Brownies & Bars

Perfected Millionaire’s Shortbread (Caramel Squares)

4.74 from 53 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

4.74 from 53 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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Maria Fairview
Member
Maria Fairview
10 days ago

can we use dark chocolate?

Marymunzert
Member
Marymunzert
22 days ago

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

Member
Apple Santos
1 day ago

Hi Gemma,
Can I use a can of dulce de leche instead for the caramel part? Should I still add the butter indicated in the recipe?
Thank you, and love your recipes!

Colleen
Guest
Colleen
6 days ago

Shortbread is fabulous. I followed the directions for the caramel to a T but I fear the caramel is still too soft after 2 hours. It is not runny at all but a tad “sticky” to the touch. Will give it another hour or so before I add the chocolate layer. Have I done something wrong with the caramel?

Member
Michael DiCiero
7 days ago

The quality of your butter will make all the difference in the world, Exquisite recipe, Thank you so much!

Wyvern
Member
Wyvern
12 days ago

Thank so much for this recipe! It tastes amazing and I’m sure I’m going to just make the shortbread part time and again. It turned out fabulous. This will make a lovely dessert for my St. Patrick’s Dinner. When the only recipes I could find for the occasion were either Irish crème, Guinness, or green, this fit the bill perfectly. And though I wanted to keep it for St Patrick’s day, I couldn’t resist cutting into it as soon as it was ready. Yum!

raff
Member
raff
12 days ago

Hi gemma…my caramel got so hard n.chewy ….wht do i do now …😒

Member
Felicia Winfree Cravens
13 days ago

IT IS SO HARD NOT TO POP THIS INTO THE FRIDGE RIGHT NOW!

I ended up making it in my shortbread mold (as I commented on the video), but waiting for the chocolate to set is agony!

Asy
Guest
Asy
13 days ago

Hi! I love how it turned out but my caramel was too chewy 🙁 What can I do to get the right texture?

Mareena
Guest
Mareena
17 days ago

Hey, this looks absolutely delicious, but is this by any chance an overly sweet recipe? (I personally don’t like recipes that just take like sugar.)
Thank you 🙂

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 a FREE profile and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new dessert recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!

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