Make Ahead

Millionaire's Shortbread

May  3, 2021
14 Ratings
  • Prep time 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 16
Author Notes

Millionaire’s Shortbread. Even if you don’t know it by its official name (popular wisdom holds that it originated in Scotland and is called Millionaire’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. —Merrill Stubbs

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Millionaire's Shortbread
  • Shortbread
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • Caramel and chocolate
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraiche
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • Maldon, grey or smoked sea salt
  1. Shortbread
  2. 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.
  3. 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 and chocolate topping.
  1. Caramel and chocolate
  2. To make the caramel: 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. To make the chocolate: 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.
  6. To finish, 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rhonda
  • Janice Zatarain
    Janice Zatarain
  • Christina @ Christina's Cucina
    Christina @ Christina's Cucina
  • Marcia Hunt Burdick
    Marcia Hunt Burdick
  • Selina

41 Reviews

Aditi July 10, 2022
So this was pretty easy, and the taste was great - complex and not too sweet - but the caramel was really too runny. As soon as I cut it into bars, it leaked everywhere, even though I kept it refrigerated. I even used only 1/4 cup cream for the caramel. If I make it again, I’ll probably use only cream or butter instead of both for the caramel. I notice that other recipes use the type of caramel made with condensed milk. Would love to make these bars with a burnt-sugar caramel that sets firmly.
Sarah March 12, 2021
These were a HUGE hit! Personally, I like my desserts slightly less sweet so I made a few adjustments, all to taste.
Only had unsalted butter so I added salt to the caramel + some to make it salted caramel, about 1 tbsp total.
I also substituted sour cream for the crème fraiche and added about 3x as much to dull the sugar a bit.
Finally, I replaced about 1/3 of the semisweet chocolate with bittersweet.

These were amazing!
Rhonda February 10, 2021
This was delicious and turned out perfectly. The caramel was amazing! I was a little worried about making the caramel without a candy thermometer, but I just watched it, and took it off the heat as soon as it turned amber. Watch out when you add the cream, it will definitely bubble up like the directions say. I think the creme fraiche was the secret ingredient to making the caramel so lovely. Heck, I am going to make the caramel again for an ice cream topping too, or anything else I can put it on. I will make this again, but I need to be careful, because I will want to eat it all! The 9x9 pan is key for perfect thickness in layers. I wish I could show the picture. I posted it to my Insta story today. Thanks Merrill!
Janice Z. February 6, 2021
I made this today and was disappointed in the amounts/ratio and the cook times. The shortbread took 45 minutes to turn "light brown". The water/sugar for the caramel did not turn "dark amber" until 45 minutes. When placing the chocolate on top of the caramel it was a very thin layer, not at all like the photo. It is still cooling so will write again after sampling. Does Food52 truly try all of these recipes before going to print?
Merrill S. February 7, 2021
All recipes marked "Test Kitchen Approved" are tested in-house! As the author of the recipe, I have made it myself many times. It sounds like you had similar challenges with the shortbread and caramel taking longer than expected. Perhaps you might check to make sure your oven is properly calibrated? Any caramel will turn dark brown long before 45 minutes if you've got it over medium-high heat, so it sounds like there may have been a temperature issue there. As for the chocolate layer, what size pan did you use?
Janice Z. February 11, 2021
8" x 8", actually smaller, so I thought the layer would be even thicker than the photo. I do want to say that the end product was delicious!!!!!! And, yes, possibly I had the caramel on too low of a heat. Thank you!
D February 6, 2021
This recipe is a keeper! First time making this recipe, it was amazing. No issues. My husband who doesn't care for caramel LOVED it. 2nd time making this, I learned a few things of what not to do!
Important to use 9 inch square pan because the ratio of the shortbread, caramel and choc are perfect.
I lined the pan with 2 strips of parchment paper to make it easier to pull out and cut into clean, nice size pieces.
Dough - after I put in the chunks of butter, I use my hand to mix and form the dough. So much easier than using a fork.
Caramel - Do not swirl sugar and water at the beginning of the cooking process. If you do, some of the sugar and water will start to crystalize around the sides of the pot and your caramel will end up tasting gritty. It should taste smooth and silky. I made the mistake of 1) swirling from the start and throughout the cooking process. Not lightly swirling but pretty aggressive. I saw crystallization forming around the sides in the middle of the process but didn't think anything of it since it melted again and went back into the sugary batch 2) I didn't taste the caramel when it was done cooking (drippings from the whisk) so I poured caramel into the pan and tasted the caramel afterwards and instantly knew I messed up the caramel. Tasted gritty and grainy so I scraped off the caramel from the shortbread and made a new batch of caramel and it was perfect because I didn't swirl a lot this time around.

