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Contest Winner! Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Squares (a.k.a. Millionaire’s Shortbread)

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With a layer of shortbread, a layer of soft caramel and a layer of chocolate, these bars taste like gourmet Twix bars.

Stack of chocolate caramel shortbread squares (Millionaire's shortbread).

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!

Cookies on a raised platter.

Other cookies submitted were wonderful too, particularly Dianne’s Dark Chocolate Buttercrunch with Sea Salt and Amy’s Snickerdoodles. I’ll be sharing these recipes on the site soon. (2-Tier Server by Julia Knight)

What you’ll need to make the shortbread squares
Cookie ingredients including heavy cream, vanilla, and condensed milk.

How to make them

Begin by making the shortbread layer. Simply combine all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.

Dry ingredients in a food processor.

Blitz to blend, then add the butter in chunks.

Butter in a food processor with dry ingredients.

Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, then add the ice water and egg yolk.

Egg yolk in a food processor with a butter mixture.

Pulse until the dough comes together in wet clumps.

Wet clumps of dough in a food processor.

Dump the dough into the prepared pan and press into an even layer.

Dough clumps in a lined baking dish.

Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake until lightly browned.

Fork pricking a layer of smooth dough.

Meanwhile, make the caramel by combining the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, butter, golden syrup, vanilla and salt in a medium sauce pan.

Saucepan of unmixed caramel ingredients.

Cook until the caramel is smooth and thickened, and the temperature reaches 225 degrees.

Whisk in a saucepan of caramel.

Immediately pour the caramel over the crust and let set for about 15 minutes.

Layer of caramel in a lined baking dish.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate glaze by combining the chocolate pieces and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl.

Chocolate and cream in a 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.

Spoon spreading chocolate over caramel in a lined baking dish.

Chill the bars for about an hour, or until the chocolate is completely set.

Knife cutting chocolate caramel shortbread squares.

Then lift the bars out of the pan and cut into small squares.

Stack of chocolate caramel shortbread squares (Millionaire\'s shortbread).

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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Millionaire's Shortbread

With a layer of shortbread, a layer of soft caramel and a layer of chocolate, these bars taste like gourmet Twix bars.

Servings: 20-25 squares
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours


For the Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 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-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Note: The shortbread layer will crumble a bit when you cut it; that's just the nature of it.
  3. 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.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (25 servings)
  • Calories: 174
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Saturated fat: 5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23 g
  • Sugar: 17 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Sodium: 54 mg
  • Cholesterol: 27 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • This is an awful recipe. I usually find the recipes on this website easy to use and they come out great. Unfortunately, this recipe was missing some instructions it seems. When I made the caramel, it never got hard. I whisked while it came to a boil and kept whisking while it was boiling for an extra ten minutes, but nothing happened. The whole thing was ruined and it was a waste of my morning.

    • So sorry you had trouble, Melodi. Did you by chance make any substitutions? Or use evaporated milk instead of sweetened condensed milk?

  • These turned out beautifully but I’m glad I read other reviews and didn’t hold out for my caramel to reach 220 degrees. It probably would have burned like some of the others did, so I let it come to a boil for a good minute but the temperature never got above 180. I’m sure if I had used a heavier bottomed pot, my temperature could have reached a higher point without scorching, and yes, I had a brand new thermometer. Since I prefer to make my ganache on the stove over a double boiler, that’s what I did, but I reached for three more ounces of chocolate, doubled my cream and added some corn syrup for shine. Can’t wait to eat it—I use this web-site for a lot of my cooking and I adore Jenn’s Methods.

    • — Alison Fenton Borel
    • Reply
  • Question – I do not have a food processor. Do I dare try to make these cookies?

    • Sure, I think they should work. You could use your fingers to combine the ingredients for the crust. Hope you enjoy!

  • Boo!
    While trying to get the caramel mixture to the elusive 225 degrees (about 8-10 min), it turned to candy and went solid. (I kept thinking it was gonna happen, but pushed to get to the temperature) Isn’t there a better way to know when the caramel is ready?

