This past weekend I needed to make a British-inspired dessert (to bring to a viewing party for a certain wildly popular TV series from across the pond). In doing a little research, I came across Millionaire's Shortbread, which is thought to be Scottish in origin. How have I missed this apparently famous baked confection for so long? It's a dreamy triple threat of shortbread, caramel, and chocolate. It might be on my personal "Top 10 Baked Desserts" list. While this dessert apparently has several names, I like this name best since you won't easily forget just how rich it is.
Among the ingredient list below, you might wonder about Lyle's Golden Syrup. While we have corn syrup here in the colonies, the Brits have Lyle's, which has a similarly consistency, but made from sugar cane or beets, rather than corn. Both liquid (or invert) sugars help ensure the caramel doesn't crystallize as it cooks, but Lyle's also adds a more robust flavor. And a bit of British Isles flair.
My Millionaire's Shortbread (adapted from the recipe at Food 52)
1 1/2 c. flour
5 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature, cut into 10-12 chunks
2 T. milk
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1 T. Lyle's Golden Syrup or corn syrup
5 T. heavy cream
5 T. butter, room temperature, cut into 5 chunks
1 T. crème fraiche (or sour cream)
1/2 c. heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8 baking pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper (spray the pan lightly with cooking spray, lay down one sheet in one direction, spray again, and lay down the second sheet cross ways. Spray the top sheet lightly with cooking spray).
In a stand mixer using the flat beater, add flour, sugar and salt, and mix briefly until combined. Add butter chunks and mix until the butter breaks down to the size of walnuts, then add egg and milk and mix until the dough just comes together. Press shortbread dough into the pan and bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool, keeping the shortbread in the pan.
To make the caramel, put sugar, syrup and water in a saucepan on medium high heat on the stove. Put the cream, butter, and crème fraiche in a bowl next to the stove. Do not stir or swirl, especially once the sugar mixture starts to boil. If sugar bubbles up and sticks to the pan, you can brush down the inside of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Watch the mixture carefully, since it will bubble clear for a few minutes, then start to color quickly. As soon as the sugar turns amber, turn off the heat and add the cream, butter and crème fraiche and whisk (there will be lots of bubbles). When all of the ingredients have been incorporated and the butter is melted, the caramel will stop bubbling. Pour caramel over the shortbread layer and cool (in the fridge if needed).
To make the chocolate, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan. Turn off the heat, add the chopped chocolate, wait a minute, then stir until the chocolate is melted. Pour chocolate over the cooled caramel layer, tipping the pan if needed to spread it evenly. Cool, in the refrigerator, for at least 3 hours.
Remove it from the pan using the parchment paper to lift it out. Cut into 16 squares.