Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil and grease with nonstick spray.
Prepare the crust by creaming together butter and powdered sugar for 2-3 minutes until very light and fluffy. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined. Spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the crust starts to look "dry" and the edges are just barely golden.
While your crust is baking, prepare the caramel layer. Stir the coconut flakes in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes until the flakes just start to brown (continue to stir throughout and do not cook too long or they will burn!) Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a bowl so they stop cooking.
Add caramels and heavy cream/milk to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on half power for 2-3 minutes, stirring every so often until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla, then add coconut flakes and stir.
After removing crust from oven, pour caramel mixture over the crust. Allow to cool completely. (You can speed up the cooling process by putting it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes)
Once completely cooled, drizzled melted chocolate chips over bars and sprinkle with coarse sea salt if desired. Cut into squares and serve.
Kraft makes caramel 'bits' which are sold in a bag near the chocolate chips in most grocery stores. One bag of these is perfect for this recipe.