Healthy Carmelita Bars

Do you love a good dessert bar? These healthy carmelita bars are a healthier option for a dessert bar that people drool over. The caramel is made from coconut milk and the peanut butter and chocolate chips on the top are of the bar give you the classic carmelita bar flavors that everyone loves!

If you are looking for more delicious bar recipes we have so many delicious bar recipes right here on FFF that are great for any gathering! Try our lemon blueberry crumble bars or these easy coconut key lime pie bars.

carmelitas on a cutting board

Church Lady Basement Bars

When I was little, I went to a traditional Methodist church. There were donuts and coffee and the service and church lady basement bars at every event! You bet your bippy that I enjoyed the classic seven layer bars, brownies, lemon bars, and everything in between.

We are all about balance here on FFF and if I was to walk in the door of my old church I would eat all the bars! Yes, those bars were made with pounds of butter and refined sugar, all of it. They are nostalgic and they are delicious. I would definitely have a stomach ache if I ate every bar I saw, but there is a way to make church lady bars a little bit more healthy.

Insert these –> healthy carmlita bars.

Healthy Dessert Options

Fit Foodie Finds is known for our delicious healthy dessert options. It’s no secret! We believe in balance and there are so many ways to enjoy a dessert without feeling guilty and without getting a stomach ache! Below are some ways you can make your favorite desserts a little bit healthier like this carmelita recipe.

Naturally Sweeten. Sometimes it’s ok to use white sugar or brown sugar. If you are looking for a healthy sugar substitute try naturally sweetening your desserts with honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar!

Add Extra Veggies. We love adding a couple of servings of vegetables to our desserts. Yes, DESSERTS. Pureed veggies like beets, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and even zucchini!

Switch up the Fat. Who doesn’t love butter? Sometimes you want to lighten up any dessert and one way to do that is to use a substitute for butter! Using coconut oil, avocado oil, or olive oil are a couple of good options. Sometimes another great alternative for an oil-free dessert is applesauce! Replace any oil with 1:1 ratio and you’re golden!

carmelitas in a pan

How to Make Healthy Carmelitas

These carmelitas are spin on a classic recipe! There is a mixture of natural sweeteners and some other classic ingredients. These carmelitas are a delicious dessert that is perfect for any party, gathering, or to keep in the freezer for a sweet treat at the end of the day.

This healthy carmelita recipe is delicious and if it is your first time making it, you’ll need some pointers! It took us a couple of times to perfect this healthy carmelita recipe. We want you to succeed your first go, so we have broken down every layer of this beautiful bar. Let’s get to work.

Crust

First things, first. Line an 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper. I take about 12 inches of parchment paper and then I cut it in half the long way. Then, I make a plus sign in the bottom of a pan with the two halves of the parchment, making sure the extra parchment paper is hanging over the side of the pan.

This is crucial for this recipe, because you have to allow the carmelitas to set in a pan for at least 2 hours. The parchment paper will aid in helping you pull the carmelitas right out of the pan.

After laying down the parchment paper, it’s time to mix all of the crust ingredients together. It is bound together with a little coconut oil and almond milk. Once all ingredients have been added to a large bowl you want to mix the ingredients together until you are able to form a ball. Take 1/3 of the crust and set it aside for the crumble topping after.

Next, place the crust ball on top of the parchment paper. With your hands or a spatula, press the crust to the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven.

carmelitas in a pan

Sauce

This caramel sauce is absolutely delicious! It is not a traditional caramel. We use canned coconut milk in this sauce.

Before mixing this caramel sauce together, be sure to place the canned coconut milk into the fridge so the meat of the coconut milk separates from the liquid.

Open the coconut milk can and scoop the coconut meat into a small saucepan and discard the liquid. Add the maple syrup, butter, vanilla, and salt to the saucepan. Whisk everything together until everything is combined and bring mixture to a boil.

Turn the heat to low and slowly sprinkle the tapioca flour into the mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Make sure that you whisk fast and try to make sure the tapioca flour completely dissolves into the mixture.

