. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, oats, flour, baking powder and salt. Add vanilla extract and melted butter. Stir until the dry mixture is completely moistened.
  3. Reserve about ¾ cup of the crumble mixture for the topping, and tightly press the rest into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove crust from oven. Spread evenly with caramel sauce, then sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  5. Sprinkle the reserved crumble mixture evenly over the caramel and chocolate. Bake an additional 15 minutes, or until topping is golden. 
  6. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting into bars. The caramel will still look bubbly and loose when you take them out, but will set up as the bars cool.
  7. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes

  • Use a thick caramel sauce that comes in a jar (for ice cream), not the thin kind that comes in a squeeze bottle. If you feel so inclined, you can make your own, such as my salted miso caramel sauce
  • I find that these bars bake more evenly in a metal pan. If you're using a glass or ceramic dish, you may need to add a few extra minutes to the bake time.
  • I like to keep the reserved crumb topping in the refrigerator while the bottom crust bakes. This keeps nice,, defined 'crumbs' as the topping bakes. 
  • Feel free to add anything else you like with the caramel and chocolate chips, such as walnuts, coconut, or pecans.

Keywords: potbelly dream bars, caramel chocolate chip oat bars, caramel chocolate chip oatmeal bar cookies