This Millionaire’s Shortbread is the perfect trifecta: Sweet simple, crisp shortbread, rich chewy, homemade caramel, and thick dark chocolate ganache. Sprinkle everything off with a scattering of sea salt and you have a decadently rich treat that lives up to every penny of its lucrative name.
I don’t think (and I’m sure they’ll correct me if I’m wrong) I’ve ever given my siblings anything really bad to eat.
Sometimes they eat my recipe fails, but only the most edible ones (cupcakes that are just slightly too dense, cookies that are a tad too crumbly), and I never did anything as treacherous as trying to pass off bean brownies for regular brownies, which one of my sisters actually did do to me one time (a deception I’ll never forgive).
So it’s slightly insulting to me that, when presented with any dessert that isn’t an obvious cake, cookie, or cupcake, they proceed with severe trepidation. Forks hovering nervously over their plates, eyes narrowed, skeptical, seeming to suggest — It could be an anthrax pie, how can we be sure it’s not? So much for gratitude.
But after explaining for the fourth time to my fourth sibling what Millionaire’s shortbread even is (“It’s like a fancy, homemade, gourmet twix bar”) not a single one seemed the least bit disappointed when they took their first bite.
There’s nothing to be disappointed about when it comes to Millionaire’s shortbread. This is a recipe I’ve been wanting to try my hand at for a while now and after a lot of running around in the kitchen I’m very happy to share it with you.
I don’t think I need to reiterate the fact that it’s a rich dessert — in fact I suggested to my sisters and brother that they cut each giant square into quarters, because while big squares look pretty in these pictures, they’re so rich that it’s a challenge to actually eat a whole one.
The shortbread (a faux shortbread, more on that below) is slightly sweetened but serves as the crispy vehicle to transport chewy caramel and a blanket of chocolate ganache. To make things even more decadent, it’s all topped off with a sprinkle of sea salt. It’s not called Millionaire’s shortbread for nothing!
As attaining millionaire status can change a person, so it has changed our “shortbread” cookie crust here. Surprise, it’s not a “true” shortbread. When I decided to give this classic recipe my own spin, this is one of the first changes I made.
Classic shortbread is made of only three ingredients — butter, flour, and sugar, but this is Millionaire’s shortbread so we’re making sure it lives up to its name.
An egg yolk, some brown sugar, and vanilla extract all make this cookie crust extra flavorful, and slightly softer than standard shortbread as well. Because of the added ingredients, your finished millionaire’s shortbread will cut more easily than standard shortbread (which usually breaks unevenly with jagged edges and scatters crumbs everywhere) but is still crisp and snappy beneath the soft chocolate and chewy caramel.
Andi liked the cookie layer so much she asked me to make her a pan of just that alone, nothing else.
I really wish that I could photograph the processes for these multi-step recipes — a picture of how the crumbled cookie dough should look, the caramel at its peak just before pouring it over the shortbread, the glossy chocolate ganache, etc… but since I only have two days of the week to shoot 3-4 recipes, I usually have to prepare the food Friday night, and there’s no light to take decent pictures then.
To make up for this, I try to include very detailed descriptions in the recipe, and you can always shoot me an e-mail, leave a comment, or drop by my Facebook page if you have any questions.
That being said, I don’t really think you’ll have any problem with this recipe, the trickiest part is the caramel and it doesn’t even require a candy thermometer!
I hope you enjoy this Millionaire’s shortbread as much as my siblings ultimately did!
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (226g)
- ⅓ cup sugar (70g)
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed (70g)
- 1 large egg yolk
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (260g)
- 2 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk (792g)
- 14 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into Tablespoon-sized pieces (198g)
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed (200g)
- ⅓ cup light corn syrup (80ml)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (340g)
- ½ cup heavy cream (120ml)
- sea salt for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350F (177C) and line a 13x9 baking pan with parchment paper.
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter until well creamed.
- Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds.
- Add egg yolk and vanilla extract and stir well, pausing to scrape down the sides and mixing until ingredients are well-combined.
- Add flour, gradually (about ½ cup at a time), pausing to scrape down sides of bowl. Halfway through the addition of the flour, sprinkle in the salt with the beater still running. Don't over-beat the dough, you want it to be slightly crumbly to make it easier to press into the pan.
- Drop dough over prepared pan and gently, firmly, evenly, press dough into the bottom of the pan. To make it easier, I usually lay a piece of wax paper over the dough and use the palm of my hand to smooth the surface (and then discard wax paper).
- Bake on 350F (177C) for 20-25 minutes -- edges should be lightly golden brown.
- Allow to cool while you prepare your caramel topping.
- Combine condensed milk, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir frequently until butter is melted and ingredients are well-combined. Continue to stir constantly until mixture begins to boil (this could take several minutes, but you don't need to increase the heat).
- Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer (slowly bubbling), still stirring constantly. Continue to stir 10-15 minutes until mixture turns a rich caramel color and has thickened (should begin pulling away from the sides of the pot as you stir). If using a candy thermometer, the caramel should reach 225F (107C)
- Remove from heat and immediately stir in the vanilla extract.
- Pour evenly over prepared shortbread, use a knife to spread evenly if needed.
- Allow to cool at room temperature for several hours or in the refrigerator for 1 hour before topping with chocolate.
- Combine chocolate chips and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
- Stir frequently until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
- Remove from heat and allow chocolate to cool just slightly for about 5 minutes, and then evenly spread over prepared caramel layer. Wait several minutes/until chocolate begins to set and then sprinkle with sea salt.
