April 15th is Tax Day in the U.S.—the usual deadline for submitting your income taxes.
How do you feel? Stressed? Relieved? Happy?
Whatever the feeling, here’s a treat: a delicious recipe for Millionaire Shortbread Bars from one of our go-to chocolatiers, Lake Chaplain Chocolates.
Millionaire Bars are layered bar cookies* that combine a shortbread base topped with caramel and a smooth chocolate ganache.
It’s the crunch of the shortbread, the gooey caramel and the chocolate topping (we prefer dark chocolate) that make these cookies so rich, that they were named for millionaires.
(We won’t mention the great wealth of the calories.)
Millionaire bars have other names: caramel shortbread, caramel shortcake, caramel squares, caramel slice, chocolate caramel shortbread, millionaire’s shortbread and millionaire’s slice are those we’ve uncovered.
They are generally cut into fingers, rectangles or squares, but are sometimes circular.
While the name and possibly the first recipe originated in Scotland—home of shortbread—the first known recipes and references in print appear in Australian journals and cookbooks from the 1970s, most notably in The Australian Women’s Weekly [source].
The recipe below is the classic, containing the shortbread, caramel and chocolate. Some people prefer a milk chocolate topping to dark chocolate. Some mix the chocolate with peanut butter for a different flavor profile.
There are additional variations:
One baker, who made a version with a chocolate chip cookie dough base that she dubbed Billionaire Bars, describes the original as “a fancy version of a Twix bar.”
If you’re not into baking, assemble a quick hack: Spread shortbread cookies with caramel sauce, dulce de leche or sliced caramels; and top with thick chocolate sauce (not syrup), ganache (recipe), or a shaved chocolate bar.
For The Shortbread
1. LINE a 9″x13″ pan with parchment, leaving some overhang on the long sides so you can easily lift the finished product out of the pan. Grease lightly.
2. COMBINE all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, and paddle on medium-low speed until the mixture becomes sandy and holds together when you squeeze a bit of it in your hand.
3. PRESS the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of parchment-lined pan. Place the pan into the fridge or freezer to firm up for about 30 minutes.
4. BAKE the shortbread in a 350°F oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool while you make the caramel.
5. MAKE the caramel. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook on medium, whisking constantly for 3-5 minutes. The mixture will get thick and boil vigorously, and darken just a bit.
6. STRAIN the mixture and pour onto the cooled crust, smoothing with a spatula. Let the layer set in the fridge until completely cool.
7. MAKE the ganache topping. Melt the ingredients together in 10-second increments in the microwave or over a double boiler, stirring until smooth and shiny.
8. COOL in the fridge until set. Using the overhanging parchment edges, pull the bar out of the pan. Remove the parchment and slice with a sharp knife.
> THE HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE
*Bar cookies, or bars, are made from a batter or stiff dough that is poured or pressed into a baking pan; then baked and cut into rectangles, squares, diamonds or fingers. Bars can be single-layered (brownies, oatmeal bars, Rice Krispie treats) or multi-layered (lemon bars, millionaire bars, seven-layer bars). They can have a cake-like or chewy texture.