Filed under: Chocolate Chip / Holiday
December 16, 2020

Chocolate Chip Caramel Shortbread

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!

4.94 from 15 votes
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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 Shortbread Recipes

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. 



Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread 

 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.

How to make the salted chocolate chunk shortbread layer 

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. 


Salted Caramel from Sweetened Condensed Milk

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).


How to make caramel out of sweetened condensed milk 

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. 



Marbled Chocolate Topping 

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. 


How to make the marbled chocolate topping 

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. 


Ingredients & Substitutions for Sam’s Millionaire Bars

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.

Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Shortbread

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! 
4.94 from 15 votes


Chocolate Chip Shortbread

  • ½ cup or 113g butter salted and softened
  • ¼ cup or 50g brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 cup or 120g all purpose flour 125g
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips or finely chopped dark chocolate

Salted Caramel Layer

  • 1 can or 396g sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup or 57g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Lyle's Golden syrup or corn syrup
  • 1 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping

  • 226g oz chocolate, chopped mix of dark, white, and milk or dulcey feves
  • Edible glitter if desired


  • Make the chocolate chip shortbread layer: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of an 8” square pan with parchment paper. With a hand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, salt and vanilla until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and flour and beat to just combine. Fold in the chocolate chips. Press the dough into the pan in a a flat layer. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown on the edges.
  • While the shortbread bakes, make the caramel: combine sweetened condensed milk, butter and syrup into a pot. Cook on low medium heat, stirring constantly so as not to scorch the milk. Once the temperature reaches 220-225 F is thick and the color of butterscotch, turn off the heat and add the sea salt and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  • If the shortbread still hasn’t finished baking, keep the caramel over very low heat, to just keep it warm. Once the shortbread is done, remove from the oven and pour the caramel over it. Smooth into one even layer. Set aside to cool completely.
  • From each bowl of chocolate, set aside 1/4 of the amount to be your ‘seed’. Melt the chocolate(s) in the microwave in 30 second increments, Stirring between, until the chocolate is mostly melted but not fully. Add the seed you’ve set aside and stir until chocolate is smooth. Pour the dark chocolate over the now cool caramel and smooth into one layer. If you are using white and milk, alternate spooning them over the dark chocolate. Use a butter knife to swirl them. Top with edible glitter if desired.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. Hi! Do these freeze well? Looking to make a batch (or two) to prep for holiday treat box season, but wasn’t sure if this was the kind of thing that should be made fresh. Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    These turned out so good! And that’s even after I messed up on the corn syrup [didn’t have enough, so I subbed in an inexact amount of honey for the remainder]. I melted pb chips and swirled them in w/ the chocolate on top. Delicious!

  3. Hi! I’m so excited to try these but now I’m wondering if I have the correct chocolate. When you say ‘dark’, do you mean semi-sweet, bittersweet or unsweetened? And also, what’s the best way to store these? Thanks so much!

  4. The shortbread came out beautifully but the caramel is really hard to make! I put it a little below medium but it still came out too thick and sticky, not pourable. I assume the heat was too much. Could you share other indicators to go off of to figure out the right heat so we don’t overcook it?

  5. 5 stars
    These are showstoppers! Perfect for holiday cookies boxes – all my friends commented on how good they looked AND tasted. Tempering chocolate always sounded so daunting to me, but Sam made it simple. I was skeptical that the seed chocolate would melt all the way, but it worked perfectly with her microwave method.

  6. 5 stars
    Just tried these to add to my cookie boxes. Was fun to try a different shortbread. Familiar with this style of caramel as it’s similar to what I do for my wrapped caramels. Beautiful together and the swirl is nice fun

  7. 5 stars
    These bars are incredible! The caramel and dark chocolate balance out so well and the sea salt keeps it from being too sweet. I had little experience with making caramel and tempered chocolate but the instructions were easy to follow and it turned out perfectly. Also, I substituted maple syrup for corn syrup and the caramel set very well. Will definitely be making these again!

  8. I’m a little confused about the “seed” part. Are we supposed to set aside the unmelted chocolate and mix it in with the melted? Is that what you mean by “seed”? I’ve just never heard that term in baking and one part of your instructions say to melt the seed chocolate in 15 second increments while the other instructions say set it aside and mix it in with the other melted chocolate. Maybe it’s just me who finds that confusing..just want to make sure I’m doing it right.

    • Hi Angie, so the seed (the 1/4 cup) is what you set aside and you don’t melt it in the microwave. After the chocolate is mostly melted from the microwave (or double boiler, however you choose to melt) you’ll add the seed. The idea is to keep some chocolate aside to add after you’ve melted most of it, so that it can help even out the temperature. If it helps here’s a KAF article on ‘how to temper chocolate’ that might be clearer.

  9. Another great recipe. Easy but impressive. TRYING to save some for cookie boxes. Thank you for your continuous easy instructions and delicious recipes.

  10. Hello! I absolutely want to try this recipe but I’ve made a caramel before using condensed milk and it actually set solid ? I couldn’t even smash it up do you think I boiled for too long? Any tips would very much appreciated xx

    • Hi Alison! If it set too solid then yes, it may have been overcooked… I also wonder about the other ingredients in there (if there was enough liquid). For this caramel the most important thing is to stir stir stir, and dont’ cook it on too high heat too quickly as it can scorch. You got this!

  11. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! The best caramel shortbread I’ve ever had – always find others are too sweet but this one is perfectly sweet and salty and the dark chocolate really makes it a treat!

  12. These are delectable! I let it set in the fridge to cool the caramel faster and also when I put chocolate on, so when I cut them the chocolate cracked. Should I have let the chocolate set without refrigerating to make smoother cuts?

    • Hmm, I think it’d be fine in the fridge for a bit (not more than 10 minutes – just to set it) but if the chocolate gets really cold then yeah it will crack. On the site there’s a chocolate ice cream pie and I had frozen the chocolate right before I cut it – the top totally shattered!

  13. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe! I tried Sam’s brownie shortbread with avocado oil before & that was a hit too! Thinking about trying to combine the chocolate chip shortbread with the brownie and then add the caramel for ultimate indulgence.

  14. 5 stars
    I made these vegan with sweetened condensed soy milk, earth balance, and dark chocolate. They are absolutely amazing and were so impressive! The top tempered perfectly too which I was worried about.

  15. This recipe looks insane, and I love that it’s not too sweet!! I’m planning to make it soon but first just wanted to say that I really appreciate how you always credit your recipe inspirations and adaptations, especially since so many bloggers/Instagrammers nowadays don’t 🙂

  16. 5 stars
    Just made these for a small family Christmas celebration and they were a hit! Even those that typically stay away from desserts enjoyed them! The little bit of Maldon sea salt was perfect!! Effortless, but looks elegant!