Millionaires Bars are one thing I love to eat, and who wouldn't? Shortbread, caramel and chocolate...my idea of heaven! For some reason, however, I have never made them. I was given a reason to this weekend as my husband has been asking for them fairly often, since seeing a picture of them online.
He helped me to put a shelf up, if I promised to make the bars, so here we go...
When I went to the pantry to get the brown sugar, I saw the very few pecans that were sitting there and made a decision to use them in the bars. I ended up using them in the shortbread crust, which gave a lovely rich, nutty flavour to the base.
Believe it or not, I also had exactly enough butter left to make these. Some things are meant to be...
Oh, and as I was making the ganache I had a request to add rum, which I did.
These bars were a perfect combination of nutty, crisp and buttery shortbread topped with a sweet caramel and finished off with a creamy, rum infused dark chocolate ganache. I think I know why I've never made them before....the temptation to have yet another one has been with me ever since the first bite!
To begin, line an 8" square baking pan with foil and lightly grease the sides to prevent the caramel layer from sticking.
Turn the oven on to 350F.
To make the crust, combine the following in a food processor:
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans halves
Process until the nuts are finely ground.
Empty into a bowl.
Mix in until the dough starts to form clumps:
4 ounces melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Press the pecan shortbread evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake until the crust is fully baked, and the edges are starting to colour, 18 - 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow the crust to cool completely.
To make the caramel filling, combine the following in a heavy bottomed saucepan:
1 can condensed milk
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
60g brown sugar
Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly until the butter has melted and the sugar is dissolved. It is important to stir this the whole time as it can scorch very easily because of the high amount of sugar in the condensed milk. It is worth the effort though!
When the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted increase the heat to medium high and continue to cook and stir.
The caramel will start to darken and thicken as it cooks. Mine took between 15 - 18 minutes to reach the right consistency: thick enough that if you drag the spatula through the mixture it is slow to come back together.
Immediately scrape the caramel out of the pan and onto the cooled base, using the spatula or a spoon to spread it evenly.
DO NOT TOUCH THE CARAMEL - IT IS VERY HOT AND WILL BURN YOU!!!
Place the pan into the fridge until the caramel has cooled completely.
To make the ganache, place all the ingredients into a heat proof bowl:
5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons dark rum
Place the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water, and allow the chocolate to melt slowly, stirring until you have a smooth, silky ganache.
Using a towel, remove the bowl from the pot, drying the bottom as you do so.
Pour the ganache over the cooled caramel and tilt the pan, allowing it to spread evenly.
Return the bars to the fridge and leave until the ganache has set, at least a couple of hours.
To serve, carefully lift the foil out of the pan, and gently peel the foil away from the sides of the bar. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars or squares.
- Nuts or no nuts in the crust: it is completely up to you. If you choose no nuts, increase the amount of flour by 2 tablespoons. If you choose nuts, any type of nut can be used; be sure to measure the nuts whole / pieces not ground.
- White sugar can be used instead of brown for both the crust and the caramel.
- Coconut can be added to the crust instead of nuts for a tropical flavour; orange zest would also be a nice addition.
- You can use purchased caramel or dulce de leche for the caramel filling to save time.
- The caramel can be flavoured with the addition of instant coffee granules or espresso powder; vanilla; orange zest.
- Toast and roughly chop some pecans and fold them into the caramel before pouring it onto the crust.
- To make the ganache without the rum, simply use whipping cream instead of rum. Other liqueurs can be used if you wish.
- For a different presentation, swirl the ganache over the caramel, leaving some of it exposed.