Over the years, Louis Lambert has fed a lot of politicians (President Clinton, every living Texas governor and both Bush presidents). He first made these decadent carmelitas for Lady Bird Johnson, who was hosting a fund-raiser for the Wildflower Center at a ranch outside Johnson City. Laced with chocolate chips, pecans and dulce de leche, these bar cookies have become one of his most popular recipes.
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3 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
One 16-ounce jar dulce de leche (1 1/2 cups); see Note
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk 3 cups of the flour with the baking soda and salt. Add the butter, oats and brown sugar and mix until combined. In a small bowl, mix the dulce de leche with the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour.
Pat half of the oat mixture into the baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Scatter half of the chocolate chips and pecans over the crust. Dollop half of the dulce de leche mixture on top. Crumble the remaining oat mixture evenly into the pan. Cover with the remaining chocolate chips, pecans and dulce de leche. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are set. Let stand uncovered at room temperature overnight. Cut the carmelitas into bars and serve.
Once cooled, the carmelitas can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
Dulce de leche, the Latin caramel sauce, is available at most supermarkets and specialty food shops.
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