Scottish Caramel Shortbread



Scottish Caramel Shortbread

Yield: Makes about 40 small squares  |  Total time: 1 hour 30 min
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Caramel Shortbread with Chocolate

I don't usually bake this sort of dessert--I often prefer something savory like a cheese plate after a meal or as a snack.  But this Scottish-inspired confection, also called Millionaire's Shortbread, is rich with chocolate and caramel layers and surprisingly addictive.  Putting it all together is easier than it looks and ends up being one of those treats you bring to the party where everyone asks for the recipe.  I made it recently for my stepson's United Nation's Day at school; he chose Scotland (I was lobbying for France or Italy for obvious culinary biases).  Tasked with making a food offering, I asked my Scottish friend, Barry, for some advice but aside from haggis and meat pies, he was at a loss.  After doing some research, I came across several recipes for Scottish Millionaire's Shortbread and modified and condensed a few of the best ones, mostly swapping in butter for margarine and adding vanilla and some orange zest; I also like a thicker layer of good dark chocolate.  These are also lovely with a little sprinkle of finishing salt, like Maldon or fleur de sel.  I highly advise cutting them into small squares as they are very rich.


For the Shortbread Layer:

    •  2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
    • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

    For the Caramel Layer:

      • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
      • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
      • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
      • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
      • Pinch of salt
      • 1 teaspoon fresh grated orange zest (optional)

      For the Chocolate Layer:

        • 20 to 24 ounces chocolate chips (bittersweet or semi-sweet or combination) (I used 2 (10-ounce) bags bittersweet chocolate chips
        • 3 tablespoons heavy cream


        1. Lightly grease a 6-cup capacity baking pan (I used a rectangular one measuring approximately 11-x-7-x-2-inches) and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-to 2-inch overhang (this will help you easily lift the shortbread from the pan).  Lightly grease the parchment paper; set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350°.
        2. Make the Shortbread Layer: Combine flour, brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times so the brown sugar is well incorporated and no lumps remain.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles small peas.  Add egg yolks and pulse just to combine.  Slowly add ice water and pulse until mixture starts to come together.  Press the mixture into an even layer into the prepared pan.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  Let cool slightly.
        3. Make the Caramel Layer: Combine the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, and orange zest, if using, together in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir constantly until butter and sugar are melted and blended with the condensed milk. The mixture will become thick and darken slightly; this takes about 15 minutes.  Pour the caramel over the cooked shortbread layer and spread into an even layer.  Let cool to room temperature.
        4. Make the Chocolate Layer: Melt the chocolate and cream together in a small saucepan over low heat (or in a double boiler/bain marie or in a microwave safe bowl, stirring at 30-second intervals until melted and well-combined).  Pour melted chocolate over the cooled caramel layer.  Let caramel shortbread cool to room temperature and then chill in refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.  You can also cover with plastic and chill overnight.  To serve: Bring shortbread back to room temperature and remove the shortbread from the pan using the parchment overhang to lift it out of the pan.  Cut into small squares and serve at room temperature. Store, in an airtight container, at (cool) room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to three days.

        Date Published: October 24, 2014

        All recipes have been tested by the Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.

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