Chocolate Pecan Crumble Bars

Makes 32-ish bars
Adapted from Baked Explorations

For the Oatmeal Base & Crumble Top:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (though, whoops, we used light brown sugar)
1 3/4 cup rolled oats
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 hefty cup lightly toasted pecans, roughly chopped
1 1/2 generous cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the Caramel Sauce Layer:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch glass or lightly colored metal baking dish. Rip off a piece of parchment paper and lay perpendicular in the bottom of the pan with several inches hanging over the long sides of the pan. Butter this parchment as well. This just makes the whole thing easier to remove.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar. Stir in the oats. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the melted butter, stirring until combined and when the mixture is chunky. Like a crumble, duh. Lightly press about 2/3 of the oat mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven to cool on a wire rack for a bit, leaving the oven on. Sprinkle the chopped pecans and chocolate chips over the somewhat-cooled crust.

Meanwhile, make the caramel filling. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt together the butter and light brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and allow it to boil for one minute, stirring constantly. After 1 minute, remove the pan from the heat and quickly whisk in the cream and the vanilla. Immediately pour the caramel evenly over the pecans and chocolate chips, taking care to cover as much of it as you can. The caramel is rather thin and instantly soaks into the crumb base so try to spread or pour as evenly as possible. If not, no biggie. The whole thing bakes together and tastes divine at the end anyway. Crumble the remaining oatmeal mixture over the top and bake for 10-12 minutes further or until the top is golden brown. 

Allow the bars to cool in the pan for a few minutes and then refrigerate for about an hour. Cut the bars into squares and serve.

These bars will keep, covered tightly, at room temperature, for about 3 days.