- Allow chocolate to harden (I recommend placing in refrigerator for about 30 minutes -- my family prefers these treats refrigerated anyway) before cutting and serving.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
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I made this for the first time about a week ago and have made it twice since as gifts. The people, what can I say, they love it. I had zero difficulties with the precise, easy to follow instructions for the shortbread and caramel. I did use microwave ganache (easily found on internet) to save time as I was making several other items at once for gift platters. Thanks for a phenomenal recipe!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
What a lovely gift, Kobie! Thanks so much for using our recipe ❤️
I struggled with the caramel portion. I stirred for quite a while on Medium and it never boiled. I decided to lower the heat and has been stirring for 40 mins in total now and it is still very loose with chunks in the mixture. Not sure if that is what it is supposed to look like. Any tips would be wonderful
Hmmm that is very odd. Was there an issue with your condensed milk maybe? I do plan on adding a video for this soon to hopefully help. 🙂
Just made this tonight, and absolutely love it! How long does this last if stored in the fridge?
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Rebecca! It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but should last about 5 days. You can store it in an air tight container at room temperature. 🙂
This recipe looks delicious! A quick question, though. Does the shortbread dough freeze well?
Hi Sarah! I haven’t frozen the dough before but I think it would be fine, the crust also freezes well after baking 🙂
I’ve never used parchment paper, is that necessary? Do you spray the pan with Pam either way? Also can I use a glass rectangular? Thanks!
Hi Cathy! The parchment paper helps with clean up and you can lift them out much more easily. You don’t have to use it, a baking spray will work just fine. A glass rectangular dish will also work, your bake time may just vary slightly. 🙂
Thank you for this gorgeous recipe. It was flawless and loved by all!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy it was a hit for you, Andrea!
I am an absolute amateur baker, I’m 50 but I only started baking brownies, chocolate cakes, cheese cakes and some simple breads about a year ago. So, on youtube a video on Millionaire’s Shortbread popped by, and I thought that this looks really good. Let’s google it to find a good recipe, and ultimately it brought me here. So, I baked it yesterday. I’m very meticolous when it comes to baking, so this took me a good 2 hours and 20 minutes + 1 hour waiting for the caramel to cool enough for the chocolate ganache.
Now, I’m in Norway, so a couple of items in the recipe are uncommon here, like for example light corn syrup, I substituted it with liquid glucose at 1:1 ratio, and for light brown sugar I used Demerara sugar which has a light brown hue. The result was pretty darn amazing, very happy with how it turned out.
Ahhh! The look and description of these is calling my name! I can’t eat chocolate though and am hard at work thinking of a peanut butter “ganache” layer to replace it. Perhaps an undercooked peanut butter fudge?
Hmmm I will think on this. The peanut butter topping sounds decadent, but may end up being really rich with the caramel. Let me know if you figure something out. 🙂
I love caramel and peanut butter flavors together (like the inside of many chocolate bars) and ganache is pretty rich, too, so I don’t think it would be too over the top. I’ll have to think about it, too. I don’t think I would make as thick a layer of peanut butter topping though. I make a peanut butter oatmeal topping for ice cream. I might experiment with that to see if I can get it to “set” so it will be the right texture. Thanks for your reply. 🙂
How would these turn out using Nielsen Massey Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extract? I had tried using this brand vanilla in my chocolate chip cookies and the vanilla flavor seemed too strong. Thanks!
Hi Cathy! It’s not necessarily stronger in flavor. It just has a slightly different flavor profile, but it should work here as long as you like the taste. 🙂
I’m wondering if Crisco buttered flavour can be used as a substitute for butter in the crust? Also for your pecan pie squares recipe crust? Butter is so expensive here nowadays 😩
Hi Jody! I’ve never used it, but I think it could probably work.
I don’t have chocolate chips on hand but i have semi sweet chocolate chunks on hand. Can i use those? Also does the cream have to be shaken first before using it?
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
The chunks will work just fine and it certainly doesn’t hurt to give cream a shake before adding it. We hope you love them, Rachel! ☺️
Can caramel squares, like the ones you ment down to make caramel apples, be used instead of making it from scratch?
Hi Ed! It may work, but honestly I haven’t tried it to know for sure how it would go. Let me know how it goes if you do try it. 🙂
Alas, good, not great. The cookie itself is lovely, but the caramel layer could probably be halved to get the ideal ratio. The ganache was also out-of-control soft — got all over your hands, even out of the fridge or freezer. I wouldn’t recommend a cream ganache for something like this in the future.
Made these and everyone loved them! Do you know if they freeze well?
Hi Sara! I haven’t tried freezing it, but I don’t think you’ll have any issues doing so. 🙂
Can you please confirm the recipe calls for 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk? Thank you.
Hi Annette! You will need 2, 14 oz cans of sweetened condensed milk here. 🙂
Thank you for the confirmation! I will use your caramel recipe next time. I used a different caramel recipe because I needed to get these done. The cut was very clean. I love the ganache layer as opposed to the stress of tempering plain chocolate. Absolutely fantastic. Once per month, I take Cookie of the Month to work. These are going to be a hit. Great recipe!
Ahh, so disappointed with my absolute fail with this recipe. I’m not a candy maker but followed the directions exactly, except I cooked the caramel 10-12 extra minutes trying to get a caramel color and for the mixture to pull away from the sides of the pot like the recipe says. Big mistake. The result was caramel so stiff I could not cut the finished product into squares!
I guess I should have just took the sauce off the heat at 15 and used it but it was so pale & not as thick as I thought it needed to be.
Couldn’t serve them to anyone!
I hope this helps someone out there not make my mistake & overcook the caramel!
O no! I’m so sorry this happened, Rebecca! The extra cook time is the culprit for the hard caramel. 🙁