This vegan version of the classic bake, Millionaire’s shortbread, is just as good as the original. With a creamy layer of carnation caramel made using carnation’s vegan condensed milk, a crumbly shortbread base and a thick layer of dark chocolate on top.
Making vegan caramel/dulce de leche:
Usually the caramel in millionaire’s shortbread relies on the proteins in the condensed milk reacting with the sugars in what is called the Maillard reaction to form those toasty flavours. That plus caramelisation of sugar help to darken the mixture and forms the gooey texture.
Here, the vegan condensed milk is much lower in protein so an extra source of protein is needed in the form of soya cream (which also helps to provide some richness).
The added cornflour also makes up for the lessened protein content and provides some extra ‘body’ and thickening properties to the caramel so that it sets up properly and has a nice fudgy texture.
One thing that is super important to the texture is cooking the caramel until it reaches 116°C – at this point the caramel is thick enough that it will set firm but not rock solid when cooled. If you undercook the caramel it is likely to be too runny! If you overcook it, it may become brittle and hard to chew so make sure you do use a cooking thermometer to test it.
Making vegan shortbread:
The shortbread base is a very easy one to veganise; classic shortbread is just flour, sugar and butter with many manufactured ‘shortbread’ biscuits opting for margarine instead of butter to cut down on costs. So all we have to do is use a vegan ‘butter’/margarine in place of the dairy butter and you get a deliciously crumbly, buttery biscuit base.
The vegan block butter I prefer to use is the Naturli brand as it has a really firm texture. You can use Stork or Flora’s plant-based butter blocks.
However do NOT use a tub margarine. It won’t be a disaster but you’ll likely end up with a slightly greasy and less melt-in-the-mouth shortbread. This is because the fat content of tub margarine tends to be lower, especially the saturated fat content, thanks to a higher proportion of water and the inclusion of vegetable oils. The higher fat content of block butter helps to give us the ‘shortest’ texture to the shortbread and best mouthfeel.
I found the shortbreads to be best eaten within a few days of making as the shortbread starts to get a bit soft and the caramel starts to crystallise a bit if you leave them for too long. Keep them in an airtight container at room temp.
If you don’t think you can eat them all / share them all before they start to turn, check out the small batch option below.
Small batch vegan millionaire’s shortbread
If you want to make a smaller batch, halve all the ingredients (you can just freeze the remaining vegan condensed milk for another time) and make the bars in a 2lb loaf tin instead of a square tin. Alternatively, use a piece of foil to ‘divide’ your square cake tin in half.
You’ll need to bake the shortbread base for 15-20 minutes instead of the usual 20-30 minutes. Everything else should be the same.
Vegan Millionaire’s Shortbread
- 175 g (1 1/2 cups) plain white flour (all-purpose flour)
- 50 g (1/2 cup) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 125 g (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) vegan butter (I like Naturli), cubed
- pinch of salt
- 125 g (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) vegan butter
- 125 g (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
- 370 g (13 ounces) Carnation Vegan Condensed Milk Alternative
- 75 ml (5 tbsp) vegan soya cream (I like Alpro)
- 30 g (3 tbsp) cornflour (cornstarch)
- pinch of salt
- 200 g (7 ounces) vegan dark chocolate (I like a 70%)
- pinch of sea salt flakes
For the shortbread:
- Preheat the oven to 160°C fan (320°F fan) or 180°C non-fan (350°F non-fan). Line a 20cm (8-inch) square baking tin with a sling of baking paper and set aside.
- Place the flour, icing sugar, vegan butter and salt into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingertips. The mixture should look crumbly at first and then will come together to form a ball.175 g (1 1/2 cups) plain white flour, 50 g (1/2 cup) icing sugar, 125 g (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) vegan butter, pinch of salt
- Crumble the dough into the base of the lined tin and press down into an even layer. Prick all over with a fork and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.
For the caramel:
- Meanwhile, start on the caramel. Combine the butter, light brown sugar and condensed milk alternative in a medium pot. In a small bowl, mix the soya cream, cornflour and salt until you get a smooth paste. Add the paste to the pot and mix until smooth.125 g (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) vegan butter, 125 g (1/2 cup) light brown sugar, 370 g (13 ounces) Carnation Vegan Condensed Milk Alternative, 75 ml (5 tbsp) vegan soya cream, 30 g (3 tbsp) cornflour
- Place the pot on a medium heat, stirring very often, until the mixture reaches 116°C (240°F) on a thermometer (i.e. soft ball stage). This will take about 10-15 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes to thicken.
- Pour the caramel all over the baked shortbread base and spread out into an even layer. Leave to cool (you can do this at room temp or in the fridge/freezer if you want to speed things up) until set.
- Melt the chocolate in a small, heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (or in the microwave). Spread the chocolate in an even layer over the caramel and rap the tin against the counter top a few times to help the chocolate settle evenly. Sprinkle with salt, if using, and set aside until completely set (again you can leave at room temp or pop in the fridge/freezer).200 g (7 ounces) vegan dark chocolate, pinch of sea salt flakes
- Run a hot butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen then lift the whole thing out with the sling of baking paper. Cut int 16 squares using a sharp knife – for really clean cuts, use a knife dipped in very hot water and wiped dry between cuts.
- Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week.