    • Sorry to hear you had a problem with this Daniel! If the caramel hardened, it sounds like the temperature got too high (even if it didn’t read that way on your thermometer). It may be time to replace your candy thermometer.

  • How to cut through millionaire shortbread to stop caramel pushing out .

    • You can pop them in the freezer for a bit to get them really cold (but not quite frozen) – that should help.

  • I assumed that the temperature for the caramel was for sea-level. Because I live at 4,700′, I cooked it to 217 degrees. It was still chewy and too hard 🙁 The first batch of caramel also had burned chunks, despite stirring my guts out the whole time. All in all, it still wasn’t super tasty and it was a lot of effort. Won’t make these again.

  • Tried these millionaire bars…it was amazing…best ever bars i must say…thx for recipe

  • What size saucepan is needed for the caramel layer? It looks as if it bubbles up a lot. Is a non-stick pan o.k.?

    Not rating because I haven’t made them yet.

    • — Vicki Frederick
    • Reply
    • Hi Vicki, You should be fine with a medium-sized sauce pan. You could use non-stick but if you do, don’t use a metal whisk to combine the ingredients. Use a tool that is appropriate for a non-stick surface and combine thoroughly. Hope you enjoy!

  • Absolutely fabulous! Rich chocolate, caramel and a shortbread crust! Great with coffee. This is a real winner in any contest!I have loved all the recipes I have tried. Thank you for such a quality site

  • Also, you do not chill them. They are eaten at room temperature.

  • I grew up on these things in the west coast of Scotland. A few observations. The shortbread recipe is not the original. Shortbread has only butter, sugar, and flour. No self respecting Scot is adding ground almonds. The caramel part is good. The chocolate should be a good quality one. Most of the people where I lived melted Cadbury’s milk chocolate bars. Overall this is a decent version, if not absolutely authentic. Also the reason they are called “millionaires shortbread” is not because they taste “rich” it is because for the average family these were a once in a while treat. Plain shortbread is cheap, just flour sugar and butter. Only rich people could afford the added ingredients

  • Jenn, I couldn’t find the link for:
    Dianne’s Dark Chocolate Buttercrunch with Sea Salt you reference. Can you please provide it?

    • Hi Donna, You can find it here.

  • These didn’t turn out as well as I was hoping. I wasn’t able to achieve the nice clear layers, and the caramel was a little squishy. They still tasted yummy though!

    • — Nicole Rodriguez
    • Reply
  • These were great. For me, there needed to be more chocolate to balance the caramel. I could hardly taste the chocolate in comparison. But, still, it was easy and very good. Unfortunately, I didn’t win the recipe contest, though. Lol

  • Sorry my dear, but what you have here is a ‘cookie’ crust. True shortbread is 3 ingredients – flour, sugar, butter, period. If you are adding brown sugar and eggs or yolk, it is no longer shortbread. True ‘Millionaire’s Shortbread’ calls for a shortbread crust, not a cookie crust. 1 star for a misleading name.

    • Not misleading at all! Millionaires can afford more ingredients!😂. Delicious!

      • — Dana Elizabeth
      • Reply
  • Fabulous! Second time making this month. Thank you.

  • Not a millionaires best in my book. Just didn’t meet my expectations.

  • I have a family member who is corn sensitive – could arrowroot be substituted for cornstarch. (I know Lyle’s Golden syrup is corn free)/

    • Actually Anne, You can just leave the cornstarch out and add 2 more tsp. of flour to the crust mixture.

  • I am looking forward to making this in the next couple of days…Would I be able to use an 8″ square pan instead of 9″? If so, would I need to adjust amount of time for cooking? Thanks.

    • — Wendy G Schoenburg
    • Reply
    • Hi Wendy, Sure, you can use an 8-inch pan. You may need to add another minute or two to the baking time for each layer, but just keep an eye on it. Enjoy

  • This recipe is brilliant, thank you Carrie H! Thanks so much for sharing, Jenn! Your blog is amazing – if you ever decided to publish your own cookbook, I´ll be happy to buy!