Merrill S. February 6, 2021
So glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for adding the great tips!
ErinM724 October 31, 2018
Made these last night. My caramel went OK....I had a small amount of crystallization AFTER I added the cream and I may not have let it go long was very pale. However, they taste FANTASTIC. The shortbread is especially tasty. I will definitely make these again!
Christina @. August 12, 2017
I was born in Scotland, so this isn't a new recipe to me, but I will say that I don't understand the need for creme fraiche and the oh, so complicated caramel recipe? Classic Scottish recipes are usually extremely simple, and this is one of them.
Merrill S. February 7, 2021
I wouldn't call this a complicated caramel recipe. You cook sugar and water and then stir in three simple ingredients. The creme fraiche adds richness, of course, and a tiny bit of sourness, similar to the tang you'd get from a goat's milk caramel. You can leave it out if you find it overly complicated; I for one believe recipes are a great vehicle for having fun and trying new things!
Marcia H. April 24, 2014
I made this over the weekend and the feedback I received were amazing! It took me three tries to get the caramel right. I figured out that I wasn't heating the sugar/water to a high enough heat. Once I turned up the heat, it worked perfectly. I didn't have any issues with either the caramel or chocolate firming up. Once everything was set, they cut easily. Even though it seems complicated, it really didn't take that long to make. Unfortunately, I'll be making these again and again and again.
Selina February 16, 2014
So, this was my first attempt at making caramel and I took a risk and doubled the recipe for a dinner with my Flemish in-laws (to whom a dessert such as this is completely foreign.) Although the caramel was quite runny (I didn't read the comments before making it, either,) we served it in small appetizer dishes with a tiny fork with coffee and it was such a hit! I added a few salt crystals to the shortbread and the caramel (after it had cooled,) rather than to the chocolate and used some leftover valentine's champagne in place of water for the caramel as well. Beautiful recipe, I'll just have to practice my caramel craft for next time. Also, this recipe does not need to be doubled. . . it's rich enough to serve in tiny portions for perfection!
Virginia P. February 13, 2014
I was wondering about how much cream to use for the caramel, and how much to use for the ganache. Is the 1/2 cup divided between the two? 1/4 cup cream in the caramel, and 1/4 in the chocolate to make the ganache? Or 1/2 a cup for each recipe? Thank you.
Julie L. March 30, 2014
5 TBSP Cream in the caramel.
1/2 cup cream for the ganache.
lili C. January 6, 2014
There is an Australian version of this -
Cameron October 12, 2013
This is SUPER yummy...the caramel is the perfect gooieness! I'm already thinking of a pistachio addition to the shortbread crust.
Cameron October 12, 2013
oh wow, Oh Wow! I've heard of this but have never made it until now. Wow! It's like a Twix...only a millionaire times better!! It's GREAT! WOW! Fun! Thank you!
toby K. May 26, 2013
sure wish i read these reviews before trying it.... caramel way too runny. definitely not what is in the picture....
GypsyRose May 25, 2013
We in South Africa make it into a fudge and pour out over shortbread followed by chocolate.. This way it will not be all gooey and runny
Suzanne M. May 8, 2013
After discovering this confection in Wales, UK, I tried to make this recipe but also found that the caramel would not firm up. BTW, I happened to find another recipe that included an additional layer of unbaked chocolate chip cookie dough! It was called Billionaire's Shortbread! Decadent!
Karen S. March 8, 2013
Did not turn out well for me. Caramel very runny.
Did not enjoy this.
Merrill S. March 8, 2013
Sorry to hear it! The caramel is slightly runny, which I kind of enjoy, but I understand that it may not appeal to everyone.
Emilia R. February 21, 2013
A very simple way we make caramel in Brazil is to cook a (closed) can of sweetened condensed milk (leite condensado) in pressure from half to one hour. (And, no, I have never heard of any one having an accident when using pressure cooker--and consider that most women in Brazil own one.)
shannonstl January 23, 2012
I tried this recipe yesterday and the caramel crystallized immediately. The only deviation I had from the recipe was that , due to a time issue, I poured the caramel immediately out onto the shortbread layer, rather than letting it cool in the pan. Could this have caused the crystallization? I have made caramel a number of times and never had an issue with crystallization. Any insight would be appreciated.
Devangi R. January 10, 2012
Hi, I want to try this soon. I had two questions , can I substitute creme fraiche with anything else. and, what would that be? And, secondly I can I parcel it overseas. If yes, what should I keep in mind doing so ?
Cameron October 12, 2013
I used a tablespoon of sour cream and it worked perfectly