Thanks to all who participated in my holiday cookie contest! I received many wonderful family recipes but, in the end, these Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Squares of Scottish origin won me over. Known as Millionaire’s Shortbread, presumably because they are so rich, they consist of a layer of crumbly shortbread, a layer of soft caramel and a layer of chocolate. To me, they taste just like gourmet Twix bars. Congrats to Carrie H. of Rockville, MD, who submitted the recipe!
Begin by making the shortbread layer. Simply combine all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
Blitz to blend, then add the butter in chunks.
Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, then add the ice water and egg yolk.
Pulse until the dough comes together in wet clumps.
Dump the dough into the prepared pan and press into an even layer.
Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, make the caramel by combining the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, butter, golden syrup, vanilla and salt in a medium sauce pan.
Cook until the caramel is smooth and thickened, and the temperature reaches 225 degrees.
Immediately pour the caramel over the crust and let set for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the chocolate glaze by combining the chocolate pieces and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl.
Cook in 20 second intervals, so as not to scorch the chocolate, stirring in between, until the chocolate is smooth and creamy. Spread the melted chocolate over the set caramel.
Chill the bars for about an hour, or until the chocolate is completely set.
Then lift the bars out of the pan and cut into small squares.
Note: You’ll need a candy thermometer for this recipe to measure the temperature of the caramel. You can find one at any kitchen supply store. Don’t be intimated to use it; it’s easy!
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For the Crust
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon ice water
- 1 large egg yolk
For the Caramel Layer
- 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup (such as Lyle's Golden Syrup) or dark corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Generous pinch salt
For the Chocolate Layer
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces, best quality
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
For the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, pushing the foil neatly into the corners and up the sides of the pan, using two pieces if necessary to ensure that the foil overlaps all edges (the overhang will help removal from the pan). Spray the foiled pan with nonstick cooking spray or grease with butter.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the flour, brown sugar, cornstarch and salt; process until well combined and no lumps of brown sugar remain. Add the butter and pulse until a coarse meal forms. Add the ice water and egg yolk and blend until moist clumps form. Dump the dough into the prepared pan and press with your fingers into an even layer (dust your fingers with flour if the dough is too sticky). Pierce the dough all over with a fork and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
For Caramel Layer
- Whisk the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, butter, golden syrup, vanilla and salt together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and boil gently, whisking constantly, until the caramel is thick and the temperature registers 225 degrees F, about 6 minutes. Pour the caramel over the warm crust; cool for about 15 minutes, or until caramel is set.
For Chocolate Layer
- Place the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is about 75% melted. Stir, allowing the residual heat in the bowl to melt the remaining chocolate, until smooth (if necessary, place the chocolate back in the microwave for a few more; just be sure not to overheat or the mixture will curdle). Spread the chocolate over the caramel layer. Refrigerate the bars until the chocolate is set, at least 1 hour. Using the foil overhang, lift the bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into small squares and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Note: The shortbread layer will crumble a bit when you cut it; that's just the nature of it.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: These can be frozen for up to 3 months. After they are completely cooled, double-wrap them securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.