  • This recipe is a HUGE hit with my friends and family. I was wondering if I could substitute the crust from your Pecan Shortbread Squares because I like the flavor and texture more. Would changing it ruin the Millionaire’s Shortbread?

    • Yes Jill, I think that should work!

      • Thanks so much, Jenn! I just made them with your Pecan Shortbread Squares shortbread and they are so good! My daughter and her two friends might devour the whole pan before my husband gets home. I’ll hide some for him. Thanks again!

  • These were good and easy to follow recipe. The base cookie is a little too soft for our tastes.

  • This recipe has the right idea, but it is not made the right way. The crust is not good at all, it lacks flavor for having so much butter. Next time I will use my favorite short bread recipe for the crust. The caramel layer is WAY too sweet! It is not necessary to use syrup, condensed milk and sugar. I am going to make these again but using my own caramel recipe as well. Good idea, bad recipe!

    • I used my usual shortbread recipe also, and followed the rest of the recipe for the caramel and topping ?

    • I’m from Scotland and this IS the original Scottish recipe I’ve seen used for years. I’m also a chef and culinary instructor and this is also the recipe used at the school. You may change it but I don’t think you can improve it, well, maybe to your taste.

      • Do the bars have to be refrigerated or can they sit out on the table all day or over a weekend, or even outside at a picnic all day, for people to snack on them throughout the weekend.

      • Seriously – this info from a Scot? This is NOT the original Scottish recipe. True shortbread has 3 ingredients – flour, butter, sugar. This is the only ‘Millionaire’s Shortbread’ recipe I have ever seen that calls for a ‘cookie’ crust. This is not traditional ‘Millionaire’s Shortbread’, because it is not made with traditional shortbread. Plenty of authentic recipes for both online. Try a few, it’s a delicious bar when made correctly – no improvements necessary.

        • Thank you Jenn for offering new twists on old standbys! If we only stick to traditions there would be no need for food blogs.

          • — Dana Elizabeth
          • Reply
  • I made these today. They are excellent. I could only find 12 oz cans condensed milk. I used that instead of the 14 oz can the recipe calls for.

  • The cans of condensed milk I purchased are all 12oz (not 14). Is there an easy substitute to make up the 2 ounces? Also, I found the heavy cream was used for whipping cream over the holidays. Can one substitute half and half for heavy cream as the amount is so small?

    • Hi Elizabeth, I think you could use 2 ounces of heavy cream or half and half if you don’t want to open another can of condensed milk. But for the chocolate I would definitely stick with the heavy cream.

  • I had these bars while visiting the UK, so delicious! Does the caramel layer melt at room temperature? I want to bring them to a party but I don’t want them to become a gooey mess while people mingle.

    • Hi Courtney, No, the caramel layer should not melt if kept at room temperature. I hope you enjoy them!

      • Buy some paper cases to present them, that way they look good. And no mess!

  • These sound great, and I’m looking forward to trying them. Can you please tell me the pan size, oven temp, and length of time for baking the shortbread layer?

    • Hi Grace, the pan should be a 9 inch square, the oven temp should be 350 degrees and the dough should bake for about 20 minutes (until golden). Enjoy!

  • How far ahead of a party can you make
    Millionaire’s shortbread?
    Can it be frozen successfully?

    • — Linda Pecoraro
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, I would say a day or two ahead of time is fine. I do think you could freeze them, just be sure to thaw in the fridge to avoid condensation.

  • How could I make a double batch of this cookie, what size pan should I use.

    • Hi Gwen, There’s no perfect size so I would use two 9-inch pans.

  • These are amazing. They are the perfect combination of all the things we love. My kids went crazy for them. Thanks for sharing!!

    • — Trish Sullivan
    • Reply
  • After trying these for the first time in a recent trip to the UK, I had to find a recipe that I thought I could handle (since I don’t consider myself a baker). This was just the ticket!
    I didn’t have to “translate” British measurements or ingredients and it came out just great! Everyone wants more!!!
    Thank you!!!

  • These are delicious! One of my favorites to take to a party.

