The Weekend Dish-Chocolate Caramel Dandies

The Backyard Sisters are getting competitive. The LA Times is holding the third annual cookie recipe competition and we have entered our favorite recipe from our annual Four Sisters Cookie Bake. Entries are being accepted until 5PM PDT today so if you’re feeling the calling to share we welcome the competition. Voting will take place on the LA Times facebook page from November 2-12. We encourage you to visit and vote, especially for ours if you like what you see.  You can peruse all the entries, or search for Chocolate Caramel Dandies. Here’s our entry:

Chocolate Caramel Dandies

If you close your eyes shortly after you slide a pan of crumbly Chocolate Caramel Dandies into the oven, you’ll notice a slight scent of roasted almonds, faint, as if a street vendor one block down has just begun warming his parchment packets of crispy delicacies.

This scent heralds the arrival of the annual Four Sisters Great Cookie Bake, a raucous all-day affair when we, with as many of our ten children as are in town, gather in Pasadena or Torrance or Trabuco Canyon to continue a tradition reaching back to our maternal grandmother and her three sisters.  We bake as if Christmas Eve couldn’t happen if we didn’t fill the white oval platter, big as a hug, to tipping with cookies made from recipes smudged with cocoa and butter and child size fingerprints and as inextricable from our Christmas memory as Santa and a tree and twinkly lights.

We make fudge and peppermint fudge. We bake molasses crinkles, delicate thin sugar crispies and frosted sugar cut-outs. We bake chocolate mud puddles and powdered sugar-covered snowballs and everyday chocolate chip cookies to keep the husbands away from the specialties and we often try something new, but we always, always, always bake Chocolate Caramel Dandies.

In fact, we usually bake two batches because they’re everyone’s favorite, including our neighbors who anticipate their own red plate gifts from the Four Sisters Great Cookie Bake.  It’s the timpani of a milk and semi-sweet chocolate duet, served upon a toasty almond-oatmeal crust and mellowed with a swirl of smooth caramel that thrills.  Even though Chocolate Caramel Dandies are as easy to make as a good decision, we reserve these treats for that one magical week in December when we share our good fortune and good cooking with each other and now here, we share with you.

Chocolate Caramel Dandies

Chocolate Caramel Dandies

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease a 9 x 13″ pan.

1   3/4 C all-purpose flour

1/4 C almond meal

2 C old-fashioned oats

1C packed brown sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 C (2 sticks) butter, melted

2 C (12oz. pkg) chocolate chips.

(I usually mix 1/2 milk chocolate and 1/2 semi-sweet.)

1 C caramel ice cream topping

1/3 C all-purpose flour

Combine 1 3/4 cups flour, almond meal, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Stir in butter.  Mix well.

Measure out one heaping cup of crumble and set aside.

Press remaining crumble mixture into greased 9 X 13″ pan.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Let chips melt (about one minute) and spread evenly over crumble mixture.

In a small bowl, combine caramel topping with remaining 1/3 C flour.

Drizzle evenly over melted chocolate chips.

Sprinkle with reserved crumble mixture.

Bake at 350 degree for 20-23 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool in pan on wire rack then cut into small squares. Makes about 24 two-inch bars.

Tossing our oven mitt into the ring.

~ Catherine and Sue