So I was meant to post this recipe about 2 weeks ago, then I ended up getting the flu which turned into LARYNGITIS so I was basically sleeping all week. (Side note: losing my voice for a week made me realise how hard it is to live your life when you can’t speak. Like calling up a GP to make an appointment? Not an option. I ended up carrying a notepad into the surgery with me so I could make an appointment because I could barely even whisper. Nightmare). Then I had to catch up with all the uni I’d missed plus prepare for a group presentation we had on Friday. And now we’re here, a fortnight later, with these heavenly bites.
I remember the first time I’d made millionaire’s shortbread. It’s quite an easy recipe to make so it was one of the first things I’d made from a recipe I’d found myself. I’d taken the cookbook out of my school library and photocopied a bunch of things I wanted to make. After trying the shortbread out they became a favourite of mine and my brother’s for a while.
I hadn’t made them again in years but you know when you just get a very strong craving for something and you can’t stop thinking about it? Yeah that happened with these. Except this time I wanted a salty twist so I turned to pretzels (bonus = that extra crunch) and malted milk powder which has that salty twang to it.
Now I bet you can guess that a shortbread + caramel + chocolate concoction is gonna be rich af. I cut them into lots of little squares for this reason (which is also very aesthetically pleasing as you get a pretzel on the top of each bite). One thing to note is that unless you’re gonna eat them within 2 days, the pretzels will start to go stale. So if you’re making these to eat through the week I would advise pressing the pretzels into the caramel and then pouring the chocolate over the top to protect them for longer.
For the base:
- 80 g (1 scant cup) crushed pretzels
- 200 g (1 2/3 cups) wholemeal (whole wheat) plain flour
- 50 g (1/4 cup) light brown sugar
- 150 g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, , cold, cubed
For the caramel:
- 1 can (397g/14oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 100 g (scant 1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 80 g (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) light brown sugar
- 45 g (1/3 cup) malted milk powder
For the topping:
- 100 g (3.5oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), melted
- 30 pretzels
Make the base:
- Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Line a 20cm (8-inch) square baking tin with baking paper.
- Place the flour, sugar and butter into a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you get a mealy texture. Add the crushed pretzels and mix through into the mixture. Tip into the lined baking tin, spread it out in an even layer, then press down to make a smooth, even base. Bake for 15-20 minutes - until the top start to colour golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
For the caramel:
- While the base is baking, combine the caramel ingredients (sweetened condensed milk, butter, sugar, malted milk powder) in a medium pot. Place over a low heat and stir constantly (I like to use a silicone spatula) until the butter has melted. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil - keep stirring and cooking until the mixture has thickened and darkened slightly.
- Pour the warm caramel over the cooked shortbread base and spread out in an even layer. Set aside to cool completely.
For the topping:
- Once the caramel has cooled, pour the melted chocolate over it and spread out in an even layer. Decorate with the pretzels (I managed to fit a grid of 5 x 6 on but it'll depend on the size of your pretzels). Leave to cool and set before cutting into squares with a hot knife.