Three layers of utter deliciousness with a delightful presentation: Salted chocolate chunk shortbread, salted caramel and sparkly multi-colored dark chocolate make for the tastiest millionaire bars ever!
Meet the fanciest cookie/candy bar hybrid you can make at home: a millionaire bar with salted butter & chocolate chip shortbread, smooth salted caramel and a gorgeous marbled chocolate topping!
Millionaire shortbread. Millionaire bars. Caramel shortbread. Copycat twix bars…. these names all refer to a layered cookie/candy hybrid and are comprised of a shortbread layer, caramel middle and a chocolate topping. There are a ton of variations for these bars, but this may be the original recipe . It is truly a gem recipe because of the different textures and how easy it is to bake such an impressive dessert at home!
But, here’s the thing, I think it’s a little too easy to make overly sweet millionaire bars, so much that one bite is more than enough. So when I began
dreaming about developing this recipe I knew that a. I wanted to salt the caramel well and leave out any sugars I didn’t need; b. use dark chocolate wherever I could to balance out the sweetness, and c. give the bars a phenomenal base that was crumbly and yummy in all the ways shortbread could be, and could stand alone as a delicious cookie. So, here is just that!
Millionaire bars are three parts: shortbread, caramel, and chocolate on top. First, we make the shortbread layer (it can be done in a food processor, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer), press it into a pan and while it’s baking, we’ll make the caramel and then we’ll pour it over the baked shortbread. It doesn’t need long to set and while it’s cooling you’ll melt the chocolate for the top layer. The finished bars need awhile to fully set and once they do, they slice very neatly and make the absolute perfect edible gift.
To make this layer I took inspiration from the 2017 internet famous chocolate chip cookies, Alison Roman’s Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbreads. Some heralded those as the new best cccs but short of using some brown sugar and adding chocolate – they are not a chocolate chip cookie at all. They are, however, a delicious shortbread. To mimic the flavor, I made my shortbread with salted butter (which lends a deeper saltiness than salt) and I used brown sugar which underscores that chocolate chip cookie suggestion in the dish. Lastly, I added pieces of dark chocolate.
To make this layer you’ll simply combine all the ingredients into a dough, fold in the chocolate, and press the dough into the bottom of a baking pan. This is the only part of the dish that is baked. While it’s in the oven, you’ll make the next layer.
Typically the caramel middle of a millionaire bar is made by cooking together sweetened condensed milk, golden syrup and butter. The sugars that are in the sweetened condensed milk (and the syrup) are what will caramelize. I add some sea salt and vanilla to mine to make the flavor really stand out. This is probably the most important layer of the dish (otherwise you essentially have chocolate covered shortbread).
Over medium heat cook together the sweetened condensed milk, butter and syrup. This is the most tedious step in making the dish: you’ll need to stand over the pot and watch this cook, stirring continuously. In seconds, the milk can scorch so you need to stay close by to adjust the heat and stir the sauce as it caramelizes. The color will change subtly and you’ll notice at some point it goes from light brown to medium brown, the thickness of the sauce will be an indication it’s done too. Best way to know when this is done is to use a candy thermometer (or an instant); it should reach 220 F.
I wish this was my idea, it’s so pretty! In fact I saw it here and was mesmerized so decided to recreate it here, for a holiday vibe. After all, these are exactly the kind of ‘cookie’ I’d like to add to a cookie box or hand out as a gift. Mostly this layer is dark chocolate (in keeping with our theme of balancing the sweetness) but I add just a little bit of white and milk (or caramelized white) chocolate to get a three toned swirl.
The trickiest part of this is melting the chocolate without overheating it. Once we pour it onto the completely cool caramel layer it needs to set without untempered streaks. You’ll set aside a bit of the chocolate as a ‘seed’ and you can either melt it in the microwave in 15 second increments (stirring in between each – and stopping when it’s mostly melted, the residual heat will melt the rest of the chocolate) or over a double boiler (make sure the bowl does not touch the water in the pan and keep it at a low simmer, stirring frequently). Again, once it has mostly melted remove it from the heat, add the seed you’ve set aside and stir until it’s smooth.
The caramel needs to be completely cool before the chocolate layer goes on top (or it will not set as it should). Pour the chocolate over the cooled caramel, smooth into an even layer and allow it to set. You can do this in the fridge to speed up the process.
Salted butter: If you don’t have or can’t find salted butter and must use unsalted add an additional 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt to the recipe.
Brown Sugar: Light or dark brown works here.
Lyle’s Golden Syrup: This is darker than corn syrup, has a light caramel flavor and is a little less sweet than corn syrup. If you cannot find it in your store substitute with corn syrup.
Sweetened Condensed Milk: Eagle Brand® makes my favorite one and it can be found in most grocery stores in the baking isle.
Flaky sea salt: Maldon makes these large flakes of sea salt that taste AMAZING in everything. In the caramel we are making they truly make a difference in taste. If you absolutely can’t find it, use 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt.
Chocolate: For the base you can use mini chocolate chips or you can finely chop a good chocolate bar (you’ll want them to be small chunks). For the topping choose a good quality chocolate (I like Lindt!) or a very good quality chocolate chips (Guittard makes my favorite chips, also Trader Joe’s is now selling 72% chips which are fabulous). If you want the caramelized white, use these dulcey feves.
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