Soft, buttery, crumbly shortbread cookie base that’s spiced with ginger and warming spices, and then covered in smooth, creamy vanilla caramel and semi-sweet chocolate layers. These Spiced Ginger Millionaires’ Shortbread Cookie Bars (Spiced Ginger Twix Bars) are the most decadent and addictive treat you’ll have this festive season!
Growing up, my family never celebrated Christmas, although we definitely enjoyed the spirit of the holidays. Family dinners and get togethers happened, and considering those were the only times I was allowed to consume a bit of alcohol as a kid, I had even more reason to enjoy ’em.
And food played a very important part during the holidays, as it often does. I’ve been trying to recapture a bit of that spirit by going on a baking spree these last two weeks and one thing that I just can’t get enough of, is COOKIES (or biscuits as we used to call them). As a kid, I was the girl who ate only the cookies that had chocolate on ’em from the cookie assortment box and left everything else untouched. Yep, I knew what I wanted and I went for it. I had conviction even as a kid. Even if it only applied to cookies.
And one type of cookie that always had a special place in my heart were cookies with caramel and chocolate. So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I also love Twix bars! 🙂 And I bring you guys the homemade version of that today – Millionaires Shortbread Cookies, or caramel squares, or caramel shortbreads, or caramel crowns or whatever you want to call them! It’s the absolutely divine combination of soft, crumbly, buttery shortbread cookie, smooth caramel and luscious chocolate. Maybe that’s why they call it that. It’s like the only time you’re going to feel like a millionaire while eating a candy bar. Unless of course, you know, you are a millionaire.
So we all agree that it’s rich, decadent and tastes incredible right? But could you make it better? You’re damn right, you could. How about kicking it up a notch with some gingerbread flavours to make Spiced Ginger Millionaires Shortbread Cookie Bars? Here I made an incredibly soft, crumbly spiced ginger shortbread cookie base that incorporates ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. That’s basically all the flavours of gingerbread, sans molasses. Then I topped it with a smooth, delectable vanilla caramel layer and a semi-sweet chocolate layer. Yup, I made spiced ginger twix candy bars, and I’m not even sorry. 🙂 And the best part? These are surprisingly easy to make too! Perfect for gift-giving this holiday season. Or to indulge with a cup of coffee. That sounds more like me anyway.
I modified my recipe for Cardamom Orange Melting Moments for the base in these millionaires shortbread cookie bars. I just loved how soft, crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth those cookies were, and I really wanted to use that texture for the base here. So this base isn’t going to be crunchy, it’s a more crumbly and buttery base. It’s delicate, so you have to be just a little careful when you handle the base. I actually cracked mine a little while trying to move it.
The vanilla caramel layer is buttery, soft and delicious. It’s not too chewy and totally addictive. And it’s really easy to make if you have a candy thermometer (it’s really not intimidating at all, even with the candy thermometer 🙂 ). But if you don’t have one, you can buy soft caramels and then heat and melt them instead.
I used compound chocolate to cover the cookie + caramel bars here. I love using couverture chocolate, but compound chocolate is easier to find and less finicky to work with. But of course if you can get your hands on some couverture chocolate, you should totally go for it. That wonderful creamy flavour and the sheen and snap you get with couverture chocolate are hard to beat.
And finally, a dusting of gold luster petal dust on the candy bars, because you know, it’s the festive season after all.
Spiced Ginger Millionaires Shortbread Cookie Bars
Spiced Ginger Shortbread Cookie Base
- 255 g / 9oz flour
- 225 g / 8oz butter
- 75 g / 2.6oz cornflour
- 85 g / 3 oz icing sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 ½ tsp ground ginger powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
Vanilla Caramel Layer
- 400 g / 14.1oz white sugar
- 1 ½ cups / 360mL cream
- ¾ cup / 180mL corn syrup
- 56 g/ 2oz unsalted butter
- ½ tsp salt flakes I used Maldon
- 1 vanilla bean seeds scraped or 1 tbsp vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
- 400 g / 14.1oz semi-sweet chocolate tempered (if you're using compound chocolate - melt the chocolate until just melted, and let it cool till it’s thick, yet smooth)
- Gold petal luster dust
Spiced Ginger Shortbread Cookie Base
- Butter an 8x8 cake tray. Line it with parchment paper with a generous overhang, so that it'll be easier to remove from the tray.
- Cream the butter, salt and sugar until light and fluffy. Add all the spices and salt, and mix through.
- Sift the flour and cornflour together in a separate bowl. Add this to the butter mix in two batches, mixing between each addition, until just combined.
- Bring the dough together to form a ball, and fold over 4-6 times until you get a smooth dough.
- Press the dough into the base of the prepared cake tray, making sure it's even.
- Leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes for it to rest and set. In the meantime, preheat oven 350°F/180°C.
- Remove from the fridge and bake in the preheated oven for 25- 30 minutes, until the surface is a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool down completely. Make the caramel AFTER the cookie base has cooled down.
- Combine the sugar, corn syrup, cream and salt in a large saucepan. Make sure there's PLENTY of room for the sugar to bubble up - it’s best to use a large saucepan with high sides so that the sugar won’t bubble over when boiling.
- Heat over medium-heat to melt the sugar, stirring occasionally.
- Once the sugar has melted, clip on the sugar thermometer and increase the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil. DO NOT STIR. Let it heat until it reaches 260°F/126°C.
- Remove from the heat immediately and add the butter and vanilla and stir through until the butter melts completely and distributes evenly throughout the caramel.
- Lightly butter the sides of the cake tray again (so that the caramel won’t stick to the sides), and pour the caramel over the shortbread cookie base. Give it a slight shake to spread the caramel layer evenly.
- Let it cool to room temperature and then set completely in the fridge for a few hours - I kept it overnight.
- Have the tempered chocolate and a wire rack over a clean sheet pan ready.
- Gently loosen the shortbread cookie and caramel layers out of the tray (run a sharp knife along the sides to do this). Gently flip this out on to a parchment paper, and cut squares (I cut 16 squares) using a bread knife. Use a sawing motion to cut through the cookie layer and then a quick, firm downward motion to cut through the caramel. Place them on the wire rack with the caramel side up.
- Pour tempered chocolate over each square and using a knife or spatula, spread it over the top and on the sides. Place the squares on a parchment paper and refrigerate until the chocolate sets. Using gold petal luster dust, dust and paint streaks over the set chocolate. These can be stored at room temperature (if completely covered), or in the fridge.
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These millionaires shortbread cookie bars have everything going for them. That wonderful contrast of textures with the buttery, crumbly shortbread cookie layer and the soft, slightly chewy caramel layer and the cold, hard snap of the chocolate layer on top. And then of course you have all those amazing flavours. The ginger shortbread cookie layer spiced with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, topped with slightly salted vanilla caramel layer and semi-sweet chocolate that tempers the sweetness of the caramel. I seriously love that warmth, that spicy kick you get from the ginger and all the spices in the shortbread cookie layer. The vanilla caramel is also soft, buttery and melts in your mouth with minimal effort. Just the way I like it. These are insanely addictive, you better believe it! 🙂
The simple twist here was the addition of those warming spices that are characteristic of gingerbread cookies, but it makes a huge difference in flavour. If you like Twix, you’re going to love this! 🙂
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