Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars

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In England, where I started my 3-week Europe trip, I was stunned by the sheer variety of food that I encountered. Okay, so maybe the fish-‘n-chips and beer British stereotype I had always entertained wasn’t exactly a fair one–though they do like their beer–but I wasn’t ready for the amount of GOOD STUFF I inhaled during my 6 days around Kent, London, Oxford, Cambridge, and York. From tea time scones & jam to gratins and savory pies, there simply was no shortage of perfect nibbles to fuel our packed daily schedules.

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By far my favorite eateries to visit were the pastry and bread shops. There’s something infinitely comforting about the smell of freshly baked goods wafting in the air as you peruse shelves with strange, quaintly British names like “Bakewell Tart” and “Eton Mess” scribbled underneath them. Even familiar-looking desserts had unfamiliar names: biscuits for shortbreads, knickerbocker glory for a particular type of ice cream sundae, and puddings for desserts in general.

Though I didn’t encounter this particular dessert in the UK until we arrived in Edinburgh after our England tour, the Millionaire’s Shortbread–or what most online recipes would just call Millionaire Bar–was one of those known-yet-unknown foods that I felt I was meeting for the first time halfway across the world. We were at the Edinburgh Castle whiskey gift shop, where we had just finished sampling two extremely disappointing creme-flavored whiskeys, when I spotted these little gems sitting on a white tray next to the castle-themed hip flasks: just a scant layer of caramel sandwiched between an even scantier layer of chocolate on top and a hefty, THICK slab of shortbread on the bottom. The caramel and chocolate looked thinner than the woefully optimistic sundresses and cardigans that I had brought with me to the freezing, wet city.

The boy (who, by the way, is originally from England) came over and laughed when I expressed my surprise at these Frankensteinian versions. What happened to the caramel? The chocolate? The good stuff? He explained that in the UK, the right way of making Millionaire’s Shortbread is with an emphasis on the shortbread–you know, that stuff that the British are really, really good at making. Having tried shortbread in both England and Scotland, I wasn’t about to challenge that thought, and instead immediately scribbled down a recipe in my notebook to try when I got back home from my trip.

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While this recipe is still a LOT bit heavy on the caramel (okay, I couldn’t resist! I love caramel, and you know you do too), it’s the perfect bar in my book. With buttery shortbread, rich caramel, and smooth chocolate, this dessert is so simple and classy to make–just make sure you leave yourself ample time to whip together each of the layers and refrigerate them properly, because I got impatient to eat after the first hour and the result was much gooier caramel than I wanted, though it was damn delicious anyway. (Exhibit A: the photos taken with the adorable blue Cath Kidston London kitchen towel I bought in England feature gooey, pre-refrigeration bars; photos taken against purely white background are post-refrigeration, and much prettier to eat IRL, even if the photos were much more rushed!)

I’m still recovering from my post-travel busywork/catch-up–plus a lovely long weekend visit from a good friend!–but I’m glad to be having so much quality time in the kitchen again. More trip posts and Europe-inspired recipes coming this week!

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 What recipes have you been inspired to try based on your travels?


Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars

Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars

Yield: 1 8x8-inch pan (36 small squares)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes

These Millionaire's Bars are inspired by my travels in the UK! With the perfect ratio of buttery shortbread, smooth caramel, and rich chocolate, these bars are worth making for your next picnic or just for a sweet treat! Recipe lightly adapted from Allrecipes.


For the shortbread crust:

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup butter, cold and cubed

For the caramel layer:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt

For the chocolate layer:

  • 1 1/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips


For the shortbread crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8x8-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and flour. Add cold butter cubes and mix in (I use my clean hands to really get in there and knead everything together) until butter is evently incorporated and shortbread dough resembles wet sand. Press evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden. Allow to cool while you make your caramel layer--I usually pop the pan directly into the freezer for 10 minutes.

For the caramel layer:

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepauce over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Heat, stirring occasionally, over low heat until mixture comes to a boil. Continue simmering, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes over low heat until mixture turns an amber color and thickens slightly. Turn off heat, add sea salt, and continue beating vigorously for 3 minutes. Pour evenly over cooled shortbread crust and transfer pan to refrigerator for 1 hour. (In a pinch, you can also pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes while making your chocolate layer.)

For the chocolate layer:

  1. Place chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Stir chocolate mixture, then heat in additional 15-second increments as needed until chocolate is completely melted and smooth when stirred.
  2. Pour evenly over caramel layer. Cover pan with foil and refrigerate for an additional 1-2 hours before slicing into 36 small squares and serving.


For the cleanest slice, use a hot knife to score your chocolate after refrigerating your bars for about 30 minutes (while chocolate is still slightly soft). Return pan to refrigerator for an additional 30-60 minutes, then cut chilled bars completely. Doing so will prevent your chocolate from cracking during the cutting process.



11 Replies to “Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars”

  1. Love shortbread. Either by itself or covered with caramel and chocolate. Load as much on as you want — we can handle it. 🙂

    1. Oh, I know what you mean. I could do shortbread for days–thanks, John!

  2. Love millionaire’s shortbread! It’s one of my favourite sweet treats with all the crumbly shortbread, gooey caramel and chocolate topping. 🙂 Yours look delicious and I love that Cath Kidston kitchen towel. Great to hear you had a brilliant time on your travels, Ala!

    1. I can totally see why–I had never tried them before, but they are SO good! And thank you, girl <3 hope you've been faring wonderfully lately, too!

  3. Oh, my!!! These bars made from shortbread, caramel and chocolate are my type of treat. I will have to try your recipe. I know my kids and hubby will be crazy for them too.

    1. Oh, you’ll LOVE these, Denise–and so will your family! Thanks for stopping by–hope you guys get to try them soon 🙂

  4. Millionaire’s shortbread is the best thing ever. And among a “best ever” food, this recipe looks exceptional. 🙂

    1. OMG yes. I’ll take caramel in the face all day, every dayyy~ thanks, lady!

  5. […] teaspoon of this baker’s ego, these Salted Caramel Snickerdoodle Bars feature my very favorite salted caramel filling–a thick, rich, delectable pool of caramel with an unimaginably supple texture, topped off with […]

  6. Mike (Dad trying new stuff for kids!!) says: Reply

    I just made these. Now that they are done and sliced, do they stay in or out of the refrigerator?

    1. Hey Mike! Sorry for the late reply here. I usually store these in the fridge, but either way would be okay. Hope you and the kids liked them!

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