Make Ahead

Earl Grey and Five Spice Millionaire's Shortbread

February 15, 2012
1 Ratings
  • Makes 16 bars
Author Notes

Years ago, my friend Sara traveled to rural India. She contacted me with photos and a plea. I had to learn how to make Bhagsu cake, a dessert from the mountain village where she stayed, so that she would never have to go without it.

After some research, I discovered that Bhagsu cake was a spinoff of an English dessert called millionaire's shortbread. Each candy-bar shaped piece consisted of three layers; shortbread, caramel and chocolate. All well and good, but it begs for an exotic twist.

My version gives it that. The layers are; five spice shortbread, Earl Grey caramel, and bergamot infused chocolate. The top is flecked with bits of candied bergamot peel, to look like gold nuggets. Because that is what millionaire's eat, right?

Bergamot, the citrus fruit used to flavor Earl Grey tea, is only in season this month. And it is still not easy to find. But don't stress. It could be omitted from this recipe with no damage.

This recipe has the added benefit of being dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan. And unforgettably tasty. —Anitalectric

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is the perfect opportunity to add a decadent vegan & gluten free dessert to your repertoire. The shortbread is flavorful and buttery (without butter!), the caramel rich and chewy, and the chocolate silky on top. The 5 spice and Earl Grey are wonderful exotic compliments to one another. While some ingredients require an extra stop at your local Asian food market it is worth the adventure! —Jenny B

What You'll Need
  • Earl Grey Five Spice Millionaire's Shortbread
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons looseleaf Earl Grey tea
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pan 5 spice shortbread (recipe follows)
  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 bergamot (optional)
  • 2 cups sugar (optional, to make bergamot syrup)
  • Five Spice Shortbread
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbp extra virgin coconut oil, room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon five spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Earl Grey Five Spice Millionaire's Shortbread
  2. To make Earl Grey caramel: Bring the coconut milk to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in tea leaves. Cover and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Whisk and then strain out leaves, being sure to press out all possible liquid (the last drops will have the most flavor). Reserve milk.
  3. Over low heat, simmer 3/4 cup of the tea infused coconut milk with the sugar, agave and salt until it reaches 234°F (soft ball stage). Add the remaining milk and heat to 248°F (hard ball stage). Please note, this will take at least an hour. You do not have to monitor it constantly, but you do have to stir once in a while to prevent burning. Use this time to make the shortbread (see recipe below).
  4. Remove caramel from heat and pour over shortbread. Spread into an even layer. Chill to set.
  5. If using bergamot, remove peel and cut into 1cm thick strips. Add, along with juice, to small pan with 1 cup sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until peels are candied and syrup is thickened. Remove peels and place, submerged, in another cup of sugar. Reserve syrup in a heatproof bowl.
  6. Place syrup over double boiler and melt chocolate and coconut oil into it. (If you are not using bergamot, omit syrup from this step). Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and a pinch of salt.
  7. Pour chocolate mixture over caramel in pan and spread into even layer. While it is cooling, remove some bergamot peels from sugar and chop fine. Sprinkle over top of chocolate.
  8. Chill completely and cut into 16 bars. Store them chilled in a tightly sealed container.
  1. Five Spice Shortbread
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 1/4 size sheet pan and parchment paper liner with shortening or oil.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients except for sugar.
  4. Beat the coconut oil, sugar and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients until incorporated and mixture is crumbly.
  5. Transfer to pan and press into an even layer. Chill in freezer for at least 5 minutes before baking.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until edges are golden but middle is still slightly soft. Remove to a rack to cool.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alice
  • creamtea
  • Anitalectric
  • Bevi
  • lapadia
I am a self-trained vegan chef, pastry chef and baker. More recently, I founded Anita's Yogurt in Brooklyn, NY. Anita's Coconut Yogurt is now available from coast-to-coast and for nationwide delivery from our website. I still frequently bake desserts for my daughter and post recipe videos on instagram. Currently baking: Kombucha Muffins From Jerrelle Guy, Genius Nut and Seed bread from Sarah Britton.

8 Reviews

Alice December 3, 2017
I have just bought some Bergamot fruits and have been trying to find a good recipe for them. This is just what I'm looking for Thank you xx
carla December 31, 2016
I made the shortbread to start and must be missing something and would love to get this right. The pan calls for a 1/4 sheet pan but how thick or what size should the cookie be when spread out? I went ahead and spread it out to 1/4 thick in a square. Cooked it and cooled followed everything. After cooling it was like dust when picked up. I tasted it also and it coated my throat to the point I was choking. Really I am not kiddin it is still bothering me! I had others follow with me and they had the same problem! Cooking Cookie party! What did we do wrong. We have all the ingredients and want to complete the bars they look awesome! Thanks for any help!
mela December 13, 2015
There's an organic dark chocolate made with bergamot, which might solve the problem of its being seasonal. Also easier!
creamtea March 2, 2012
beautiful, Anita!
Anitalectric March 1, 2012
Thank you for your comments and thank you Jenny B for your flattering testing notes. You made my day!
Bevi February 22, 2012
These look stunning, Anita.
lapadia February 19, 2012
Earl Grey is one of my favorites…this is tantalizing Chocolate & Spice euphoria; loved reading your head note, too!! Beautiful photo...
Anitalectric February 15, 2012
The extra cup of sugar used to store the bergamot peels is to help remove any bitterness leftover from the pith, and to keep them from sticking to each other. The longer they are left in the sugar, the less bitter they will be. After using all the peels, this sugar will be perfumed and can be added to other recipes, stirred into drinks, etc. You probably won't use all the peels in this recipe, which is nice because they add so much flavor to desserts.