Chocolate Caramel Bars

Published on Dec 22, 2018

*This recipe was originally published 12/22/2009. Most recent update 12/20/18.
These Chocolate Caramel Bars are basically German chocolate cake in cookie bar form. A sweet shortbread crust topped with coconut, pecans and sweetened condensed milk finished off with a caramel drizzle sprinkled with chocolate. The right amount of chewy, a touch of salty and perfectly sweet!

Close up shot of chocolate caramel bars on a rustic silver platter

If you like German chocolate cake, you’ll love these cookie bars. They’ve got all the elements of the cake (minus the cake) plus a sweet surprise of caramel. While they’re perfect for a holiday treat platter they are also delicious enough to enjoy anytime of the year.

The best kinds of recipes are those that are good on day one but better on day two and three. This is one of those recipes. The prime day to enjoy these is when they are completely cooled (and somewhat hardened) the next day and totally set up.

How to Make Chocolate Caramel Bars (step-by-step)

1. Gather your ingredients. You’ll need flour, brown sugar, butter, pecans, sweetened coconut, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, caramel, milk and chocolate chips. Preheat oven to 350F.

Ingredients on a counter used to make chocolate caramel bars2. For crust: in a medium bowl, stir together flour and brown sugar.

Bowl of flour and brown sugar on a counter3. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

4. Press onto the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

5. Sprinkle coconut over hot crust.

6. Top with chopped pecans. 

7.  For filling: in a small bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk 

8. Add vanilla. 

9. Carefully pour over pecans and coconut, spreading evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Collage of step-by-step photos on how to make chocolate caramel bars

10. In a small saucepan, combine caramels and milk. Cook and stir over medium-low heat just until caramels are melted. 

11. Drizzle caramel over filling.

12. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

13. Cool completely. Cut into bars.

Collage of step-by-step photos on how to make chocolate caramel bars

What the best way to cut my bars for a clean edge?

  • I’ve found the best way to get a clean edge on your baking bars is to make sure your bars are completely cooled. I like to make my bars a day ahead of time, they tend to cut much better that way!
  • Run your very sharp knife under hot water before each cut. Make sure to let the water flow on the front and back of your knife, then wipe dry with a paper towel between each cut. It can be a little tedious but it’s definitely worth it.

Important Tips for Making Chocolate Caramel Bars

  • Be sure to use packaged caramels and not a caramel sauce for this recipe. It will need to set up and somewhat harden, which sauce will not do. Otherwise you’ll end up with goopy & messy bars (which would still be delicious, just not practical).
  • Be patient waiting for your caramels to melt. Do not turn the burner above medium low & do not add more than the 2 tbsp. of milk. It will take most of the time the crust is baking to melt so don’t rush it.
  • My absolute favorite pastry blender is made by OXO. The handle is a part of the wire cutter, unlike cheaper versions – making other’s very dangerous (I’ve cut my hand a time or two when the handle gives way and slips).
  • You’ll want your butter to be cold. Do not use softened or melted butter in this recipe otherwise your crust will not bake properly.
    • I recommend pulling the butter straight out of the fridge on its way into the step where you’ll be using it. Cube it for easier incorporation into the flour mixture. 
  • Once you’ve sprinkled the chocolate chips at the end of the recipe process do not disturb them. Let them cool completely before covering with plastic wrap or a lid. This will ensure they’ll look perfect when it’s time to cut your bars! It’ll take 1-1/2 hours but will be worth it.
  • I highly, highly recommend making these bars a day before you need them. This will make certain that you can cut a clean bar.

Close up shot of chocolate caramel bars on a rustic silver platter

For more delicious caramel recipes check out these favorites:

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Close up shot of chocolate caramel bars on a rustic silver platter

Chocolate Caramel Bars

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: caramel bars, Chocolate Caramel Bars, german chocolate, holiday cookie bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 36
Calories: 252 kcal
Author: Yvonne

These Chocolate Caramel Bars are basically German chocolate cake in cookie bar form. A sweet shortbread crust topped with coconut, pecans and sweetened condensed milk finished off with a caramel drizzle sprinkled with chocolate. The right amount of chewy, a touch of salty and perfectly sweet!

Print

Ingredients

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter cold
  • 2 c. coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 c. sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 20 caramels unwrapped
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.   

  2. For crust: in a medium bowl, stir together flour and brown sugar. 

  3. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press onto the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

  4. Sprinkle coconut over hot crust. Top with chopped pecans. 

  5. For filling; in a small bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. 

  6. Carefully pour over pecans and coconut, spreading evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

  7. In a small saucepan, combine caramels and milk. Cook and stir over medium-low heat just until caramels are melted. 

  8. Drizzle caramel mixture over filling. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. 

  9. Cool completely. Cut into bars.

Recipe Notes

  • Be sure to use packaged caramels and not a caramel sauce for this recipe. It will need to set up and somewhat harden, which sauce will not do. Otherwise you’ll end up with goopy & messy bars (which would still be delicious, just not practical).
  • Be patient waiting for your caramels to melt. Do not turn the burner above medium low & do not add more than the 2 tbsp. of milk. It will take most of the time the crust is baking to melt so don’t rush it.
  • My absolute favorite pastry cutter is made by OXO. The handle is a part of the wire cutter, unlike cheaper versions – making other’s very dangerous (I’ve cut my hand a time or two when the handle gives way and slips).
  • You’ll want your butter to be cold. Do not use softened or melted butter in this recipe otherwise your crust will not bake properly.
    • I recommend pulling the butter straight out of the fridge on its way into the step where you’ll be using it. Cube it for easier incorporation into the flour mixture. 
  • Once you’ve sprinkled the chocolate chips at the end of the recipe process do not disturb them. Let them cool completely before covering with plastic wrap or a lid. This will ensure they’ll look perfect when it’s time to cut your bars! It’ll take 1-1/2 hours but will be worth it.
  • I highly, highly recommend making these bars a day before you need them. This will make certain that you can cut a clean bar.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Baking 2009

Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Caramel Bars
Amount Per Serving
Calories 252 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g28%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 8mg3%
Sodium 70mg3%
Potassium 137mg4%
Carbohydrates 21g7%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 12g13%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 125IU3%
Vitamin C 1.2mg1%
Calcium 36mg4%
Iron 1.1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Update notes: This recipe was originally posted in 2009 but was published again in 2018 to include step by step photos & directions, nutritional information & expert tips.
Chocolate Caramel Bars // These Chocolate Caramel Bars are basically German chocolate cake in cookie bar form. A sweet shortbread crust topped with coconut, pecans and sweetened condensed milk finished off with a caramel drizzle sprinkled with chocolate. The right amount of chewy, a touch of salty and perfectly sweet! | Tried and Tasty #caramelbars #chocolatecaramelbars #germanchocolatebars #holidaybars
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