Friday, April 17, 2009

Millionaire Shortbread Bars

For Kat's birthday last week, I made a batch of these caramel-y, chocolate-y cookie bars and brought them into the office. They were such a huge hit that I made a another batch for happy hour at a pub the next night. By the end of the evening, the whole box was demolished. They were rich, sticky, and crumbly - a perfect late night snack.

I found the recipe on the Joy of Baking website, but these are a classic recipe you can find in just about any cookbook.

Millionaire Shortbread Bars


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

Caramel Filling:
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Chocolate Topping:
6 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Grease a 9 x 9 inch pan with butter or cooking spray.

In an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and beat until the dough just comes together. Press onto the bottom of your greased pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pale golden in color. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the caramel.

Caramel Filling:
On the stove top: Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cover and cook, over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 60 to 90 minutes or until the milk has thickened and has turned a caramel color. Remove from heat and beat until smooth.

Or in your microwave: Place the sweetened condensed milk in a large microwaveable bowl and cook on medium power for about 4 minutes, stirring halfway through. Reduce the powder to medium-low and continue to cook for another 8 to 12 minutes, or until the milk has thicken and has turned a light caramel color. Make sure to watch carefully and stir often - the sugar has a tendency to boil over and burn. Remove from microwave and beat until smooth.

Pour the caramel over the baked shortbread and let cool.

Chocolate Topping:
Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Pour the melted chocolate evenly over the caramel and let cool.

Cut the cookies into pieces (about 16 squares) using a sharp knife. Store any leftover shortbread in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate and caramel firm.