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Millionnaire's Shortbread

September 28, 2010

Millionnaire's Shortbread

- Merrill

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Amanda informed me last week that I really needed to write another post about my wedding (see photo below) – and more specifically, the food. When I explained that I haven’t yet had the chance to wrangle any recipes from our fantastic caterer, Amanda reminded me of our favors: local, handmade caramels dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with Maine sea salt from a great chocolate maker called Black Dinah. Why not write about something inspired by those, she wisely suggested?

The answer, to me, was clear: Millionnaire’s Shortbread. Even if you don’t know it by its official name (popular wisdom holds that it originated in Scotland and is called Millionnaire’s Shortbread because it is so rich), chances are you’ve had it: a base of buttery shortbread, topped with a blanket of smooth caramel and then a top layer of chocolate.

Now, doesn’t that sound like it could be even better with a sprinkling of sea salt? That’s what I thought, too. Grabbing my basic shortbread recipe from this post, and borrowing Claudia Fleming’s amazing caramel recipe from her Chocolate Caramel Tarts, I came up with what I think is a pretty darn good version of this classic sweet. Let me know what you think!

Millionnaire’s Shortbread

Serves 16

For the shortbread:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

1. Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat it to 350 degrees. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl and whisk in the sugar.

2. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the flour, stirring with a fork to make a soft dough. Gently pat the dough into a 9-inch square baking pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until it is golden and no longer looks at all wet. Set aside to cool while you make the caramel.

For the caramel:

  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraiche

1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, swirling occasionally until the sugar has melted but without stirring. Simmer for about 10 minutes, swirling the pot every once and a while, until the sugar turns a dark amber color. Do not let it get too dark, or it will taste burnt.

2. As soon as the sugar reaches the right color, remove it from the heat and carefully add the cream, whisking all the time (the mixture will bubble up as you do this, so use an oven mitt or a long-handled whisk). Whisk in the butter gradually and then the crème fraiche. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. When the caramel is cool enough to touch, pour it evenly over the shortbread, tipping the pan gently and tapping it on the counter to get rid of any bubbles. Put in the fridge to firm up a little.

To finish:

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • Maldon, grey or smoked sea salt

When the caramel has firmed up a bit, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Off the heat, immediately whisk in the chocolate until smooth and shiny. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes, and then pour over the caramel, again tilting the pan and tapping it against the counter to smooth it out. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until the chocolate starts to firm up a little. Sprinkle the top with salt and refrigerate until firm enough to cut into squares, at least 3 hours. Serve quickly, as the caramel will start to ooze quickly at room temperature (as you can see, mine got a little gooey before we took the photo).

Merrill and Jonathan's wedding

Photo by Betsy Coakley


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Jocelyn G. October 18, 2010
We made these (well, the caterer did) for our daughter's Bat Mitzvah. They were FANTASTIC. I actually can't wait to finish the left overs because I am not able to resist them. Thanks so much for sharing. We will definitely make them for ourselves once I've burned off these calories!
leigh F. October 1, 2010
No problem. Thanks. I had added the butter and creme fraiche. I didn't realize it until it was too late. It was almost like there were little rocks in it. I reheated it and melted some of them. After everything was cooled the shortbread completely fell apart. It didn't taste dry or over baked so I'm not sure what I did wrong.

Thanks for trying to help.
Merrill S. October 1, 2010
Leigh, I'm so sorry to hear you had trouble. I hope you'll give it another shot. We tested this twice this week, and all went well. Perhaps it was a freak occurrence!
leigh F. September 30, 2010
Sorry. I meant to say my caramel
Merrill S. September 30, 2010
Sorry not to have responded earlier -- what do you mean by lumpy? Usually, if your caramel doesn't stay smooth as it colors, it's best to start over. Had you already added the butter and creme fraiche?
leigh F. September 30, 2010
Hi. I'm making this right now. I'm caramel is very lumpy especially along the sides of the pot. Is this bad? Is it fixable?

