We had a cookie swap at work earlier this week, and I decided to try out the millionaire's shortbread recipe in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. I've had tremendously good results using Baked bakery recipes in the past (just check out these PB crispy bars and Baked brownies or this bûche de Noël), so I knew the shortbread would be a good choice.
Millionaire's shortbread is composed of a layer of shortbread, a layer of caramel, and a topping of chocolate glaze. To me it sounded just like a caramel Twix.
The recipe was mostly straightforward, but I did run into a minor snafu with the caramel. I don't know if it's because I've never made caramel with condensed milk before or whether I've gotten too used to using my candy thermometer, but the caramel did not work out the way it should have or that I thought it should have.
I started by trying the stovetop method. I had the condensed milk in the top of a double boiler over low heat for about an hour and a half, and I still didn't think the caramel looked "caramel colored," so I switched to following the instructions for cooking it in the microwave.
If you do this, I suggest using a very large bowl. The caramel boiled over, oozed down the sides of the bowl, and poured onto the microwave oven tray. I transferred what was left in the bowl to a larger bowl, cleaned out the microwave, and continued microwaving. Finally, I noticed that the caramel that clung to my spatula after each stirring was starting to feel tacky, and I was sure the caramel would set up. So I stopped cooking it and poured it over the shortbread.
It ended up being the right consistency, but this method was just a bit too touchy for me, and I think I would make the caramel differently next time. Let me know how it works out for you.
Also, because I decided to cook the caramel on the stove, I switched the directions from the original recipe and started the caramel before the shortbread, since it takes a lot longer. I'll include the microwave directions for you, but if you decide to microwave, just know that you should make the shortbread first.
Millionaire's Shortbread (adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
28 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
6 ounces dark chocolate (60% to 72%), coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
Make the caramel filling: Pour the sweetened condensed milk in the top pan of a double boiler and cook it over a pan of boiling water on low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until thick and caramel colored. Stir occasionally.
(If this does not work or you prefer to use the microwave, make the shortbread first, and then pour the sweetened condensed milk in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cook on 50 percent power for 4 minutes, stirring halfway through until smooth. Then cook on 30 percent power for 12 to 18 minutes in 2-minute increments, stirring after each, until thick and caramel colored.)
Make the shortbread: While the caramel is cooking away on the stovetop, preheat oven to 350 degrees, and butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. (While the shortbread did not stick, I recommend also lining the pan with foil or parchment and buttering that, so you can lift the shortbread out of the pan easily. I don't like having to cut inside my pans and risking scratching them.)
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until blended.
Add 2 cups of flour and beat on low speed just until combined. Add the egg yolk and beat for a few seconds or until egg is mixed in.
Lightly flour your countertop and turn the dough out onto it. Dust the dough and your hands with flour, and work the dough into a 6-by-6-inch square.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of flour on top of the dough, and fold and knead it into the dough. Pat the dough out into a rectangle.
Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan, and press it into the pan.
Prick the dough all over with a fork, and bake in preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
When the caramel is ready, pour it over the cooled shortbread. Use a spatula to spread it evenly. Place pan in refrigerator, and allow caramel to cool for about 2 hours.
Make the chocolate glaze: In top of double boiler, combine chocolate, corn syrup, and butter, and cook over a pan of simmering water, stirring with a rubber spatula, until smooth.
Remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring for about 30 seconds to cool the glaze slightly.
Pour the glaze over the caramel, and return the pan to the refrigerator, and chill for another hour, until glaze is set.
Remove the pan from the fridge 30 minutes before cutting the bars so as not to crack the glaze.
Run a knife under hot water, wipe it dry with a towel and cut the shortbread in half. Run the knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut again. You'll eventually cut the whole pan of shortbread into bars the size you choose. Remember to heat and dry your knife for every cut. I cut mine 8 by 6 and ended up with 48 squares because I like smaller pieces.
If you like caramel, chocolate, and shortbread, you will love these!
What's your favorite holiday cookie? (Feel free to leave links.)
We're heading to Connecticut today to spend Christmas with my family! Are you traveling home for the holidays?
I wish you all safe travels and a happy and healthy holiday!