Millionaire’s Shortbread

published Oct 19, 2022
Millionaire's Shortbread Recipe

A euphoric rhapsody of flavor and texture, composed of distinct layers of buttery shortbread, chewy milk caramel, and a thick top hat of chocolate.

Makes16 (2 1/4-inch) squares

Prep1 hour

Cook1 hour

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A photo three Millionaires shortbread bars (also known as caramel bars- a biscuit confectionery item composed of a square, shortbread biscuit base topped with caramel and milk chocolate) in a stack.
Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

Millionaire’s shortbread, also known as caramel slice or chocolate caramel shortbread, is a scrumptious rhapsody of flavor and texture composed of three distinct layers: buttery, tender shortbread, slightly chewy and milky caramel filling, and decadent chocolate topping. It’s a dessert that’s hard to resist and even harder to stop eating after one piece. 

The History of Millionaire’s Shortbread

The main component of this dish is Scottish shortbread, a tender, crumbly and buttery cookie that is believed to have originated in the 12th century and was later refined to resemble its current rendition closely. However, the first version of this shortbread being topped with milky caramel (without chocolate) appeared in The Australian Women’s Weekly under the name Caramel Shortbread in the 1970s. The chocolate layer was added a decade later, and sometime in the 1990s, the name Millionaire’s Shortbread started to appear in Scotland.

Some claim the name is a reflection of ingredients used in this cookie (like butter, chocolate, and caramel) which represent decadence and wealth; others argue its name is representative of its decadence.

Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

Why You Should Chill Your Dough

For best results, yes, you must chill your dough until it’s completely cold. When baked, the chilled, well-creamed butter will slowly melt, releasing steam that will help leaven the cookie and create the most scrumptious tender texture and buttery flavor. 

Millionaire's Shortbread Recipe

A euphoric rhapsody of flavor and texture, composed of distinct layers of buttery shortbread, chewy milk caramel, and a thick top hat of chocolate.

Prep time 1 hour

Cook time 1 hour

Makes 16 (2 1/4-inch) squares

Nutritional Info


For the shortbread:

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) unsalted butter

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 2/3 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup

    potato starch or cornstarch

  • 3/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking powder

For the caramel:

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 1 (14-ounce) can

    sweetened condensed milk

  • 3/4 cup

    packed dark brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup

    maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup

    heavy cream

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 1/2 cup

    dark chocolate chips, preferably Guittard

  • 1/2 cup

    milk chocolate chips, preferably Guittard, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    neutral vegetable oil, such as avocado or canola

  • Flaky salt, for garnish (optional)


  1. Place 2 sticks unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using a hand mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened. Meanwhile, line a 9-inch square baking pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper: Place them perpendicular to each other in the pan and make them long enough to they hang over the sides to create a sling. Lightly coat the parchment with cooking spray. Place 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup potato starch or cornstarch in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder to the bowl of butter. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until well creamed, light, and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until combined and a thick dough similar to cake batter forms, 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. Transfer the dough to the pan and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

  5. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Uncover the dough and pierce it all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan until room temperature, about 1 hour. If the dough puffs up considerably, very lightly press into the dough with parchment paper or an offset spatula. Meanwhile, make the caramel.

  6. Juice 1/2 medium lemon until you have 2 teaspoons. Place 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, 3/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 stick unsalted butter, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until it reaches 235ºF, 15 to 20 minutes.

  7. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the lemon juice and quickly whisk to combine. Pour the caramel over the shortbread and spread with an offset spatula into an even layer, pushing the caramel into all the corners. Tap the pan a few times against the counter to pop any bubbles. Let cool completely. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours, preferably 24, so the caramel has enough time to properly set and harden. (Alternatively, let the caramel cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.)

Make the chocolate ganache:

  1. Place 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, 1/4 cup of the milk chocolate chips, and 2 tablespoons neutral oil in a medium heatproof bowl or double boiler. Fit over a small saucepan of barely simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Heat, stirring with a heatproof flexible spatula, until the chocolate is melted, 1 to 2 minutes.

  2. Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Add the remaining 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips to the bowl and stir until smooth and all the chocolate is melted. Let cool until cool to the touch (about 80℉, just a little warmer than an ideal room temperature of 75℉), about 40 minutes.

  3. Pour the ganache over the caramel layer. Spread into an even layer with an offsept spatula, pushing it into all the corners. Tap the pan a few times against the counter to pop any bubbles. Use the offset spatula to make a few swooshes in a decorative pattern if desired. Cover and refrigerate until the chocolate is set.

  4. Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Use the parchment paper sling to lift the slab out of the pan onto a cutting board. Slowly and carefully peel off and remove the parchment.

  5. Cut into 16 (2 1/4-inch) squares or desired pieces. I recommend gently slicing just into the chocolate, then slicing through the rest of the cookie, so the chocolate doesn’t break. Sprinkle with flaky salt before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The shortbread can be baked up to 4 days ahead, cooled, wrapped well, and refrigerated.

Storage: The bars can be well wrapped and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Depending on the humidity levels, the caramel might get a little sticky over time.