Millionaire Bars with Shortbread
Shortbread, caramel and chocolate come together to create the most delicious dessert. Millionaire bars taste like Twix bars, but even better because they are homemade! You will love how easy and delicious this recipe is.
You can expect layers of flavor and texture in these millionaire shortbread bars. The gooey salted caramel tastes amazing against the dark chocolate ganache. Your tastebuds will be so satisfied! This Scottish dessert is extremely rich, hence the name reference to millionaires 😉
Why this recipe works
The shortbread is sturdy, but with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The caramel is made from scratch and sets up perfectly for the chocolate ganache coating. These millionaire bars are made in a 9×13 pan, which makes them perfect for sharing at Christmas and Easter, but you can make them for just about any occasion! They will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks or in the freezer for a few months.
- Butter: Make sure your butter is room temperature for the shortbread crust. It makes all the difference in texture.
- Sweetened condensed milk: Two 14 oz cans are used to make the homemade caramel layer. I use the Eagle brand, which can be found in most grocery stores.
- Light corn syrup: To make a gooey caramel that sets up properly, I suggest using light corn syrup.
- Bittersweet chocolate chips: Use good quality chocolate. It melts more easily and tastes better!
- Heavy cream: Full-fat heavy cream is needed for the chocolate ganache layer.
To make a smaller batch, cut the recipe in half and make it in an 8×8 square baking pan. Shortbread crust will be done baking between 15 and 20 minutes.
The crust is versatile. Try adding 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans or hazelnuts to the dough for a nutty flavor. You can also use brown sugar instead of regular sugar like I do in my maple pecan bars.
Alternatively, you can make a cookie crust using Oreos, biscoff or digestive cookies. Crush up the cookies into fine crumbs until you have 3 cups. Add 1/2 cup melted butter and press mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes.
Try different types of chocolate on top of the caramel squares. I prefer bittersweet dark chocolate, but you can also use milk chocolate or white chocolate. If you’re having trouble melting chocolate, check out my tips for melting chocolate. It’s super helpful!
How to make millionaire bars
- Make the shortbread crust: beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla, then mix until combined. With the mixer on low, add half the flour, then the salt. Mix in remaining flour (it may be crumbly and that’s okay).
- Transfer dough to prepared 9×13 pan and press into an even layer. Bake at 350° F for 20 to 25 minutes. Let the crust cool completely.
- Make the caramel sauce: Add sweetened condensed milk, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt to a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until smooth and mixture begins to boil, about 5 minutes. Lower temperature and continue cooking the caramel until darker in color. Stir constantly so it doesn’t burn. The sauce will pull away from the sides of the pan when it’s done.
- Pour caramel over shortbread crust. Spread evenly with an offset spatula, then let the caramel cool completely.
- Make the ganache: Heat chocolate chips and heavy cream in a bowl in the microwave. Use 50% power level and stop to stir every 30 seconds until chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove bowl from the microwave, then stir until smooth.
- Spread chocolate over cooled caramel layer. Let the ganache cool for a few minutes before sprinkling on sea salt. Cool completely before cutting and serving.
Line your baking dish with parchment paper (let it hang over the sides). Not only does it make clean up a lot easier, but it also allows you to lift the bars out of the pan.
Weigh your ingredients. Accurate measuring is vital for successful baked goods. If you don’t have a scale, be sure to spoon your flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife. Too much flour will make for a dry and crumbly shortbread crust.
Stir the caramel constantly so it doesn’t burn. You have to keep a close eye on it to make sure it achieves the right consistency and temperature. I suggest using a candy thermometer.
Let each layer cool and set before adding the next. If the caramel is still warm, then the chocolate ganache will melt into it and you won’t have even layers. The chocolate also needs time to cool and set before cutting otherwise you’ll have a gooey mess!
Frequently Asked Questions
It wasn’t heated long enough to reach 225 F. This can cause the sauce to be too thin and not thicken as it cools.
Yes, after the bars have completely cooled and are set, either wrap the entire bar or individual bars in plastic wrap. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and serving.
Make sure the bars are room temperature so the chocolate doesn’t crack. Press a clean sharp knife firmly down where you’d like to make a cut, then pull the knife through. Clean the knife again before the next cut. Do not use a serrated knife or sawing motion.
Dessert bars are the best! Here are a few of my favorites that I’m sure you will love too.
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Millionaire Bars with Shortbread
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅔ cup (133 g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ¼ cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
- 3 cups (two 14 ounce cans or 792 g) sweetened condensed milk
- 10 Tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 cup (200 g) packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (60 ml) light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (340 g) bittersweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- sea salt for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350° F and line a 13×9 baking pan with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Scrape down the bottoms and sides of the bowl as necessary.
- With the mixer on low, add half the flour, then sprinkle in the salt. Mix in remaining flour. Don’t overmix the dough (it may be crumbly and that’s okay).
- Transfer dough to prepared pan. Use your hands to gently press dough into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
- Bake at 350° F for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let crust cool while you make the caramel filling.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add sweetened condensed milk, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir frequently until butter melts, then continue stirring until mixture begins to boil, about 5 more minutes (do not increase temperature).
- Reduce the temperature to low and continue stirring until mixture turns a rich dark color and the caramel starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 5 to 10 more minutes. If you have a candy thermometer, it should read 225° F and no hotter than 240° F.
- Pour caramel over shortbread crust. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Let the caramel cool completely, about 5 hours at room temperature or 1 hour in the refrigerator.
- In a small bowl, add chocolate chips and heavy cream. Heat in the microwave on 50% power level, stopping to stir every 30 seconds until chocolate is almost completely melted and heavy cream is hot. Remove bowl from the microwave, then stir until smooth.
- Pour chocolate over caramel layer and spread into an even layer. Let is sit for about 5 minutes before sprinkling with sea salt.
- Let chocolate harden, about 30 minutes in the refrigerator, before cutting with a sharp knife and serving.