Chocolate and caramel dress up this humble dessert
Shortbread is a simple, understated confection of the most basic ingredients. But dressed up in chocolate and caramel, it reaches a level of decadence and flash deserving of the name “Millionaire’s Shortbread.”
The caramel shortbread bar appears in the Australian Women’s Weekly at the beginning of the 1970s, though the name seems to have originated in Scotland, according to food writers and historians.
Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) cold unsalted butter cut into ½ inch cubes
1 tablespoon ice water
1 large egg yolk
For the caramel layer:
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup (dark corn syrup can be substituted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
For the chocolate layer:
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate broken into small pieces
3 tablespoons heavy cream
For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch square pan with greased foil. Process the flour, brown sugar, cornstarch and salt until there are no lumps of sugar. Add butter and pulse until coarse meal forms. Add ice water and egg yolk and blend until moist clumps form. Use your fingers to press into pan to form an even layer. Pierce with a fork several times and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
For the caramel layer: Whisk the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, butter, golden syrup, vanilla extract and salt together in a sauce pan over medium meat until sugar dissolves, the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil. Attach a candy thermometer and boil mixture gently, until the caramel is thickened and the temperature registers 225 F, about 6 minutes. Pour over the cooled crust, cool until set, about 15-20 minutes.
For the chocolate layer: Place the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is about 75 percent melted. Stir, allowing the residual heat to finish melting the chocolate. Be careful not to overheat, or the mixture will curdle. Spread chocolate over the caramel layer. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour. Using the foil overlap, lift the bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Note: The shortbread layer will crumble a bit when cut.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.