I was practically a kid the last time I had one of ’em millionaire bars… I’d barely just entered my twenties, if I remember correctly.
To be honest, I’d almost forgotten that they even existed, until the other day, when I grabbed one of my favorite chocolate recipe books of the time. A time which happened WAY before the Internet, when cookbooks, magazines and cooking shows were practically your only options if you were looking for a little bit of culinary inspiration.
I remember just how much I used to love sitting myself down with a pile of cookbooks back then. Even though I didn’t cook or bake much at the time, or well, not from scratch, anyway, I would take great pleasure in flipping through the pages, for hours on end, just for the mere satisfaction of watching all the beautiful pictures (most of which I don’t find all that great anymore: it’s pretty crazy how much food photography and styling has changed since! Plus, I didn’t have as much of a “critical” eye in those days… )
So anyway, while checking out that old chocolate cookbook of mine, I stumbled upon a recipe for what they referred to as “Dixie Bars”. The things looked very similar to Millionaire Bars, except the middle layer was made with sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and chopped pecans. I was totally inspired, but the pecans sort of put me off; I *think* I’m not a fan of nuts in my caramel. I say I think because I’m not too sure.
Don’t get me wrong, I love nuts, I adore them even. But sometimes, especially when I’m feasting on something that is expected to feel blissfully smooth and silky and velvety in my mouth, like chewy caramel, toffee or fudge for instance, I feel that nuts tend to sort of get in the way… my teeth appreciate them, but they somehow kind of ruin the experience for my palate. Or maybe it’s just that they’re too healthy and my brains think that they don’t belong?
Am I weird? I’m weird!
So anyway (that’s the second time today, isn’t it? Alright, I’ll get to the point, promise) the recipe in question inspired me but I decided to change it up a lot: I added brown sugar, heavy cream and butter to the caramel layer, to make it more flavorful, chewy and decadent. Then, obviously, I lost the pecans so my palate could focus solely on the smooth silkiness of the chewy toffee center.
Of course, me being me, I also made modifications to the rest of the recipe, like using a soft and buttery shortbread cookie (that literally melts in your mouth) for the base and adding a little bit of butter to the top chocolate layer, to make it more supple and rich in flavor.
Then, I topped the whole thing with deliciously irresistible tidbits of crunchy toffee. I know, I know… they’re crunchy, kind of like nuts, but the thing is, unlike nuts, they’re not in your face at all and greatly complement the overall texture of the bars. Plus, not healthy! There. I said it.
These Multi-Millionaire Bars, they’re like Millionaire Bars, only kicked up a few notches. Hence the “Multi”… get it? Okay, maybe I should quit trying to be funny and stick to writing recipes, instead.
But seriously, I’m telling you: make these bars. Just one bite and you’ll feel like you’ve won the lottery! (get it?)
Okay, I’m out. For realz this time.
Check the recipe.
Step-by-step instructions with pictures immediately follow recipe
- 1-1/2 cup (192g | 6.8oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (28g | 1oz) corn starch
- 1/3 cup (65g | 2.3oz) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (240g | 8.5oz) butter, softened
- 1 can (300ml | 14oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 3/4 cup (150g | 5.3oz) packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (180g | 6oz) butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (120ml) dark corn syrup
- 1 tsp salt (I use Himalayan salt)
- 1-1/2 cup (270g | 9.5oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp butter, softened
- 2-3 tbsp toffee bits (optional)
- Grease and line a 9"x 9" baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a bit of an overhang on either side for easy removal of the bars.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and sugar and mix with a whisk until fully combined. Add the softened butter and mix well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just combined.
- Spread this cookie batter evenly onto the bottom of the prepared baking pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges just barely start to turn brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the shortbread cookie base is in the oven, combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and place it over medium heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the caramel takes a beautiful amber color and starts to thicken.
- Remove from heat, continue stirring for 3 full minutes and then pour over the reserved crust. Refrigerate until set, about an hour.
- Place the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute, allow to rest for 1 minute and then stir for 1 full minute. If there are still lumps of unmelted chocolate left after that, repeat the process as many times as necessary, but for no more than 20 seconds at a time. The chocolate should be completely melted but should barely feel warm to the touch.
- Pour the melted chocolate over the caramel layer and spread evenly to cover completely.
- Sprinkle toffee bits over melted chocolate, if using.
- Place the bars in the refrigerator until completely chilled, at least 3 hours but preferably overnight. Lift the bars out of the pan by pulling gently on the parchment paper; cut into squares and enjoy!
- These bars are quite rich, so you might want to keep those squares on the small side!
- Keep airtight, refrigerated or in a cool dry place, for up to a week.
STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS AND PICTURES
MAKE THE SHORTBREAD COOKIE LAYER
Preheat your oven to 350°F
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and sugar and mix with a whisk until fully combined.
Add the softened butter…
…and mix well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just combined.
Spread this cookie batter evenly onto the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
If you happen to own one of those small offset spatulas, now would be a great time to take it out. It works wonders to smoothen out the top of the cookie base, since it fits completely inside the pan.
Bake the cookie crust for 15 minutes, or until the edges just barely start to turn brown; remove from the oven and set aside.
MAKE THE CHEWY CARAMEL LAYER
While the shortbread cookie base is in the oven, combine the sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, brown sugar, butter, dark corn syrup and salt in a medium saucepan and place it over medium heat.
Slooooooowly bring to a boil…
Once the mixture starts to boil, lower the heat to medium-low and continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes…
…until the caramel takes a beautiful amber color and starts to thicken.
When your caramel has reached the desired color and consistency, remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring for 3 full minutes…
Pour the hot caramel over the reserved crust.
The caramel will still be pretty supple at this point, so it should pretty much spread all the way to the edge by itself, without your assistance. Should you find that it needs a little help, though, tilt the pan slightly from side to side or give it a gentle jiggle.
Refrigerate until set, about an hour.
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE TOPPING
Place the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute, allow to rest for 1 minute and then stir for 1 full minute.
If there are still lumps of unmelted chocolate left after that, repeat the process as many times as necessary, but for no more than 20 seconds at a time. The chocolate should be completely melted but should barely feel warm to the touch.
Pour the melted chocolate over the caramel layer…
…and spread evenly to completely cover the caramel .
Sprinkle the toffee bits over melted chocolate, if using.
If you can’t get your hands on those addictive and totally delicious little toffee bits, you could also use mini chocolate chips or even (dare I say it?) chopped nuts. But something definitely has to be said for those little tidbits of crunchy caramel!
Now place the bars in the refrigerator until they are completely chilled, at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.
Lift the bars out of the pan by pulling gently on the parchment paper; cut into squares of the desired size.
I cut mine into 25 bars: 5 down and 5 across, but feel free to cut yours whichever size you prefer. Keep in mind that these multi-millionaire bars are quite rich (pun definitely intended), so you might want to keep those squares on the small side!
Keep your finished bars in an airtight container, either in the refrigerator (for a real chewy delight) or in a cool dry place (for a softer, creamier treat), where they will keep for up to a week.