Millionnaire's Shortbread

September 28, 2010

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: 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.
Merrill Stubbs

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

For the 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
In This Recipe


For the shortbread

  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 and chocolate topping.

For the caramel and chocolate

  1. 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.
  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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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Reviews (32) Questions (0)

32 Reviews

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.
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.<br />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.<br />Did not enjoy this.
Author Comment
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.
MrsK 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.
PistachioDoughnut 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
Dots December 20, 2011
Can you explain why, in the beautiful photo above, it looks more like a piece of fudge on top of the carmel instead of chocolate sauce? Also, Is there a way to do something similar that can stay out more than 3 hours?
Author Comment
Merrill S. December 20, 2011
It's actually supposed to be a solid chocolate ganache, not chocolate sauce -- the liquid chocolate mixture hardens as it cools, which is intentional. Homemade caramel and chocolate ganache are two things that don't usually sit well at room temp, but you could try adding just 1/4 cup of cream to the caramel, which should keep it firmer for a little longer.
jibbitt November 13, 2011
I first had this in Edinburgh Scotland and later on the Isle of Skye in a small community called Glendale. There it was made by a lass in a local restaurant that offered the most incredible collection of home baked goods I have ever seen--worth a trip back! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I'm so happy to see the recipe.
nicolena October 21, 2011
I've heard that you can add a bit of cream of tartar to help prevent crystallization. Anyone tried that?
hardlikearmour October 21, 2011
Yes. I use a bit of cream of tartar when I make caramels. It causes the sucrose molecules to "invert" or break into glucose and fructose molecules. Different molecules in the mix interfere with the sucrose molecules linking together to form crystals. You can also add a bit of invert sugar (like corn syrup) for the same effect.
Wont W. July 2, 2011
Try the sugar without the water. When I make flan I melt the sugar with no water. Be careful, when the sugar is liquid it is very hot. You have to hover and grab it when it's the right color. As was mentioned, too dark will taste burnt. It can go from golden to dark brown very quickly.
Shuna L. October 23, 2011
I tend to caution most people away from making caramel without water. It's a much trickier, less even, more dangerous way of making caramel-- unless all one needs is a few tablespoons. I am not challenging *your* prowess, per se. <br />For the record caramel is the most dangerous ingredient (gets and stays hotter than oil) in the edible kitchen, and any precaution to keep it safer, and cooking more evenly, is better, especially for consistency.
judiu May 22, 2011
I don't have creme fresh, can I sub sour cream?
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 22, 2011
Should be fine!