This recipe delivers all the layers of flavour you would expect from a millionaire shortbread, but it's also gluten free and full of fibre.
Everyone knows what a millionaire shortbread looks like but many people know it by different names, such as millionaire's slice, caramel slice and caramel squares.
The names might be different but the contents are the same, biscuity base, caramel centre and chocolate topping - delicious!
History of Millionaire's Shortbread
Some accounts trace the millionaire's shortbread back to 1970 Austria, however, a much more likely origin is right here in the UK, North of the English border in Scotland, home of the shortbread biscuits.
Shortbread biscuits have been made in Scotland for centuries, as far back as the 12th Century. Bakers added lard or butter to bread dough, even before the arrival of sugar. When sugar because a common ingredient in the UK, the shortbread recipe got an upgrade to a sweet biscuit, as we know it today.
Gluten free version fit for the 21st century
These days, almost every wheat-based baked treat has a gluten-free version, simply because so many more people are either coeliac, allergic or intolerant to wheat.
Gluten free products have come a long way since the days of powdery sub-standard imitations of wheat-based bakes. These days, some people will struggle to tell which products are actually gluten-free and that's not only because we have a better understanding of cooking or baking with alternative flours, but we also have a lot of other naturally gluten-free flours to experiment with.
This particular recipe is simply delicious and uses naturally gluten free flour mix (not shop bought). It tastes incredible when baked and the only difference is the bake isn't quite as crunchy as shortbread biscuits, but more like a nutty sponge.
Let's start with the caramel
Usually, you would start from the ground up. In the case of the millionaire's shortbread that would be shortbread first, then caramel and then the chocolate. However, I think it's best to get the caramel done first. The reason being, it's the most exciting part of the recipe but also the star of the show. When your guests see the gooey caramel sandwiched between the layers of biscuit and chocolate, your baking ratings will fly through the roof.
The caramel is the most difficult part of the recipe but also a lot more simple than you may think. The great thing about making caramel is you can make a nice load and just keep it in the fridge and break off a chunk whenever you want to use it in a recipe. It will keep in the fridge for up to a month. The high sugar content acts as a very robust preservative.
100g Unsalted Butter (salted butter if you want salted caramel).
150ml Double Cream (best quality possible)
200g Granulated Sugar
Method to make the caramel
Before you get started, make sure your butter is at room temperature and cut into nice squares. Set that aside and make sure it's close by for when you need it.
Start by adding the sugar to a saucepan, and set the heat to medium. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon. You will see the sugar form clumps before eventually melting into a thick brown liquid. Please be vert cautious when melting sugar, as the melted mixture is extremely hot and any contact with the skin will cause a serious burn.
Take even more precaution during this next step because some mixture may bubble up out of the pan. Once the sugar is all melted and there are no more clumps, quickly add the butter and keep string until melted and combined with the suage.
If the butter starts to split, it means the mixture is too hot. Remove from fire and stir vigorously until fully combined again.
Almost there now. The next step is to allow the sugar and butter mixture to boil away on a medium heat for a minute or two. Make sure it doesn't burn. You're looking for small boiling bubbles.
Now all that remains is to mix in the cream slowly. be careful because it will bubble up again. When the mixture is well combined, just leave to boil again for a minute or two. The mixture will rise quite a lot but don't be alarmed, that's what it's supposed to do.
After a minute of cooking, turn the heat off and slowly stir for another minute with no heat then leave to cool for 20 minutes or so.
Once cool, pour the caramel into a heat resistant container, cover and refrigerate. That caramel mixture is good for a whole month. Make sure to leave half the mixture in the pan because you're going to use it for the millionaire's shortbread.
Millionaire Shortbread Base Ingredients
As this is a gluten-free version of this popular baked treat, the base is won't be as crunchy as a traditional shortbread biscuit but it will taste even better, that's a promise!
Instead of wheat flour, the base of this millionaire's shortbread is made using a tasty and very healthy combination of almond and coconut flour.
Millionaire's shortbread base
120g Almond Flour
30g Coconut Flour
130g Unsalted Butter
100g Brown Caster Sugar
Tablespoon Flax Seed
Method to make the base.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees/gas mark 3. Now cream the butter and sugar together until well mixed and fluffy. A good wooden spoon is best, use an electric whisker if you prefer. Once well combined, pour in the milk and stir in gently.
Combine the almond flour, coconut flour and flaxseed in a separate bowl. Fold the dry mix into the sugar and butter. You're looking for a swidgey doughy mixture, that's firm but not too stiff.
Now grease the sides of a loose base baking tin with butter and place baking paper on the base. Add the mixture to the tin and you're going to need to use your hands here to flatten and push into edges.
It helps a lot to wet your hands before manipulating the base mixture to the base of the tin. This shouldn't take you more than 2 minutes. The base should be no thicker than 1 cm in height.
Place the mixture into the oven and bake for 30-40 mins until golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to completely cool.
Adding the caramel layer
Once the base is completely cooled it should be slightly soft to the touch but firm enough to hold the caramel mixture. Time to reheat that caramel you made earlier, but you're going to want to add a bit more cream to the mixture because when caramel cools, it hardens into almost toffee hardness. No one wants that in their millionaire's shortbread. Therefore we need to make the caramel softer.
Add small amounts of cream to the caramel and keep stirring until the consistency is like that of a pancake mix. Allow to cool off but not so cold that it starts to stiffen. Pour the mixture all over the base you made earlier. You're aiming for about half a centimetre thick.
Quickly transfer to the fridge and allow to cool for at least 4 hours. Once cool it should be stiff but not rock solid. Perfect, it's ready for the chocolate top.
Phew, we're staring down the finish line now, stay with it, I promise it's worth it. You will be making these again and again once you get the hang of it.
The chocolate layer
Making the chocolate layer is a piece of cake compared to the other two processes. Have a look at the ingredients below.
200g dark chocolate (70% minimum)
50g double cream
Add the cream to a saucepan on the lowest possible heat (very important). Too much heat can split the chocolate and there is no way back from that, aside from starting all over again with a fresh load of chocolate.
Don't wait for the cream to heat up, immediately break the chocolate into the pan then add the butter and keep stirring slowly but deliberately until the mixture is all combined.
As soon as the chocolate has all melted, remove from heat right away and keep stirring for 1 minute to make it silky smooth.
Drum roll... You're ready for the big finale. Remove the baking tin containing the base and caramel layer from the fridge. Savour the moment you slowly pour the melted chocolate all over the caramel layer and allow it to settle. I'm not going to tell you how thick the chocolate layer should be because that is all down to your love of chocolate.
All you need to do now is return to the fridge and allow at least 4 hours for the chocolate to solidify into a soft, creamy top layer.
Once fully set, you can remove the bake from the tin and slice it into nice squares or rectangles. Make them smallish because this stuff is super sweet and very rich. No more than 5 small bites per square is enough to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Make sure you have friends or family round for tea or save it for dessert when you're having guests around for dinner. These are just too good to eat on your own.
Enjoy baking and enjoy eating this most popular of baked goods. If you manage to boss this recipe, you'll deserve a nice pat on the back.