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Millionaire’s Shortbread (Caramel Slice)

With a buttery shortbread crust covered in gooey caramel and topped with rich dark chocolate, Millionaire’s Shortbread is a seriously decadent treat. This classic recipe is also known as Caramel Slice, and one piece is never enough!

I have been feeling nostalgic for the cakes and slices of my childhood again, which means I whipped up a big batch of Millionaire’s Shortbread or Caramel Slice todayIf you’ve never tried it before, you will love this deliciously decadent sweet treat.

Millionaire's Shortbread sliced on a cutting board with a cup of coffee and a cake stand.

What is Millionaire’s Shortbread?

Millionaire’s Shortbread is a layer of shortbread topped with lightly salted caramel and dark chocolate. A sprinkle of sea salt on the top cuts through the sweetness, making this one very indulgent and moreish dessert.

New Zealanders and Australians call this recipe Caramel Slice, and it’s been incredibly popular in my part of the world since at least the 1970s. This beloved slice was the star of the show at school fairs and fêtes and to be found in the sweets cabinet of even the most humble bakery.

Nobody is quite clear on the recipe’s origin, however most evidence seems to point to women’s magazines of the day, like The Australian Women’s Weekly (well known for their love of all recipes starring condensed milk!)

SEA SALT + CARAMEL = SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS

Part of the facelift I’ve given this recipe for the 21st century is the inclusion of sea salt to the caramel to satisfy our craving for salty-sweet goodness.

Funnily enough, caramel shortbread would always have been made with salted butter when I was a kid, as we didn’t have any other kind!

This is the perfect treat for special occasions or sharing with friends over a cup of tea or coffee.

Ingredients

To make Millionaire’s Shortbread, you’ll need the following main ingredients:

  • Flour: Plain or all-purpose flour is best here.
  • Sugar: White sugar for the shortbread and soft brown sugar for the caramel.
  • Butter: I always use unsalted butter in baking to control the amount of salt in the final product.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: Sweetened condensed milk is the shortcut ingredient to a delicious caramel without using heavy cream.
  • Dark Chocolate: Because this sweet is rich, I use a high cocoa content dark chocolate (70%+) to offset the sweetness.

The recipe card at the bottom of the page contains the complete ingredient list and instructions.

How to make Millionaire’s Shortbread

Millionaire’s Shortbread is made in three layers, Shortbread, Caramel and Chocolate, so there are three main steps:

  1. Stir together the easy shortbread dough and bake until golden.
  2. Simmer the caramel ingredients together until thickened, then pour over the shortbread and bake again to set.
  3. Melt the chocolate with a bit of oil (this makes it easier to slice), pour over the caramel layer and chill to set.

Baking Dish Size

In the photos here I am using a glass baking dish from IKEA with a top measurement of 11×7 in. (28x18cm). The base of this dish is a little smaller than the top.

If you want to have thick layers in your Millionaire’s shortbread, you can also use an 8×8 or 8×10 inch baking pan.

Storage

Millionaire’s Shortbread can be stored in an airtight container in a cool place (ideally the fridge) for up to a week and can be frozen.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is it called Millionaire’s Shortbread?

The name Millionaire’s Shortbread appears to have come from Scotland, no doubt due to the rich double topping on top of the traditional Scottish shortbread.

Can I use milk or white chocolate instead?

Yes, you can. I’d strongly recommend a very dark 60-70% cocoa chocolate instead; it will cut through the sweetness of the dish.

Can I use evaporated milk? (That’s Kondensmilch to my German readers)

No! You need Sweetened Condensed Milk (Gezuckerte Kondensmilch) to make the caramel. Although making a traditional soft set caramel from scratch is possible, condensed milk is just the foolproof method.

How do I cut nice clean slices?

With this recipe, adding oil to the chocolate means it cuts nicely and cleanly. I’d recommend using your thinnest, sharpest knife, dipping it in water and wiping it clean before each cut.

Caramel Slice on a cutting board.
Caramel Slice on a cake stand.
Millionaire's Shortbread sliced on a cutting board with a cup of coffee and a cake stand.

Millionaire’s Shortbread (Caramel Slice)

Yield: 16 slices
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Resting Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours

With a buttery shortbread crust covered in gooey caramel and topped with rich dark chocolate, Millionaire’s Shortbread is a seriously decadent treat. This classic recipe is also known as Caramel Slice, and one piece is never enough!

Ingredients

for the base:

  • 200g (1 ¾ cups) plain or all-purpose flour
  • 50 g (¼ cup) white sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 100g (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten

for the caramel:

  • 397 g (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 100 g (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed (see note)
  • 75 g (⅓ cup + 1 Tbsp) soft brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

for the top:

  • 200 g (7 oz.) good quality dark chocolate
  • 20 ml (4 tsp) vegetable oil

optional:

  • flaky sea salt (Maldon or similar flaky kosher salt)

Instructions

  1. PREPARE: Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Butter a 18cm x 28cm (7 x 11 in.) baking dish, then line it with baking parchment paper - it helps to cut triangles out of the corners of the baking paper so that it fits flush in the dish.
  2. SHORTBREAD LAYER: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt, then add the butter. The butter should be very soft, so you should be able to easily squeeze it together with your thumb and forefinger. Mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon or your hands until they look like rough crumbs. Add the egg yolk and knead until you have a crumbly dough.
  3. BAKE SHORTBREAD: Tip the shortbread mixture into the prepared pan and press it firmly and evenly across the base. Prick all over with a fork, then bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and browning around the edge. Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes before you begin the caramel, leaving the oven on.
  4. CARAMEL LAYER: Add all caramel ingredients to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring for 5-7 minutes until the mixture thickens and begins to smell and look like delicious caramel. Watch out for spitting sugar!
  5. BAKE CARAMEL: Remove the saucepan from the heat, then pour caramel over the shortbread base. Give the baking dish a little shake to even it out, then bake in the oven for 15 minutes. The caramel will bubble and turn golden brown, it may even have a few scorched spots, but that is fine; you’ll cover it with the chocolate later. Cover it loosely with foil if it looks like it is about to burn (it shouldn’t). When cooked, remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes.
  6. CHOCOLATE LAYER: Cut the chocolate into small pieces and place into a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted, remove from the heat and mix in the oil until thoroughly combined. Pour a layer of chocolate over the caramel, tilting the pan to get an even layer. If there are any air bubbles, pop them with the tip of a sharp knife. Refrigerate until completely set; 2-2.5 hours.
  7. SERVE: To serve, remove from the fridge, allow to warm slightly for 5 minutes, then use a long, sharp knife to cut into pieces, dipping the blade in water and wiping clean between each cut. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes before serving.

Notes

  1. If you use salted butter, omit the additional salt.
  2. I like to use a double boiler to melt the chocolate. If you want, you can melt the chocolate by giving it short 30-second bursts in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring between each burst.
  3. This is a decadent dessert (hence the name!), so I’d suggest cutting it into smallish pieces to serve.
  4. Keep it in the fridge in warm weather, though it will be fine in cooler weather covered on a cake stand or similar for several days.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 396Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 3gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 555mgSodium: 195mgCarbohydrates: 765gFiber: 25gSugar: 712gProtein: 94g

Nutrition is calculated automatically and may not always be accurate.

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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author and food photographer. Jay is the author of two cookbooks: 'Tasty' (2017) and 'Simply Summer' (2019). Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

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