These Red Wine Millionaire Bars has a buttery shortbread base with a layer of red wine caramel and covered in dark chocolate ganache.
I’ve had the idea for these Red Wine Millionaire Bars for awhile.
I had wanted to make red wine caramels for awhile.
And when I saw that Heather over at Sprinkle Bakes made some a few years ago I decided I wanted use it in bars.
I’m calling these the Brooke.
My bridesmaid and friend Brooke is the red wine and dark chocolate queen.
When I thought about making these, I thought of her.
She’s the girl that when we go to a brewery…she orders red wine. 😀
She also shoots salsa and mustard out of condiment cups…but that’s a story for another time. 😛
Red wine and dark chocolate seem to be a Valentine’s combo.
But clearly it’s a year round flavor combination.
Though if you have a red wine and chocolate lover in your life you should totally make these for Valentine’s day for them.
As always, the full recipe with measurements & directions can be found at the bottom of this post.
- Unsalted Butter: You need to make sure you use European butter with the highest butterfat you can find. I make most of my fudge with a 85% butterfat butter. Most of the butter you find at the store is 80%. European butter starts at 83%.
- All-purpose flour – Spoon your flour into the measuring cup, then level it with a flat utensil for best results, or use a scale. Scooping the measuring cup directly into your flour will lead to too much flour, and a potentially dry bake.
- Egg Yolk: While a good chunk of my shortbread recipes don’t call for egg, I like the use of the yolk in these bars for a little more soft crumb.
- Corn Starch: This helps make for a more tender base.
For the Caramel and Topping:
- Red Wine: I used both a mix of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon because that is what I had. Merlot is also a good choice of wine. Just remember that the wine is being boiled down and so the flavor will be concentrated.
- Balsamic Vinegar: While it seems like an odd ingredient for caramel, it helps bring out the flavor in the red wine.
- Baker’s Sugar: Also known as Superfine Sugar. It is granulated sugar that has been finely ground so the crystals are smaller. As a result, it dissolves easier than regular granulated sugar. Your caramel will be less grainy if you use this type of sugar. It’s used in the shortbread as well.
- Brown Sugar: Brown sugar has more depth of flavor and goes well with the red wine. It’s used in the shortbread as well.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: Heavy whipping cream is to be use. No half and half. There is no substitute for this.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: I always use Rodelle vanilla. They are by far my favorite vanilla. It’s used in the shortbread as well.
- Dark Chocolate: While you can certainly use milk or semi sweet chocolate, dark chocolate is usually what goes best with red wine. I used Callebaut®’s 54.5% dark chocolate.
Tips for making successful Caramels:
- Get a good thermometer. There are a lot of variety of thermometers out there for candy.
I prefer a digital laser thermometer (link to the one I use is in the recipe) but you can use the old fashioned kind that hand on the side of the pot.
- When making candy, especially fudge but even caramels I like to use a superfine sugar.
- If you don’t want to spend the extra money (like me) for the special sugar just put it in the food processor and pulse a few times.
- Have all your ingredients out and measured before you start.
Candy making is about timing and if you have to measure out as you go there is a good chance things won’t turn out.
- Be patient. This one is hard for people. I taught Jr. High for years so I have a lot of patience.
Candy making takes time.
- Don’t stir. You will want to but don’t do it.
- Don’t scrape the bottom. Often in the caramelization process the bottom of the pan will get a little more brown than you want. So don’t scrape that into the pan. Just let what caramel comes out…come out.
- Don’t touch.You may be tempted to stick your finger in there to see how it taste. It tastes like burnt off finger if you stick your finger in there.
What are millionaire bars?
Millionaire bars (aka: millionaire shortbread) are thick, decadent bars made from layers of shortbread cookie, buttery caramel, and silky chocolate. I make a variety of flavors of millionaire bars here on the blog.
Why are they called millionaire bars?
The name millionaire bars (or millionaire shortbread) comes from the fact that these bars are incredibly rich and decadent, just like a millionaire!
Are the basically a Twix?
Twix candy bars are based on millionaire bars, but homemade is so much better!
Do I have to chill millionaire bars before adding the chocolate layer?
Yes! The caramel will be runny when you first pour it on, so it needs time to set up before you add the chocolate. Otherwise, the chocolate will melt into the caramel, creating a muddy layer.
Can I make the millionaire bars ahead of time?
Millionaire bars can be made up to 3 days in advance of when you plan to serve them. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Can I freeze millionaire bars?
You can freeze for up to 3 months. Freeze millionaire bars in a single layer on a lined baking sheet until solid, about 1-2 hours. Transfer to an airtight container or Ziplock bag to store for up to 3 months. Let thaw at room temperature before enjoying.
How to Store Red Wine Millionaire Bars:
Store millionaire bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Enjoy cold or at room temperature. Once they start to warm up the caramel will get soft and ooze. I let mine ooze for photographic reasons so it’s really up to you how you want to eat them.
And as always it’s a great day to order my cookbook.
Want More Bar Recipes?
- For the Shortbread Base:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (use at least 82% butterfat European butter)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 TBSP corn starch
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- For the Red Wine Caramel Layer:
- 1 bottle red wine divided (I used a mix of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar Modena type
- 2 cups superfine sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt fine grain
- 4-6 drops sparkling wine flavoring (optional)
- For the Dark Chocolate Layer:
- 2 cups dark chocolate chips
- ½ cup heavy cream
- For the Shortbread Base:
- Preheat oven to 350F .
- Line a 13x9 baking pan with parchment paper.
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the butter until well creamed, about 3 minutes.
- Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds.
- Add egg yolk and vanilla extract and stir well, pausing to scrape down the sides and mixing until ingredients are well-combined.
- Add in the corn starch and mix for 30 seconds.
- Add the flour, gradually (about ½ cup at a time), pausing to scrape down sides of bowl. Halfway through the addition of the flour, sprinkle in the salt with the beater still running. Don't over-beat the dough, you want it to be slightly crumbly to make it easier to press into the pan.
- Drop dough over prepared pan and gently, firmly, evenly, press dough into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake on 350F (177C) for 20-25 minutes -- edges should be lightly golden brown.
- Allow to cool while you prepare your caramel topping.
- For the Red Wine Caramels:
- Remove 1/3 cup of red wine from the bottle to a large cook pot (5 quart or larger). Set aside.
- Pour the remaining wine (about 2 3/4 cups) into a separate medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a boil and then set the heat back to a constant simmer.
- Cook until the wine is reduced by half, then add 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar.
- Continue to cook the mixture down until reduced to 3 tablespoons of concentrated red wine flavoring. This may take approximately 40 minutes.
- To the pot with the 1/3 cup of wine, add the sugars, butter, heavy cream, and corn syrup.
- Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
- Butter will melt and mixture will begin to boil.
- Continue to cook until candy thermometer reaches 245-248 degrees, this will take approximately 20-25 minutes.
- When soft ball temperature has been reached, remove from the heat and stir in the fine grain salt, red wine reduction, drops of flavoring oil, if using, and the remaining tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
- The mixture should turn deep red with this addition.
- Pour caramel over the top of the baked shortbread crust.
- Place in fridge to firm up.
- For the Dark Chocolate Layer:
- Combine chocolate chips and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
- Stir frequently until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
- Remove from heat and allow chocolate to cool just slightly for about 5 minutes, and then evenly spread over prepared caramel layer.
- Allow chocolate to harden in the fridge before cutting and serving.