If you've been looking for a fun, fancy treat to bring to your next cookout, look no further than my Vegan Million Dollar Bars, a.k.a. DIY Twix Cookie Bars. Featuring a crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth vegan shortbread base, a luscious layer of sticky date caramel that oozes with sweetness, and a rich topping of velvety dark chocolate, these millionaire bars are the epitome of dessert luxury!
Imagine the scene: you're hosting a pool party, the sun is shining, laughter fills the air, and you unveil a platter of these indulgent homemade Twix bars for dessert. As your guests take their first bite, their eyes widen with delight, and a chorus of "mmm"s fills the atmosphere. With each crumbly, caramel-filled, chocolate-coated bite, your guests will feel like they've stepped onto the set of Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.
What's even more exciting is that these heavenly morsels can be whipped up with just 10 inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients. Yep, you heard that right! No fancy or hard-to-pronounce substances here. I'm a firm believer that good food should be accessible to all, and these millionaire's shortbread bars are a testament to that philosophy. What I'm trying to say is, while this millionaire shortbread might taste like a million bucks, the ingredients needed to make it will only set you back a fiver.
What is Millionaire’s Shortbread?
Ah, millionaire's shortbread — a dessert that's as delightful as its name suggests! Picture a buttery, crumbly shortbread base that serves as the foundation for a generous layer of smooth, gooey caramel. And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, a thick blanket of luxurious dark chocolate is lovingly poured on top, emulating a giant Twix bar.
The name alone hints at its lavish nature, but fear not, for you don't need a fortune to enjoy this sweet homemade treat. It's a slice of heaven that combines humble ingredients to create a truly extraordinary treat. So, treat yourself to a taste of luxury and experience the magic of these Million Dollar Bars — a dessert that's sure to make you feel like a million bucks!
As promised, you only need 10 simple ingredients to make this vegan millionaire shortbread recipe. Here’s what to grab:
Vegan Shortbread Layer:
- Powdered Sugar - This is an essential ingredient for giving your shortbread the perfect crumbly consistency. If you’re fresh out, you can easily make your own using granulated sugar and cornstarch or potato starch!
- Vegan Butter - I use Earth Balance, but any vegan butter brand that you prefer will work just fine.
- Vanilla Extract - For rich warmth and complexity. Feel free to experiment with other extracts if you like. Almond would be delicious, especially if you choose to add toasted nuts to your caramel layer!
- All-Purpose Flour - Plain flour is perfect here. You should be able to swap in your favorite all-purpose GF flour blend if you choose one that has xanthan gum in the mix.
- Salt - Because salty sweets are the best kind!!
Date Caramel Layer, you’ll also need:
- Dates - It’s no wonder these little beauties are often called nature’s candy! I prefer Medjool dates, whose natural sweetness and sticky texture make them ideal for creating a luscious and gooey caramel consistency without the need for refined sugars or dairy products.
- Almond Milk - This is my milk of choice. You’re welcome to swap in and unsweetened plain or vanilla-flavored plant-based milk you like!
- Coconut Oil - If you like the flavor of coconuts, use unrefined coconut oil. If you’re not a fan, refined coconut oil tastes totally neutral.
- Lemon Juice - Lemon juice plays a vital role in date caramel by adding a touch of acidity and brightness to balance the sweetness of the dates. I think fresh lemons taste best, but you can use bottled if you need.
Vegan Chocolate Layer, grab:
- Vegan Chocolate Chips - I use the Enjoy Life brand because it’s easy to find, but any vegan chocolate will work here! Feel free to use bar chocolate if you prefer, or swap in milk or dark chocolate for semi-sweet.
While this Millionaire’s shortbread recipe might have a lot of steps and take a bit of time, I promise: they’re all super easy! The hardest part is having patience as each layer sets up. Here’s how it’s done:
- Preheat oven to 350° and line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.
- Soak dates in warm water before making the shortbread layer.
