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This vegan millionaire shortbread starts with a buttery, soft shortbread layer, then a layer of gooey vegan caramel, then it's topped with a creamy 2 ingredient vegan chocolate ganache! They are easy to make, and I've included two different vegan caramel options and a no bake option!
I have been testing these vegan millionaires shortbread bars for MONTHS. I almost gave up but I'm so glad I didn't because these bars are so worth it!
They are buttery, rich and decadent from the gooey caramel, and topped with a rich chocolate ganache. I've provided 2 options for caramel (one is nut free and made on the stove, and the other is coconut free and comes together in less than a minute in one bowl).
Why These Vegan Millionaire Shortbread Bars Work
- These bars are easy to make and even though there are 3 layers, they come together quicker than you'd think!
- This recipe requires only simple, easy to find ingredients so anyone can make it.
- For the caramel layer, I've provided 2 versions - one nut free and made on the stovetop with coconut milk, and another that requires no heat and is made with peanut butter.
- Technically, if you heat treat your flour and don't bake the cookie, these can also be made as no bake millionaires shortbread bars since there are no eggs in the shortbread. I personally love cookie dough (of course), so I love making the no bake version of these bars.
- Butter: You can use any kind of vegan butter, or if you don't follow a vegan diet you can even use regular butter.
- Chocolate Chips: I prefer to use semisweet chocolate chips since it balances out the sweetness of the caramel, but you use any kind of vegan chocolate you'd like. You can also use vegan baking chocolate instead of chocolate chips.
- Nut butter: If making the no-cook vegan caramel, you can use any type of smooth nut butter that you'd like (natural works fine too). I personally like to make it with regular Kraft smooth/creamy peanut butter.
- Maple syrup: The nut butter caramel requires maple syrup, but you can substitute with agave syrup as well.
- Full fat coconut cream for the caramel: Canned coconut cream is required for the second version of caramel, made on the stove. You can also use the thick white cream from canned coconut milk.
- Full fat coconut cream for the ganache: The ganache will be creamiest with full fat coconut cream, but you can use other non dairy milks if that's all you have. The chocolate will crack a little more when using other types of vegan milk.
Step By Step Instructions
STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350° F and line an 8x8 baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving some hanging over all 4 sides so that you can easily remove the bars from the pan.
STEP TWO: Prepare the shortbread crust by beating powdered sugar and softened butter in a bowl. Mix in the flour and salt until combined, then press the shortbread layer firmly into an even layer covering the bottom of the pan. Bake for 9-13 minutes or until edges are slightly golden.
STEP THREE: Allow the shortbread to cool for a few minutes, then place it in the fridge while you prepare the caramel layer. If using the nut butter method (option 1), stir peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and melted coconut oil together in a bowl until smooth.
To make nut free caramel (option 2), add coconut cream and brown sugar to a pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. When it boils, turn the heat down to medium low and let the caramel simmer for 7-10 minutes (photos are further down in the post under Vegan Caramel Option 2).
STEP FOUR: Pour the caramel over the shortbread, spreading it evenly over the cookie layer. Place in the freezer for at least 10-15 minutes, or until set.
STEP FIVE: Add chocolate chips and coconut cream/milk to a pan over medium heat and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate layer over top of the caramel and put the bars back in the freezer.
Vegan Caramel: Two Ways
I tested this vegan caramel COUNTLESS times, and in the end I had two delicious options that I just couldn't choose between, so I'm giving you both!
Option 1: Nut butter Base
This caramel is the easier of the two options, because all you'll have to do is throw all the ingredients into a bowl, mix it up, and it's ready! This version does have a nut flavor, especially if you use peanut butter. If I'm being honest, this is my favorite of the two caramels because I love peanut butter and I just love the slight peanut butter taste it gives the millionaire bars!
