Brownies & Bars

Perfected Millionaire’s Shortbread (Caramel Squares)

4.64 from 183 votes
A dessert so rich you have to name it Millionaire's Shortbread! Also known as Caramel Squares, this dessert from my childhood has three decadent layers of shortbread, caramel, and chocolate.

Hi Bold Bakers!

Conas atá tú Bold Bakers? With St.Patricks Day fast approaching I wanted to share a recipe for a treat that is really popular in Ireland called a caramel square (aka Millionaire’s Shortbread). It has a layer of shortbread, layer of caramel, and milk chocolate on top. I have very fond memories of these growing up so I’m happy to be able to share an authentic recipe with you.

Where Does Millionaire’s Shortbread Come From?

Caramel shortbread squares originated in a 1970’s Australian Women’s Weekly magazine. However, it is believed that the name actually came from Scotland. There are many names for this treat: caramel squares, millionaire’s bars, caramel shortcake, or caramel slices.  

If you think about it, Twix bars are also a Millionaire’s Shortbread!

How to Make Millionaire’s Shortbread

Millionaire’s Shortbread has 3 parts (or layers) to it: Shortbread, Caramel, and Chocolate. It’s easier to breakdown how to make each of these components separately because making the final dessert is just an assembly of them all. For the sake of clarity, though, here’s how you make Millionaire’s Shortbread:

  1. Make the shortbread.
  2. Let it cool.
  3. Make the Caramel.
  4. Spread the caramel on top of the shortbread – then let it set.
  5. Melt your Milk Chocolate.
  6. Spread your milk chocolate on top of the other two layers, and let this set as well.
  7. Cut and serve!

The assembly is very simple, so let’s take a look at making the layers!

[ Get my Top 5 Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day! ]

How To Make Shortbread

Classic shortbread is typically made with flour, butter, and sugar in a 3:2:1 ratio. Shortbread is called such because the ratio of butter that is cut into the flour “shortens” the gluten strands resulting in a moist yet crumbly cookie.

Shortbreads are incredibly easy to make because it just calls for the creaming of the butter and sugar then mixing in the flour until a dough forms. 

  1. Preheat the oven and butter/line your baking pan.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar — to make this easier, make sure the butter is at room temperature.
  3. Add the flour and salt, mix into a dough.
  4. Press the dough into your baking pan, making sure it’s even for thorough baking!
  5. Bake until lightly browned on top.

Is There An Easy Way To Make Caramel?

This method of cooking caramel seems to be the easiest way to make a caramel because it doesn’t involve caramelizing sugar with the use of a candy thermometer. Caramelizing sugar could be quite tricky because the sugar could crystallize and ruin the whole batch of caramel. This alleviates that kind of caramel risk. 

Here’s how to do it for these caramel squares:

  1. Put your cans of Sweetened Condensed Milk and Butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. On medium-low heat, bring to a simmer while whisking constantly.
  3. Continue this process until the mixture thickens, turns an amber-hue, and you’ve been at it for 15+ minutes. Whisk the whole time so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan to avoid lumps.
  4. Pour it over the shortbread to cool at room temperature for a few hours.

If you’d prefer a different caramel, find out how in my How to Make Caramel guide.

Millionaires Shortbread, cut into squares, showing the layers of shortbread, caramel, and chocolate.

Adding The Chocolate

Luckily, you don’t have to make the chocolate. You just need to gently melt it in the microwave or over a bain marie before pouring it over the cooled caramel to also set at room temperature. I use milk chocolate in this recipe. It is sweeter, but that’s part of what makes these squares so “rich.”

Storing Millionaire’s Shortbread

Store in an airtight container at room temperature. No need to store these guys in the fridge. The flavor of each layer is sooo much better when at room temperature.  

Millionaire’s Shortbread lasts surprisingly long. At a minimum, I would say 5 days, but I have stored them for up to 10 days. Honestly, they have a tendency to ‘evaporate’ as the days go by so you won’t have to worry about this.

Gemma’s Pro Tips for Millionaire’s Shortbread

  • It’s really important to use room temperature butter to make the shortbread as it needs to be creamed really well
  • When making the caramel, stir constantly! Since there’s milk involved, a constant stir will prevent burned caramel on the bottom of the pan
  • Cut the squares when the chocolate is set but not fully hardened. This way you won’t crack the chocolate when cutting. 
  • When you butter and line your pan, leave some parchment overhanging on the sides so it will be easier to remove the bars. 
  • Use a clean, warm, and dry knife when cutting the bars. A clean knife will prevent the layers from running into each other. A dry knife will prevent the caramel from sticking to the knife. 