Thanks for any help and advice.

micki B. September 30, 2010
Many blessings to you !

Your recipe is just wonderful & as I sit here salivating it just flashed on me -it might even kick up another notch... with just one more ingredient ! ! ! Can you guess what it could be? ? ?
How about marshmallow between the caramel and chocolate layers. I envision the consistancy to be similar to a melted marshmallow s'more.... You may need to revise the title to The Multi- Millionaire's
Shortbread !
micki B. October 1, 2010
Hi Merrill, The response you sent me was actually in response to Leigh....my notation is as above under Micki .Best, Micki
Kelsey B. September 29, 2010
Merrill you are gorgeous!!! I love the picture, the dress, the flowers and the nice looking groom. Many congrats again! Also, I adore Millionaire's shortbread, I usually make it with rice flour for a really tender shortbread. Your wedding food sounds so awesome - you are going to have to recreate the entire menu for us. :)
Merrill S. October 1, 2010
Thanks so much, Kelsey! A few people have mentioned your recipe -- will have to try it!
mariaraynal September 29, 2010
Oh, I was hoping you'd share more of your wedding day with us! Merrill, you look radiant and lovely, and all the best to you and and your handsome husband Jonathon. The recipe is obviously spectacular, too. All of my favorite sweets in a neat little stack. The sea salt puts it right over the top.
Merrill S. October 1, 2010
Thank you, Maria!
Jennifer A. September 28, 2010
Very, very lovely! You both look so happy :)
kennyg September 28, 2010
You look breathe taking, :-) he is not too shabby either , congrats
Sagegreen September 28, 2010
Thanks to Amanda for nudging you to do this! What a great recipe and even more lovely photo! Thanks for sharing both with us!
gingerroot September 28, 2010
Thanks for sharing such a beautiful moment from your wedding day as well as a fabulous looking recipe!
Kitchen B. September 28, 2010
Gorgeous Merrill - many congratulations to you both and I wish you lots and lots of happy, carefree days! I LOVE 'Stinking rich shortbread' - I've made it a few times, with dulce de leche so I can attest to their deliciousness
mrslarkin September 28, 2010
You guys look fantastic! And so does this shortbread! Thanks for sharing, Merrill.
Serene September 28, 2010
Beautiful photos, wedding and shortbread and all. If I make these, and oh yes, I will make these, I think they will be breakfast, lunch, and dinner for me. No, I don't mean one piece will suffice as all three. I mean I will not want other foods until they're gone. Oh, man. These look GOOD.
PhoebeLapine September 28, 2010
you look absolutely gorgeous!!!

and what lucky wedding guests--The Naptime Chef turned me onto millionaire shortbread last winter, and YUM.
TheWimpyVegetarian September 28, 2010
What a wonderfully happy photo of you and Jonathon! You both look so happy and gorgeous! And as soon as I lose a few pounds, this is at the top of the list to make. It sounds and looks fabulous! Love the addition of the shortbread!
Merrill S. October 1, 2010
Thanks, ChezSuzanne!
lapadia September 28, 2010
Merrill, Thanks for sharing this recipe and your glorious wedding day...Happy Forever!
Merrill S. October 1, 2010
You're welcome! And thank you too!
Bevi September 28, 2010
What a gorgeous and happy couple! Shortbread anything is my idea of heaven!
Merrill S. October 1, 2010
Mine too...Although the wedding was pretty heavenly too.
MrsWheelbarrow September 28, 2010
So nice to see the happy bride and groom! The shortbread confection looks gorgeous. Planning to add it to my holiday baking!
Merrill S. September 28, 2010
Wow, what an honor!
Lizthechef September 28, 2010
You look radiant! So does your recipe...Kelsey (TheNaptimeChef) has a good one too -
Merrill S. September 28, 2010
Thank you! I'll have to check Kelsey's out -- don't know how I missed it!