What is Caramel Shortbread?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2019
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Caramel shortbread is a type of layered cookie that consists of a bottom layer of traditional shortbread, topped with caramel sauce, then topped with chocolate. This is usually made in a single baking dish or pan, and once fully prepared and set, it can be cut into individual squares for serving. The shortbread recipe used can vary, and many people prefer to follow a recipe with which they are already familiar. Caramel shortbread is relatively simple to make, though some care must be taken at certain points in its preparation to ensure the proper consistency of each layer.

Often called “millionaire’s shortbread” or “caramel squares,” caramel shortbread is a treat that is likely Scottish in origin, though it has become quite popular throughout much of the UK and other areas. This treat begins with the bottom layer, which consists of a buttery shortbread commonly used as a cookie in its own right. Any shortbread recipe can be used, and most bakers prefer to use whichever recipe they tend to enjoy as a cookie without other topping. This ensures that the shortbread is able to stand on its own against the other two flavors that accompany it.


The dough for the caramel shortbread should be prepared in much the same way it would be made for individual cookies. Rather than separating the dough into cookies, however, the entire dough is pressed into the bottom of a baking dish or pan. This pan should be treated with butter or cooking spray and a piece of parchment to ensure easy removal of the caramel shortbread after baking. The shortbread is baked in the dish according to the necessary time and temperature for the shortbread itself, then removed from the oven and allowed to cool.

Once this is done, the caramel for the caramel shortbread can be prepared. This is typically done by melting butter and combining it with light corn syrup, sometimes called golden syrup, and sweetened condensed milk. Brown sugar can also be added, though not all recipes call for this. The mixture is then boiled lightly until a light golden brown color is achieved and the caramel is poured over the shortbread in the pan.

This is allowed to cool, at which point chocolate is melted and poured over the caramel. The caramel shortbread can then be topped with toasted almond slivers, vanilla-flavored sea salt, or left without further topping. Once the chocolate has cooled and set, the caramel shortbread is typically cut into squares and removed from the pan for storage or serving.


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