By Jeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches
Millionaire's bars. I first heard of these amazing squares online. Someone said they tasted like a homemade Twix bar and I became obsessed with finding out more. Luckily, on a trip to NYC, I walked out to Red Hook in Brooklyn and tried one of these bars from the famous bakery, Baked. They were perfectly buttery, sweet and had a nice caramel layer. They were ideal with coffee.
I wanted to recreate them at home, but I found the process a bit daunting, so I let the recipe slip me by. Until I decided to bake them up for a friend's birthday. Baking something for someone you really care about makes scary steps seem a whole lot less scarier.
And while there are a lot of steps to this recipe – put aside a whole evening to make these – the ingredients aren't hard to find and it's actually quite easy to follow along with each step. There's a shortbread layer which is pretty easy. The chocolate glaze is a snap, especially if you have experience with using a double boiler or a bain marie (but I'm sure a microwave would make the whole thing even easier!).
The only tricky bit I found was making the caramel filling. That, was tough going. I first started making the caramel in a double boiler on the stove and it just wouldn't turn thick and caramel coloured. So I gave up and just used the microwave. Hooray for modern conveniences!
The only thing I did differently was add a good sprinkle of sea salt over the top of the bars after I added the chocolate glaze. I knew these were sweet and I felt they needed the salt to balance out the flavours.
While I made these as a birthday treat, these are perfect for your holiday baking. Impressive to look at and tasty to eat, who ever you give them to will be very, very happy.
Millionaire's Shortbread Bars
(recipe from the cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
28 ounces sweetened condensed milk (two 14-ounce cans)
6 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
sea salt, to sprinkle over top
For the shortbread:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. butter the bottom and sides of aa 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter together until blended. Add 2 cups of the flour and salt and beat until well combined. Add the egg yolk and beat for a few seconds, or until just combined.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough and your hands with a little flour. Use your hands to gently work the dough into a 6-by-6-inch square. You will have to turn the dough and sprinkle the top with flour as you go. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup flour on the surface of the dough. Fold the dough over and knead until incorporated, then flatten the dough into a rectangle. Transfer the rectangle to the prepared pan and press it into the pan.
Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake in the centre of the oven for 20 to 22 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
For the caramel filling:
Put the sweetened condensed milk in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cook on 50 percent power (medium) for 4 minutes, stirring briskly halfway through, until smooth.
Cook on 30 percent power (medium-low) for 12 to 18 minutes, until very thick and caramel colored, stirring briskly every 2 minutes, until smooth.
Pour the caramel filling over the cooled shortbread and place the pan in the refrigerator until cool, about two hours.
For the chocolate glaze:
In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly.
Pour the mixture over the chilled caramel layer and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer. Let the layer set slightly (about 2 minutes or so) and then sprinkle with sea salt. Put in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the glaze hardens.
Remove the pan from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving so as not to crack the chocolate glaze. Cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 4 days.