Best Millionaire’s Shortbread Recipe

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One of the most delightful things I was introduced to when I visited Scotland was Millionaire’s shortbread.

Now, a millionaire’s shortbread recipe actually has 3 layers, with actual shortbread only being one of them, so you really have no idea what to expect as a tourist when someone offers you one.

But you accept because it has the word “millionaire” in it and it’s Scottish so it must be good, right? (for more Scottish baking fun, check out this cookbook!)


Millionaire’s shortbread is made with a shortbread base, a caramel filling, and a chocolate top, and it’s basically the best thing you’ve ever eaten for dessert.

When I tried to make it at home, I was mostly just shocked at how easy it was even for a beginning baker to do because it looks so wonderfully and deliciously complicated.

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Why Is it Called Millionaire’s Shortbread?

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The story behind the name is still unclear, though many people feel as though it’s called millionaire’s shortbread because the taste is so rich.

It feels like a luxurious dessert, as well, fit for a millionaire!

It was originally called caramel slice when it was first mentioned in Australia in the 1970s, but millionaire’s shortbread sounds way more fun.

Ingredients for Millionaire’s Shortbread

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To make this tasty Scottish treat, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (250 grams)
  • 3/4 cup butter (175 grams) – for shortbread
  • 1/3 cup sugar + 1 tsp sugar (75 grams) – for shortbread
  • (1) 14 oz can of condensed milk (also called sweetened condensed milk) (397 grams)
  • 1/3 cup + 3tbsp butter (100 grams) – for caramel
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (100 grams)
  • 8 oz (200 grams) milk chocolate

How to Make Millionaire’s Shortbread

See the recipe card below for specific amounts, but here is the step-by-step on making millionaire’s shortbread.

First, we’ve got to make the shortbread base, so preheat the oven and put a piece of baking paper in a square pan, ready to press the shortbread into.

In a single bowl, dump the flour and sugar together, mix it around, and then dump in the butter.

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Using your fingers, squeeze the butter into the mixture until it resembles large breadcrumbs.

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Take the mixture out of the bowl and onto the counter, and knead a few times with your hands to make sure it’s all incorporated.

Put the shortbread into the square pan, pressing it down flat and even.

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Poke holes with a fork into the shortbread to allow it to cook more thoroughly, and put it in the oven for 20 minutes.

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Once your shortbread is done and has gone golden, let it cool completely.

The next step is the caramel, which requires butter, light brown sugar, and the can of condensed milk.

Pour all three ingredients into a medium sized pot and turn the heat to medium-low.

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Stir continuously until the sugar is melted and it is all one mixture, and then crank the heat up to medium-high and let the mixture come to a boil.

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I let it boil for a couple of minutes, continuously stirring, then take the heat back down to medium-low and continue stirring for 3 to 4 minutes.

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Your caramel should have changed color and gotten dark at this point.

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Take it off the heat, stir for a minute or so more, and then pour directly over the cooled shortbread.

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Put the pan with the shortbread and caramel into the fridge for about an hour until the caramel has set.

It won’t be rock solid, but it will be hard enough that you can press on it with your finger and not go through the caramel.

Finally, once your caramel has cooled and set, it’s time for the chocolate!

Melt the chocolate with your preferred method, which I’ll talk about below, and pour it over the caramel.

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Use a spatula to even it out, and put it back in the fridge for another couple of hours.

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Some people like to leave it overnight, but you just want the chocolate to harden before you dig in.

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How to Serve Millionaire’s Shortbread

When you’re ready to eat, pull out the entire block of shortbread from the pan using the baking paper, and using a warm knife, cut into slices.

The chocolate may crack if your knife isn’t warm enough, but it all tastes the same so don’t panic too much.

What Happens if My Caramel Doesn’t Set?

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The key to getting the caramel to set is making sure that you brought it to the boil, but if yours still feels soft after a few hours, there’s not much you can do that at point besides continue with the chocolate and accept that you’ll have a bit more of a gooey dessert, which is never a bad thing!

How Do I Melt the Chocolate Correctly?

There are a lot of different theories about how to melt chocolate the best, with some people preferring just to melt it in the microwave (make sure to do it in bursts and not all at once, stirring in between).

For me, especially for this recipe where I want to make sure the chocolate is going to harden, I like to do it properly by filling a pan with an inch or so of water and melting the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl that is placed directly onto the pan.

The water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl!

Heat the water on medium heat, and as you do, continuously stir the chocolate.

It will soon melt easily and you should keep stirring throughout until it’s fully melted.

How to Store Caramel Shortbread

Store caramel shortbread in an airtight container in the fridge if your kitchen is at all warm.

In the winter, you can keep it at room temperature.

This is a dessert best eaten within just a couple days of making it, but then again, you probably won’t be able to make it last that long!

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