Brown Sugar Millionaire’s Shortbread

After Monday’s Chocolate Caramel debacle, I knew I needed to redeem myself. Or at least, redeem that caramel. (Picture me sitting at my kitchen table, arms crossed, finger tapping on chin.) Caramel, caramel, what can I do with caramel, one that tastes strongly of molasses… Ideas danced around in my head, most of which involved some sort of cookie base. It would need to be crumbly, and it should have a strong enough flavor to stand up to that molasses. And on top, to enclose the oozy caramel, should be a layer of plain chocolate. It didn’t occur to me until this morning, when I sat down to write up this post, that I was describing something very like a treat I discovered on a trip to Australia some years ago: Millionaire’s Shortbread.

This version uses brown sugar instead of white in the shortbread, which gives it strong enough shoulders to heft my intensely flavored caramel. And the chocolate on top is simple as can be: dark 70%, chopped fine, then sprinkled over the caramel while the pan was still warm.

For all that mishegoss, I’d call this a success. A redemption, even. It’s a grown-up cookie, a manly cookie, if that makes sense, not for the faint-hearted. Harry was excited to taste it, but while he didn’t spit it out, he didn’t ask for more, either. Bottom line: If you like bold flavors in your desserts, you’ll like this.

Brown Sugar Millionaire’s Shortbread
Makes 48 pieces

For the shortbread: (from Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri)
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 ¼ cups flour

For the caramel:
If you’re not looking for that unmistakable molasses flavor, use your favorite caramel recipe or a jar of prepared dulce de leche. If you are game for some molasses, use Amanda Hesser’s version of the chocolate caramel I blogged about.

For the chocolate layer:
7 ounces 70% dark chocolate, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 325. Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until it’s soft and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in flour by hand. The dough will be quite crumbly.

Dump the dough out into the prepared baking dish, and use your hands to press it gently over the bottom of the dish. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly smooth—the less you handle it, the better. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is dry and lightly golden.

Set it on a cooling rack, and immediately pour the caramel on top. Spread it evenly across the shortbread—the heat of the cookie will help. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top of the caramel and walk away for 5-10 minutes, until the chocolate melts, then smooth with a spatula.

Cool almost completely on countertop, and refrigerate if it seems to need help setting. Cut with a sharp paring knife.