  • I am not familiar with 2 of the ingredients,- cornstarch, is this the same as cornflour? And heavy cream, do I use double cream here ? You use cups and ounces…is 1 cup of flour – 4 oz? I have an Australian cheesecake book where a table of ingredients and cups are listed. So 1 cup of lightly packed brown sugar is 6oz, making a 1/4 cup 1 1/2 oz. 1 stick of butter -4 oz ? Yes ?

  • How much is a cup of flour

    • How many grams of flour

      • Hi Marie, One cup of flour is equal to 128 grams.

  • Hi! I just want to ask if it’s ok not to put cornstarch in the crust mixture and corn syrup in the caramel sauce? Thank you so much! I love your recipe!

    • Hi Arjo, It’s okay to replace the cornstarch in the crust with flour, but the corn syrup is necessary in the caramel layer. However, there are other ways of making the caramel layer, such as melting down caramel squares with some heavy cream. In a small saucepan, melt 2 cups caramel squares with 3 tablespoons cream over low heat. Pour the caramel over the cooled crust and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill and firm up.

  • After living in the UK for numerous years and discovering these lovely bars, had to learn to make them.
    In Canada we have Eagle brand Dulce de Leche Caramel Flavoured Sauce. Whip open a can of that, warm it up for about 5 mins and put that on the shortbread crust, no other ingredient required. I guess this would work for any Dulce de Leche type of sauce. Same effect and a bit less work and time.
    I also put them in the fridge to cool them before putting chocolate topping on, as soon as you put chocolate on top it will cool immediately, score the top at this time, as it will keep the chocolate from cracking when you cut it.

  • İ live in turkey and we do not have condensed milk, can i use something else as a substitiute

    • — christine yegin
    • Reply
  • I have heard great reviews on these. Can they be frozen?

    • — Mary Berchtold
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, Yes, they freeze well.

  • I like to make ahead and freeze Christmas cookies/bars. Do you know if these can be frozen and retain all its goodness?

    • Hi Cheryl, Yes, these should be just fine to freeze. Hope you enjoy!

  • I wanted to make this as an additional dessert for Thanksgiving, but with some serious competition of other foods that need to be cooked in the oven, I was wondering if this can be made 2 days in advance. If yes, How should it be stored? When should it be cut. Thanks!!

    • Hi Sandi, Yes, they can definitely be made a few days ahead and stored in an airtight container.

  • I give this recipe is fabulous!!!! I made it with almond butter and my friends enjoyed eating them.
    Thank you Ms Jenn for this delicious recipe.

  • Do leftovers need to be refrigerated?

    • Hi Missy, No it’s not necessary to refrigerate them.

  • I made this recipe the first time and it turned out PERFECT. However, the second and third time.. the chocolate topping ALWAYS curdled and turned rough and grainy and oily. I wasted so many (expensive) dark chocolate bars over this. I don’t know why! I have no idea how it worked the first time.. I did it the exact same way. I give up.. I’m going to make a regular chocolate topping with a tablespoon of butter next time.

    • My guess is that you overheated the chocolate. Try shorter intervals and pull it out when it’s about 75% melted; if you stir the mixture, the residual heat will melt the chocolate completely.

  • I made these today and they are excellent. The recipe is very easy to follow, especially with photos. I substituted milk chocolate and they are yummy!

  • Yummy cookies. It’s a keeper – I would make them again.

  • Just made these. Will take them to our daughter’s tomorrow. I’m being very good and not stealing a bite!! Can’t wait until tomorrow.

  • I was skeptical because I never used a candy thermometer before. I had a little trouble with the caramel burning I think I needed a heavier pan? Anyway, made a double batch and everyone loved it!!! Cam right off the tin foil!

  • You had me at gourmet Twix bars. Yum! Can’t wait to try them. Thanks!

  • I didn’t want to touch this recipe because it looked very complicated. But when I read the description that it is like a gourmet twix bar I decided I have to try. 😉

  • Awesome! Anxiously waiting for the recipe for Amy’s Snickerdoodles! 🙂 Hopefully before cmas

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