When I was a kid growing up in the north of England, Caramel Bars were my very favorite tea time treat. My Dad taught me to lick the top of the bar–and announce it loudly–so no one else would select the Caramel Bar before the plate got passed to me! It worked like a charm. Don’t laugh! You’ll be licking your own Caramel Bars shortly. Look at that picture I posted! Shortbread on the bottom, soft caramel in the middle, creamy milk chocolate on top; how can you resist?
Years after emigrating from England, I found Caramel Bars in the US packaged as “Twix Bars”. Twix Bars aren’t nearly as good as the homemade real thing, but they’ll do in a pinch. When I returned to England last spring, caramel bars seemed to be enjoying a resurgence. They were everywhere, but they had a new name, “Millionaire Bars”. I don’t know where that name came from. Nevertheless, these are still my favorite bar cookie. I’ve been making them since 1981 based on a recipe I got from a Marks and Spencer’s cookbook on a visit to England on my honeymoon. The cookbook is long gone, the marriage is long over, but the recipe remains.
My friends have been getting these in their Christmas cookie tins for years!
Caramel Bars (aka Millionaire Bars)
For the Shortbread Base
¾ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
With an electric mixer, beat the butter for about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat together until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping the sides often. Stir in the vanilla, salt and flour. Mixture will be very crumbly. Do not panic! Press crumbs into the bottom of a prepared 13×9 inch pan (and I do mean PRESS). Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until shortbread is a nice golden color. Remove from oven and let cool in pan.
For the Caramel Filling
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey or Lyle’s Golden Syrup
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
Place all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat gently until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Color will darken slightly, and you may get a few darker bits which should dissolve into mixture with some vigorous stirring. Remove from heat, stir well, and let cool for 1 minute. Pour caramel over cooled shortbread base. Let cool.
For the Topping
1 large (5 oz.) Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate Bar (or other favorite chocolate bar)
Melt chocolate in the microwave on 50% for 2 or 3 minutes. Pour melted chocolate over cooled caramel layer, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Let cool. Cut into squares of desired size. Think fudge! I cut my Caramel Bars into 1 inch squares. Mmmmmmm
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. You’re leaving with a great recipe! Come back again tomorrow!