Get More Recipes!

Don’t forget to buy a copy of the Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook so you can get my Irish Shortbread Recipe!

Watch The Recipe Video!

Perfected Millionaire's Shortbread Recipe

4.64 from 183 votes
A dessert so rich you have to name it Millionaire's Shortbread! Also known as Caramel Squares, this dessert from my childhood has three decadent layers of shortbread, caramel, and chocolate.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 16 squares
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 1 hr 35 mins
A dessert so rich you have to name it Millionaire's Shortbread! Also known as Caramel Squares, this dessert from my childhood has three decadent layers of shortbread, caramel, and chocolate.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 16 squares

Ingredients

Shortbread Crust:

  • 1 cup (8oz/225g) butter , room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (5oz/142g) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (10oz/284g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Caramel filling:

  • 2 (14oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons (1oz/28g) butter

Topping:

  • 1 1/3 cup (8oz/225g) milk chocolate , chopped

Instructions

For the Shortbread Crust:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) then butter and line an 8-inch (or 9-inch) square pan. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, using an electric handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Press into the pan until leveled.
  • Bake for roughly 32-35 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Set aside to cool completely.

For the Caramel Filling:

  • Place the sweetened condensed milk and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat while whisking constantly.
  • Continue to simmer over low heat until the mixture thickens and turns into a light amber color, about 15-20 minutes (See above video). Remember to whisk all the time so the caramel won't stick t the bottom of the pot and burn.
  • Pour the thick golden caramel over the cooled shortbread and spread evenly. Allow to fully cool at room temperature for about 2-3 hours.

For the Chocolate Layer:

  • Melt the chocolate and pour over the caramel. Smooth until leveled. Allow setting at room temperature for the chocolate to harden and cut into 16 squares using a warm knife. Store any leftovers at room temperature in an airtight container for 5 days.

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Comments & Reviews

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newest oldest most useful
scott thompson
Guest
scott thompson
1 month ago

I’m a 72 year old Irish Canadian who is home because of virus and decided to make this recipe. My comment and that of my sons Patrick and Daniel “WOW”

Maria Fairview
Member
Maria Fairview
2 months ago

can we use dark chocolate?

Karen
Guest
Karen
2 months ago

Gemma, have you ever made caramel by putting an unopened can of condensed milk in a crockpot filled with water to the top of the can and cooking it for 6 to 8 hours? Afraid to try but, am so curious if this works.

Megan
Guest
Megan
1 month ago

This is DELICIOUS, but I’d really not recommend to people to make it in 8×8, as it’s far too thick (especially for kids – mine couldn’t bite it!) 9×9 at minimum, or even a larger rectangle pan. In my opinion! Really yummy with some flaky salt sprinkled on the caramel layer to cut the sweetness.

Sarah Hawthorne
Guest
Sarah Hawthorne
16 days ago

Is it 14 ounces of condensed milk in total, or two 14 ounce cans of condensed milk? Also love your recipes 💕😊

Maria Fairview
Member
Maria Fairview
17 days ago

This is literally the BEST Millionaire Shortbread that you’ll ever taste!! My whole family (9 siblings and my parents:) love it, especially when Macadamia nuts and dark chocolate are added to the mix! It is easy to make and tastes AMAZING!!
Thanks for another superb recipe, Gemma!!
Hope you and your fam are well!!

Rose :)
Guest
Rose :)
20 days ago

Hello Gemma! I want to make these for my little cousins and I noticed in the video that you’d mentioned how one should use cooking chocolate and not melt Cadbury bars. The problem is, that’s kinda the only option I have. Is it still possible to make this recipe with the above-mentioned bars?

Thx.

Rose

Marymunzert
Member
Marymunzert
2 months ago

Can these be made ahead and frozen? Thinking of adding them to a dessert table at a wedding.

mary
Guest
mary
4 days ago

I have made these bars for years but never used milk chocolate I think it would make them too sweet. Either semi-sweet or dark chocolate works better. BTW I think the origin of this recipe is actually Scottish!

Sellathurai
Member
Sellathurai
4 days ago

Can I replace condensed milk with evaporated milk n lakanto?

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!

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