I’m going to share something very special with all of you- My recipe for Billionaire Bars. Why? Why are they so special you ask? Let me ask you a few things. Do you like buttery flakey cookies that crumble with the most delicate bite? Or deep, dark, molasses caramel that just melts into perfection beneath Ghiradelli milk chocolate? How about salty and sweet maple candied pecans that have been gently tickled with some warm nutmeg and cinnamon notes?
That’s what I thought- that’s exactly what I thought. It’s been some time since I’ve paired a recipe with a book so I asked myself, what novel is the epitome of luxury and scandal and thrives on the darkest of all secrets? Duh, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’m just throwing this on the table, I have never seen the film version of the novel and am unsure how closely they compare. With that said, this entry is based solely on my high school AP English class recollection of the novel.
Just as The Great Gatsby’s West Egg is home to new money and East Egg is home to old money, this recipe is inspired by Blue-Eyed Baker’s recipe for Millionaire Shortbread. In this scenario, I am West Egg- call me Nick Carraway. The Great Gatsby follows Nick Carraway, Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker, and Jay Gatsby as they throw extravagant parties across city and social class lines, linger in the shadows of their scandalous pasts, and strive to rekindle a love that ends in tragedy. I don’t want to insult this great piece of literature by comparing it to E!’s Real Housewives series. I’ll just say for those younger readers, The Great is the original Real Housewives.
My Billionaire Bars and The Great Gatsby are seductively sweet, salty, and scandalous. Bring these to a party once and I can guarantee you’ll be invited to all the neighborhood bashes. Or if you live the life of Daisy Buchanan, neighborhood balls.
Inspired by Blue Eyed Baker’s Millionaire Shortbread
For the Shortbread Cookie:
3/4 Cup butter, room temperature
1 Teaspoon salt
1/3+ 3 Tablespoons, white sugar
3 Cups flour
3/4 Cup cornstarch
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Caramel:
1 1/2 Cup butter
3/4 Cup dark brown sugar
4 Tablespoons dark corn syrup
3/4 Cup sweetened condensed milk
For the Topping:
2 1/2 Cups Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips. Any milk chocolate chips will work.
1 1/2 Cups Pecans
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon maple syrup, though Aunt Jemima will work just fine.
1/2 Teaspoon salt
For the Shortbread Cookie: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Then add in vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, sift flour, salt, and cornstarch. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture on medium speed. beat until it forms pea-sized crumbles. Pour the dough into an overly buttered 9x 13 pan and press down with your hands. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the sized just begin to turn light brown.
For the Caramel: Once the cookie is removed, begin to prepare the caramel. Go into this expecting a light arm workout as you will constantly be stirring. In a saucepan, brown the butter on medium heat and stir constantly. When you brown butter, it will begin to get foamy. This is what you want. It will start to bubble, turn into foam, and then back to bubbly. It will brown up quickly and when this starts to happen, remove from heat to ensure it won’t burn. Add the brown sugar, dark corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk. Put back on heat and stir constantly on medium heat until it begins to boil. Then pour over top the shortbread cookie and refrigerate for 2-3 hours until the caramel has hardened.
For the Topping: Preheat oven to 350 degreed fahrenheit. On a butter baking sheet, coat the pecans with cinnamon, nutmeg, dark brown sugar, salt, and maple syrup. Bake for 10 minutes until they just begin to brown. As they cool they will begin to harden. Melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler OR microwave in 30 second intervals until it melts. Spread the melted chocolate over the hardened caramel. Then, scatter the pecans on top. Let harden at room temperature or refrigerate for 1 hour. If you refrigerate, remove from fridge ten minutes before serving as it is easier to slice that way.
“I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” ~ The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald