by Amy Bradley
I will be honest – I have never had Dulce de Leche in my (almost) 30 years living on this earth. But now I wonder, “why did I wait this long to try it?!?!” Last week, I wanted to create something quick and easy for Cinco de Mayo. So, if you are looking for something that is simple to make, yet still impressive and most importantly delicious, look no further.
These cookie bars have an oatmeal base so they are thick and chewy. I included a few teaspoons of ground cinnamon to add a little spice to this Mexican-themed dessert. The batter is very sticky, so be prepared to wash your hands a lot if you are like me and hate having your hands dirty (lol). The top layer of batter should not fully cover the Dulce de Leche layer, so that beautiful caramel color can peek though.
One thing I wanted to know is what is Dulce de Leche? Is it caramel? The answer is, not quite! Caramel is made from boiling sugar with water, but Dulce de Leche is made from sugar (Dulce) and milk (de Leche). Caramel also hardens when it is cooled, whereas Dulce de Leche stays thick and creamy. Since I didn’t have a lot of time – or patience – I decided to use canned Dulce de Leche, rather than make it from scratch. If you wanted to, you could absolutely create it from scratch. I picked up some Nestle La Lechera Dulce De Leche, instead. I spread a thick, even layer of Dulce de Leche as the center of my cookie bars because who can get enough sweet stuff, am I right?! I used a small offset spatula to get it into all of the corners.
These Cinnamon Dulce de Leche bars taste incredible when cold, stored in the refrigerator. The Dulce de Leche tastes sweeter and the flavors are more distinct when the bars are chilled. Trust me! Though they will still be tasty at room temperature, as well.
Cinnamon Dulce de Leche Bars Recipe
Total Time: 2.5 hours (includes cooling time)
Yield: Up to 24 bars (depends how you cut them)
Materials & Tools
- 9×13 inch baking pan
- parchment paper
- non-stick spray
- stand mixer or hand mixer with beater attachment
- 1 or 2 rubber spatulas – this one is my favorite!
- small offset spatula
- measuring cups and spoons
- medium-sized spoon
- medium mixing bowl
- microwave safe bowl
- wire cooling rack
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened – you can use unsalted or salted
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 2 (14 oz.) cans of Dulce de Leche,
— or homemade Dulce de Leche (you will need 3 1/2 cups)
- Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, so that there is a small overhang on each side. Lightly spray the parchment and any exposed metal inside the pan with non-stick spray.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed (increase to medium-high once combined), until the mixture is creamy.
- Add eggs and mix until combined. Stop to scrape down the edges if needed with a rubber spatula.
- Add in the milk and vanilla and continue beating on a low speed until combined.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and oats. I used a rubber spatula to mix the dry ingredients as thoroughly as possible.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, about 1/4 of the mixture at a time. Mix together on a low speed after each addition. (You may need to use your spatula to finish mixing the dry and wet ingredients together if any of the flour mixture settles at the bottom of the bowl.)
- Empty both cans of the Dulce de Leche into a microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute, stirring at 15 second increments.
- Spread a thick, even layer of the oatmeal cookie mixture in the bottom of the baking pan. You should use about 2/3 of the mixture. Note – I had some difficulty doing this with the spatula due to how sticky the mixture is – don’t be afraid to press it in to the pan with your hands.
- Next, spoon the warmed Dulce de Leche into the pan. Use the offset spatula to spread the layer out evenly.
- Top with heaping spoonfuls of the oatmeal cookie mixture. The Dulce de Leche should peek through the top.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the pan on top of a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Then, cover lightly and place in to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Cut the bars while they are still in the baking pan (I cut the pieces in 4×6, because the bars are very hearty.) Use the parchment paper overhang to gently lift the bars out of the pan.
- The bars are best served cold, but can also be served at room temperature. Store leftover bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Recipe adapted from High Heels & Grills blog.
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