- Make the shortbread layer - With a hand mixer, beat together the sugar, butter, and vanilla extract until fluffy. Slowly add flour and salt and beat on low just until the mixture is combined. Be careful to not overmix, the dough will be crumbly. Spread the dough evenly into your prepared pan and prick with a fork several times. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are slightly brown. Let it cool completely before adding the caramel layer on top.
- Make the caramel layer - Drain dates and add them along with the rest of the ingredients (almond milk, coconut oil, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt) to a food processor or blender. Combine until you have a gooey caramel texture. You can add a little more almond milk if it is too thick. Once the shortbread layer has completely cooled, spread the caramel evenly overtop. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Make the chocolate layer - Melt the chocolate chips in 30-second intervals in the microwave until completely melted through. Pour evenly over the chilled caramel layer. Refrigerate for 20 minutes until the chocolate has set.
- Cut into 16 squares to serve and enjoy!
- To line your pan perfectly with parchment paper, spray nonstick spray directly onto the pan. This will allow the parchment paper to stick to the pan. Rip off a sheet of parchment paper that is an inch or two larger than your pan. Cut a diagonal line in each corner that is an inch or two long. These cuts will allow the parchment paper to fold over itself in the corner and create a barrier between your baked good and the pan.
- If you use fresh lemons for the date caramel, get every last bit of goodness out of them! First, wash, dry, and zest the lemons, grabbing only the brightest yellow parts (the white pith is quite bitter). Next, firmly roll the lemons on the countertop for 10-15 seconds before slicing them open to help release as much juice as possible. After juicing them, use the spent citrus halves to refresh your cutting boards, deodorize your garbage disposal, or flavor a pitcher of spa water.
- Remember the three secrets to cutting perfect millionaire bar squares:
- allow the bars to come to room temperature,
- run your knife under hot water, and
- wipe your knife clean after each cut.
While both desserts share a similar foundation of crumbly shortbread, rich caramel, and chocolate, Billionaire's Shortbread takes indulgence to new heights by adding another luxurious layer like a creamy ganache, edible cookie dough, or creamy nut butter.
Caramel Shortbread and Millionaire's Shortbread are often used interchangeably to refer to the same delightful dessert. The term "Millionaire's Shortbread" is more commonly used in the UK, whereas "Caramel Shortbread" is a broader term that may or may not include the chocolate layer.
Because these bars are egg-free and dairy-free, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to five days. Store them in an airtight container so your shortbread and caramel retain their textures.
Yes, these shortbread bars freeze very well! Once they are fully cooled and set, wrap each millionaire's bar individually in plastic wrap. Freeze for up to three months. When ready to serve, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator.
As much as I love this vegan millionaire bar recipe, there’s plenty of room for you to add your own twist. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Caramel Add-Ins - For even more texture and flavor, consider adding some chopped toasted nuts or seeds to the caramel mixture.
- Toppings - Give the tops of your vegan Twix bars a bit more pizazz with a sprinkle of Maldon salt, some crushed pretzels, colorful sprinkles, or toasted coconut.
- Gluten-Free Millionaire Shortbread Bars - While I haven’t tried it, reason leads me to believe you can easily swap in your favorite gluten-free cup-for-cup all-purpose flour mixture to make this million-dollar bar recipe work for all your celiac friends. Just make sure to let the shortbread dough rest for 30 minutes before baking to give the flour time to rehydrate. If you skip this step, you risk a gritty consistency!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
If you’re still on the fence about this vegan million dollar bars recipe, I’m not sure what else will convince you! These tasty 3-layer bars are:
- Made With Only 10 Ingredients - And they’re all easy to locate at any major grocery store.
- Rich & Delicious - They’re salty-sweet, crunchy and chewy, and gobsmackingly tasty. Seriously, friends. Just try one.
- Perfect For Sharing - Everything is made in one tray, then you can slice them into whatever size you need for your gathering!
Looking for more vegan chocolate treats like this? Try these: