Hello, Good News! Welcome to our blog, where we share delicious recipes, tips, and tricks for making your favorite treats at home. Today, we are going to show you how to make Potbelly Dream Bars, the rich and decadent oatmeal bars with caramel and chocolate that are so popular at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop chain. If you love these bars as much as we do, you will be happy to know that they are very easy to make with simple ingredients and a few steps. Plus, you can customize them to your liking by adding nuts, coconut, or different types of chocolate chips. Let’s get started!
Potbelly Dream Bars are a type of bar cookie that consists of a buttery oatmeal crust and topping, a layer of melted caramel sauce, and a sprinkling of chocolate chips. They are soft, chewy, and gooey, with a perfect balance of sweetness and richness. They are also very filling and satisfying, making them a great dessert or snack for any occasion. Potbelly Dream Bars were created by Sheila Hastings, the wife of the original owner of Potbelly Sandwich Shop, which started as an antique store in Chicago in 1977. The bars were so popular that they became a permanent fixture on the menu, and have since been enjoyed by millions of customers across the country.
What You Need to Make Potbelly Dream Bars
To make Potbelly Dream Bars, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups of light brown sugar, packed
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 40 caramels, unwrapped
- 5 tablespoons of evaporated milk
- 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
- A pinch of sea salt or kosher salt (optional)
To make Potbelly Dream Bars, you will need the following equipment:
- A 9×13 inch baking pan
- Parchment paper or cooking spray
- A large mixing bowl
- A medium saucepan
- A wooden spoon or spatula
- A measuring cup and spoons
- A knife or pizza cutter
How to Make Potbelly Dream Bars
Step 1: Preheat the oven and prepare the baking pan
Preheat your oven to 350°F and line your baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on the sides. Alternatively, you can lightly grease your pan with butter or cooking spray.
Step 2: Make the oatmeal crust and topping mixture
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar with a wooden spoon or spatula until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt and stir until a crumbly dough forms. Reserve about 3/4 cup of the mixture for the topping and set aside.
Step 3: Press the crust mixture into the pan and bake for 10 minutes
Transfer the remaining oatmeal mixture to the prepared baking pan and press it evenly into the bottom with your hands or the back of a measuring cup. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges.
Step 4: Melt the caramels and evaporated milk in a saucepan over low heat
In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the caramels and evaporated milk and stir constantly until smooth and melted. Be careful not to burn the mixture or let it boil.
Step 5: Spread the caramel sauce over the baked crust and sprinkle with chocolate chips and salt
Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool slightly. Spoon the caramel sauce over the crust and spread it gently with a spatula. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the caramel layer. If desired, add a pinch of sea salt or kosher salt for extra flavor.
Step 6: Sprinkle the reserved oatmeal mixture over the chocolate chips and bake for another 15 minutes
Crumble the reserved oatmeal mixture over the chocolate chips and bake for another 15 minutes or until the topping is golden and the caramel is bubbly.
Step 7: Let the bars cool completely before cutting and serving
Remove the bars from the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack. Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper and cut into squares or rectangles with a knife or pizza cutter. Enjoy your homemade Potbelly Dream Bars!
Nutritional Information and Variations
One Potbelly Dream Bar (assuming 15 bars per batch) has approximately 434 calories, 21 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 56 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. It also contains 56 milligrams of cholesterol, 242 milligrams of sodium, and some iron and potassium.
You can customize your Potbelly Dream Bars by adding some of these ingredients to the oatmeal mixture, the caramel layer, or the chocolate chip layer:
- Chopped nuts such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, or peanuts
- Shredded coconut
- Butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or dark chocolate chips
- Dried fruits such as cranberries, cherries, raisins, or apricots
- Mini marshmallows or M&M’s
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom for some spice
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Potbelly Dream Bars?
Potbelly Dream Bars are a type of bar cookie that are sold at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop chain. They are made with a buttery oatmeal crust and topping, a layer of melted caramel sauce, and a sprinkling of chocolate chips. They are soft, chewy, and gooey, with a perfect balance of sweetness and richness.
Who invented Potbelly Dream Bars?
Potbelly Dream Bars were created by Sheila Hastings, the wife of the original owner of Potbelly Sandwich Shop, which started as an antique store in Chicago in 1977. The bars were so popular that they became a permanent fixture on the menu, and have since been enjoyed by millions of customers across the country.
How do you store Potbelly Dream Bars?
You can store Potbelly Dream Bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. To thaw them, let them sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving.
How do you reheat Potbelly Dream Bars?
You can reheat Potbelly Dream Bars in the microwave for about 10 seconds per bar, or in the oven at 300°F for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overheat them or they will become hard and dry.
How do you make Potbelly Dream Bars vegan?
You can make Potbelly Dream Bars vegan by using vegan butter, vegan brown sugar, vegan caramel sauce (such as this one), and vegan chocolate chips. You can also use gluten-free flour and oats if you have gluten intolerance or allergy.
How do you make Potbelly Dream Bars healthier?
You can make Potbelly Dream Bars healthier by using some of these substitutions:
- Use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour for more fiber and nutrients
- Use coconut sugar or maple syrup instead of brown sugar for a lower glycemic index and more natural sweetness
- Use coconut oil instead of butter for more healthy fats and less saturated fat
- Use homemade caramel sauce instead of store-bought ones for less additives and preservatives
- Use dark chocolate chips instead of semisweet ones for more antioxidants and less sugar
- Reduce the amount of caramel sauce and chocolate chips by half for less calories and sugar
What can you serve with Potbelly Dream Bars?
You can serve Potbelly Dream Bars with some of these accompaniments:
- A scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for extra creaminess
- A drizzle of chocolate sauce or salted caramel sauce for extra decadence
- A sprinkle of chopped nuts or shredded coconut for extra crunch and flavor
- A glass of milk or a cup of coffee or tea for a refreshingcontrast and balance