Honoring MLK with Millionaire Shortbread

A longstanding tradition in our home is honoring MLK Day with some reading, discussion, and dessert. We ponder Dr. King’s work and legacy and consider what is ours to do to carry on the work of racial justice and equity. This quote (above) is one that I have seen less frequently quoted, but I find so powerful and critical in this moment in time: “We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.”

As part of our honoring of this day, we always make a dessert that somehow integrates colors and flavors (shades of brown and white) as a symbol of the racial integration and unity that we celebrate and strive towards. (Here are some of the past MLK treats we have made.) Millionaire Shortbread is one of my favorite treats. Dave brought me a millionaire bar from Baked on 8th (a lovely local bakery) and a coffee on my first day of class this past week. It was an unexpected treat and inspired me to make these for our MLK dessert! They are simple to make- though there are 3 steps and cooling time between each layer.

These rich, layered dessert bars have a crust of buttery flaky shortbread, a soft and salty caramel center, and chocolate ganache layer. I sprinkle a little finishing salt on top for an extra touch.

Millionaire Shortbread (click for recipe)

THE SHORTBREAD

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (1.8oz)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (4.5oz)

THE CARAMEL FILLING

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup, packed brown sugar
  • 3 oz salted butter (¾ stick)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

GANACHE TOPPING

  • 1½ cups finely chopped semi sweet chocolate – or semi sweet chocolate chips (7oz)
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • Finishing coarse sea salt (like Maldon) 

FOR THE SHORTBREAD

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8 inch square baking tin with baking paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the flour, beating on low just until it starts forming small clumps

Scatter it into the prepared tin, then press it down lightly so there are no gaps.

Bake for 25 minutes.

FOR THE CARAMEL FILLING

Combine the condensed milk, sugar and butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Stir for around 6-7 minutes until the mixture is smooth and thickened slightly.

Stir in the salt, then pour the caramel over the shortbread base.

Bake for another 20 minutes. Let it cool for 30-40 minutes at room temperature before transferring to the fridge.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Once the caramel is cool to the touch, place the chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the cream over low heat, swirling every so often, just until it starts to bubble.

Pour the cream over the chocolate and give the bowl a gentle shake to settle the chocolate under the cream. Leave for 1 minute to soften, then stir to combine. If it’s not all melting together, give it a zap in the microwave for 20 seconds on half power, no more.

Pour the chocolate over the caramel and level out with a knife or spatula. Spring sparingly with Maldon or other finishing salt. 

Then chill for at least 1-2 hours or overnight before cutting into squares with a sharp knife.

Hoping this holiday weekend you are able to spend some time honoring the legacy of Dr. King -whether through community engagement, reading, pondering, conversing or sharing these lovely bars with people.

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