(Photos of the nut butter caramel are in the collage above under Step by Step Instructions)
Option 2: Coconut Cream Base (Nut Free)
This caramel is made using brown sugar and coconut cream. It takes about 10 minutes on the stove and is gooey like a traditional caramel! It does have a bit of a coconut flavor though, so if you don't like coconut you'll probably want to go for the first version!
FAQs and Expert Tips
This recipe hasn't been tested with gluten free flour so I can't say for sure how it will turn out, but if you want to try it I would suggest using gluten free 1-1 baking flour.
Yes! I LOVE making these as no bake bars! They do crumble a bit more when you cut into them, but they are so delicious.
I recommend heat treating your flour before making them (this kills potentially harmful bacteria that can grow on the flour). To heat treat your flour, microwave more than the recipe calls for (around ¼ cup- ⅓ cup more) it in a bowl or pour it on a baking tray and baking at 350°F for 5 minutes. Let the flour cool, then make the shortbread as instructed, press the dough into the pan and place it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before topping with caramel.
These bars are, by nature, a bit crumbly when you cut into them, but they shouldn't fall apart. If they are falling apart completely, the shortbread was likely overcooked or the flour was over-measured.
Yes! This recipe, when doubled, will fit perfectly in a 9x13 pan.
- Properly measure your flour - too much flour in the shortbread will lead to a cookie that is dry and crumbly (no one wants that!). I highly recommend a $10 kitchen scale or use the proper fluff, scoop, and level method.
- Don't over-bake the shortbread layer - The bars should be baked until they have just started to turn slightly golden on the edges, but should not be dark (photos above in Step by Step section for reference).
- The nut free caramel should be made with full fat coconut milk or coconut cream - unfortunately coconut water on its own won't work.
- Be sure to let the caramel layer set in the freezer so that it is slightly firm to the touch before pouring the chocolate ganache over top.
These bars can be stored for up to a week tightly covered in the fridge. I recommend bringing them to room temperature before eating (this takes around 5-10 minutes), since the chocolate and caramel will firm up quite a bit in the fridge, but you can also enjoy them cold.
MORE VEGAN RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE
Vegan Millionaires Shortbread
- 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup vegan butter, softened
- ¾ cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
Caramel Layer Option 1: Nut Butter Caramel
Caramel Layer Option 2: Coconut Milk Caramel
- 1½ cup full fat canned coconut cream *SEE NOTES
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1⅓ cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips (or vegan baking chocolate)
- 4-5 tablespoon canned coconut cream (or other non dairy milk)
- Line an 8x8 baking sheet with parchment paper. Leave some parchment hanging over all sides to make it easy to remove the bars later. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Use a standing mixer or handheld mixer to beat powdered sugar and butter in a large bowl. Mix in the flour and salt until combined.
- Use your hands to press the shortbread layer firmly into an even layer covering the bottom of the pan. You can level it out by pressing down on it with the bottom of a cup. Bake for 9-13 minutes or until edges have just started to turn golden-brown. See notes for no-bake option.
- Allow the shortbread to cool for 10 minutes then place it in the fridge while you make the caramel.
Caramel Option 1: Nut Butter Caramel
- Stir peanut butter, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and melted coconut oil together in a bowl until smooth. Pour over the shortbread, spreading it evenly around, and freeze for 15-30 minutes or until the caramel is firm on top. (It doesn't have to be completely frozen)
Caramel Option 2: Coconut Cream Caramel
- Add coconut cream and brown sugar to a pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. When it's boiling, it will look almost foamy. Reduce heat to medium low and let the caramel simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until its pulling apart from the sides of the pan and is dark in color. (see pictures in post above)
- Pour the caramel over the shortbread layer and place in the freezer for 10 minutes, or until slightly set.
- Add chocolate chips and milk to a pan over medium heat and stir until melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer, sprinkle sea salt on top (if desired), and place the pan back in the freezer for 10 minutes or until set.
- Slice the bars with a clean, sharp knife when chilled.
The calorie information provided for this recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.