Remove the sauce from the heat and pour over the cookie crust. Be sure the crust is almost cool before pouring the caremel into the pan.

Topping

After the caramel has been poured onto the crust, it’s time for the toppings! Carefully crumble the last 1/3 of the oatmeal crumble over the caramel sauce. Make sure the crumble is evenly spread over the caramel.

Finally, sprinkle nuts and chocolate and peanut butter chips over the caramel as well. Gently press the chocolate and peanut butter chips into the caramel topping.

Place carmelitas into the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

three carmelitas stacked on a cutting board

Carmelita Tips + Tricks

  • When you first bake the bottom layer of crust make sure the crust cools before pouring the caramel layer on top of it.
  • Remember you can make these bars your own and add or skip toppings if you’d like! If you want to cut out the chocolate and peanut butter chips, feel free! Add chopped nuts instead!
  • After carmelitas have baked for an additional 15 minutes, remove them from the oven and let them sit for about 10 minutes, then place them in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before cutting into them.
  • You MUST store these bars in the refrigerator or the freezer. Because the caramel is made out of coconut, they melt quickly!
carmelitas on a cutting board

More Dessert Bars

Carmelita Bars Video

Recipe

Healthy Carmelita Bars

Do you love a good dessert bar? These healthy carmelita bars are a healthier option for a dessert bar that people drool over. The caramel is made from coconut milk and the peanut butter and chocolate chips on the top are of the bar give you the classic carmelita bar flavors that everyone loves!

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
Author: Linley Richter
Yield: 9 bars 1x
Category: Dessert
Method: Oven
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Crust and Crumble

  • 2.5 cups superfine almond meal
  • 1.5 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup room temp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Caramel Filling

  • Meat from 1 15-oz. can full-fat coconut milk*
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour (option to sub cornstarch)

Toppings

  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and cover a 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper. Then, spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Place your can of coconut milk for the caramel filling into the refrigerator if you haven’t already done this.
  2. Add all ingredients for the crust and crumble into a large bowl. Mix well (you may have to use your hands) until all ingredients are combined. It should be crumbly, but come together when you press it.
  3. Next, take 2/3 of the crust and crumble mixture and use a spatula to press it to the bottom of the square baking sheet. If it’s easier to use your hands, you can do that too! Save the rest of the mixture for later.
  4. Place crust in the oven and bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes.
  5. While crust is baking, prepare the caramel filling by first scooping out the fat from the can of coconut milk can and placing it into a small saucepan (be sure not to pour the clear liquid part of the coconut milk into the pan).  Then, add in maple syrup, butter, vanilla, and sea salt.
  6. Turn heat to medium/high and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.
  7. When the mixture has come to a boil, turn the heat to low and add 1 tablespoon of tapioca flour at a time to the caramel filling. Try not to pour all the tapioca flour in at once or it will clump! Whisk frequently and then add the second tablespoon of tapioca flour.
  8. Whisk until the tapioca flour dissolves*. Remove from heat. If the caramel is sticky and creates a film on a metal spoon, the caramel is ready.
  9. When the crust is done in the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes.
  10. Pour the caramel filling over the crust and then sprinkle on the remaining 1/3 of the crumble mixture evenly over the caramel.
  11. Lastly, evenly distribute chocolate chips and peanut butter chips over the caramel and crumble. Use your hands to gently press the chips into the caramel mixture.
  12. Place bars into the oven and bake at 350ºF for an additional 15 minutes.
  13. Remove from the oven and place in the refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.

Notes

  • *It’s easiest to skim the fat off of the coconut milk if you refrigerate your coconut milk before making this recipe.
  • *If the tapioca flour doesn’t dissolve remove from heat and pour caramel into a sieve to separate tapioca clumps from the flour.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/9
  • Calories: 463
  • Sugar: 26
  • Fat: 28
  • Fiber: 6
  • Protein: 12
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