Salted Cookie Butter Millionaire's Shortbread

December  1, 2022
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 4 hours 35 minutes
  • Cook time 2 hours 50 minutes
  • makes 24 bars
Author Notes

Speculoos are lightly spiced cookies originating from Belgium. They’re crunchy, perfectly spiced, and understated. If you’ve ever snacked on free cookies during a long flight, chances are you’ve had speculoos. The cookies are delicious dunked into hot coffee or eaten all on their own, but even more tempting when pureed into a creamy, peanut butter-like spread called cookie butter. The indulgent, moreish spread has become increasingly popular throughout grocery stores in the States, and this recipe utilizes the beloved butter to bolster classic millionaire’s shortbread cookies with a spiced, nutty flavor.

A base layer of tender shortbread gets topped with a salted speculoos caramel that lets the flavor of the cookie butter shine. Two cookie butter-spiked ganaches—one made with dark chocolate and one with white—finish off the cookie bars to create a swirling, galaxy-like pattern. A final flourish of flaky sea salt balances out the sweetness and drives the salty-sweet flavor profile home. It’s a bit of a project, but one that is well worth the effort: The striking pattern and unexpected flavor profile will steal the spotlight at any cookie swap. You can feel free to break up the steps into multiple days, tackling just one layer at a time. (Adapted from recipes from Cookies: The New Classics and Cook’s Illustrated.)

Note: Speculoos cookie butter can be found in specialty grocery stores or easily ordered online. Biscoff and Trader Joe’s brand cookie butter would both work well in this recipe.
Jesse Szewczyk

Test Kitchen Notes

To bake these cookies alongside Jesse Szewczyk—and hear more about how this recipe came together—listen to the latest episode of our podcast, Play Me a Recipe. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • Shortbread Base
  • 1 2/3 cups (214g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks/170g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Salted Speculoos Caramel
  • 3/4 cup (175 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick/57g) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) light corn syrup
  • 1 14-ounce can (414 ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup (90 grams) speculoos cookie butter (see Note)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Topping
  • 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces/85 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces/85 grams) white chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons (59 ml) whole milk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (36 grams) speculoos cookie butter, divided
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
  1. Make the shortbread base: Heat the oven 325°F. Grease an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with nonstick pan spray and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on all four sides. In a large bowl combine the flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and stir together until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough into the lined baking pan and press into an even layer. Prick the top several times with a fork and bake until the shortbread is slightly puffed and golden brown in the center, 33 to 38 minutes. Remove from the oven and use the bottom of a measuring cup or a metal spatula to press down on the shortbread to compact it slightly. (This will prevent the bars from crumbling when sliced.) Let the shortbread cool for 30 minutes.
  2. While the shortbread is cooling, make the caramel: In a medium saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, speculoos cookie butter, vanilla, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent burning, until the mixture is smooth, glossy, and registers 240°F on the candy thermometer, about 8 to 11 mins. Pour over the shortbread base, spread into an even layer, and transfer into the fridge. Let cool for 1 hour.
  3. As the caramel is cooling, make the topping: Place both the white and semisweet chocolate chips in two separate medium, microwave-safe bowls. Add 2 tablespoons whole milk and 1 tablespoon cookie butter to each bowl. Microwave each bowl on high power in 10 second increments, stirring between each, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds total. Transfer the white chocolate ganache into a piping bag or zip-top baggie.
  4. Working quickly, pour the dark chocolate ganache over top of the caramel and spread into an even layer. Pipe thin, straight lines of the white chocolate ganache all going the same way. (You might not need all of the ganache.) Use a toothpick to drag it through the lines, alternating the direction you go each time to create a rough chevron pattern. Transfer the bars into the fridge and let set for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Sprinkle the top of the bars with flaky sea salt and cut into a 3 by 8 grid to make 24 bars. (For cleaner edges, feel free to trim off the border of the pan before slicing.) Serve chilled or at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ellen White
    Ellen White
  • Cheryl Gregg
    Cheryl Gregg
  • Lsd

3 Reviews

Ellen W. December 21, 2022
This is ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. My candy thermometer wasn’t moving quickly so I stopped trusting it and used my instant read for the caramel. Took the caramel off when it hit 240 on my instant thermometer and my candy thermometer still said 220 and the caramel has a perfect chew! I’m definitely making this again-it’s absolutely beautiful! My roomies couldn’t stop eating it 🤗
Lsd December 20, 2022
Quite phenomenal. The cookie butter made it even better. I followed directions as written. I was nervous it was going to be too sweet, and while this is a decadent treat, I didn’t feel it was crazy, over-the-top sweet. Maldon salt flakes on top is absolutely the “cherry” on top.
Cheryl G. December 17, 2022
This looked too delicious to not give a whirl (despite my hesitation to try an unreviewed recipe). But 240 on my candy thermometer left me with a tooth-breaking hard caramel that I didn't want to risk giving guests. I instead found another recipe that suggested 225, which left me with a gooier (and safer) bar.