Hi All! I took a little break from sharing my weekly Feast Magazine column recipes in this space, but I’m back with a luxurious batch of Salted Caramel Millionaire Bars. It’s Halloween and we could all use an extra special chocolate-caramel dessert to help us celebrate. These layered bars are comprised of a tender shortbread crust, a soft buttery salted caramel center, and simple yet luscious dark chocolate topping. The most difficult part of this recipe is waiting for the caramel and dark chocolate layers to cool and set before devouring them. They are one hundred percent worth waiting for though and one of my favorite recipes I’ve shared this year. I hope you enjoy them and have a safe and happy Halloween!
Helpful Tips for this Recipe
*You’ll need a candy thermometer to create the salted caramel layer for these bars. If you’re making caramel for the first time it may seem a little intimidating, but it’s really a simple process. It is important to work carefully when working with hot sugar syrup though, so be sure to read through the recipe before starting and measure out all the caramel ingredients beforehand. That way you’re ready to go, with no interruptions, and the process can go smoothly.
Salted Caramel Millionaire Bars
Makes 20 bars
8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons (43g) sugar
1 tablespoons (8g) powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (141g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and powder sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, then mix until combined. Stop and scrape down the bowl as needed. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl and mix on low until dough is combined (careful not to overmix at this point or it’ll produce a tough crust).
Transfer the dough onto a large sheet of parchment paper and set a second sheet of parchment paper on top. Roll out dough into an 8-inch by 8-inch square. Place the entire parchment encased dough into the refrigerator to chill for at least 15 minutes. Peel off the parchment paper and set dough into the prepared baking pan, pressing around the edges if needed to distribute it evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, until shortbread is lightly golden. Remove from the oven and set on wire rack to cool.
Salted Caramel Filling
½ cup (113g) heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (212g) sugar
1/3 cup (79ml) water
8 tablespoon (113g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, combine the cream and salt. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.
In a medium-sized saucepan, add the sugar in an even layer and gently pour the water on top. Without stirring, cook the sugar over medium heat until the sugar mixture comes to a boil and begins to caramelize. To prevent crystallization, use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to remove any sugar crystals that may form around the side of the pan while it cooks if needed.
Once the sugar begins to turn golden amber in color, gently swirl the pan to evenly distribute the caramelization. Allow the caramel to become a deep amber color, then remove the pan from the heat and immediately whisk in the warm cream mixture (it will bubble up at first, but will calm down as it’s whisked). Whisk in the butter pieces until fully incorporated. Place back over medium heat, whisking constantly, and cook the salted caramel until it reaches 245F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Pour the salted caramel over the top of the shortbread and let cool completely to fully set.
Dark Chocolate Topping
3 ounces semi sweet or dark chocolate (55% – 65% cacao), chopped
4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
In a small heat-resistant bowl, combine the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup. Heat in the microwave, for 30 seconds, and stir until melted (watch carefully to prevent burning the chocolate). Pour the chocolate mixture over the salted caramel layer and tilt the pan as needed to spread the chocolate into an even layer. Set the pan aside at room temperature until the chocolate is set.
Once the Salted Caramel Millionaire Bars are set, if desired top with flaky sea salt or any additional decorative topping. Cut into 1 ½-inch by 2-inch bars (or 2-inch by 2-inch squares for 16 bars) and serve. Tip: For clean crisp cuts, run a large chef’s knife under hot water to warm the blade, wipe the blade dry, and then cut. Repeat this process between each cut for consistently clean results. Store leftover bars in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to three days.
This recipe is also featured in Feast Magazine’s Pantry Staple Sweets column at feastmagazine.com. If you make them, don’t forget to show me your Salted Caramel Millionaire Bars by tagging @now_forager on Instagram!