‘Tis the time for cookie exchanges, holiday baking, and all things that sparkle with sugar. Temptations lurk. Right? I know you know what I mean. It’s hard navigating the holidays when every nook and cranny looks like a candy factory. Do yourself a solid, and prepare for YOUR holidays. A pan of these sticky ooey-gooey low carb millionaire squares will hard stop a sugar craving.
Sweet. These are SO sweet. Thick caramel, coated with snappy dark chocolate topping all on a buttery, crumbly crust. Yeah yeah yeah… I know!?
The best part? These millionaire squares have no added sugars, and they are also;
- and of course low carb
Can you believe that caramel filling is sugar-free?
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Keto-Friendly Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Squares
I’ve always felt that dieting or watching your carb intake doesn’t mean the end of days for sweets. Saying “never” doesn’t work for me. I am not wired that way.
Willpower seems to go on holiday during December too, so I am usually left with too many temptations to ever say no. I find having that special treat for me kicking around allows me to partake without walking around in a sugar coma stupor for days.
I have lots of recipes here on Sugar-Free Sprinkles that will do the trick, but I have to say if you’re looking for that really decadent rich treat to get you through the holidays, try these millionaire squares.
You won’t regret these unless of course, you eat the entire tray.
What sweeteners work best?
Different sweeteners have different impacts on baked recipes. In this recipe, both the crust and the caramel filling have different sweetener recommendations.
Preferred sweeteners for the buttery coconut shortbread crust.
You can use your favorite 1:1 sweeteners in this recipe. I used So Nourished powdered monk fruit erythritol blend because that is currently my go-to favorite. Erythritol, swerve, xylitol, monk fruit, all will work at a 1:1 ratio.
What sweeteners work for the caramel filling?
The only sweetener that works for the caramel is allulose.
I tried this recipe in the past with erythritol (before I knew any better), and of course, it failed.
Erythritol and xylitol do not cook or carmelize the same way that allulose does. Allulose bakes up similar to regular sugar, with a few exceptions.
A reader suggested using half allulose and half erythritol. This does work, but I do find after a day or two the erythritol still crystalizes, but it does not harden entirely.
I personally like the caramel made with 100% allulose because the texture and flavor are bang on.
a bit about the millionaire bar crust
This is one of my favorite go-to crusts.
It’s made with coconut flour, no nut flours. It holds up well, isn’t overly crumbly, meaning you can eat a square out of your hand and have it hold together, and it’s buttery.
Although it doesn’t have the same flakey textures as old fashioned shortbread it still makes a great replacement.
It’s SUPER easy to make, but there are a few tips to make sure it turns out perfect every time.
- Toss all the crust ingredients into a bowl.
- Blend well.
- Continue to blend well until the dough starts to hold together and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- The dough is sticky and a bit wet, it won’t at all feel like shortbread, or even crust, but it is the right consistency. Wet the back of a spoon with a bit of water and use the spoon to spread out the dough. You can also use your wet fingers to get the dough spread out evenly.
- Use a spatula and remove any bits off the side of the pan. This ensures the side pieces have no brown crust bits in the caramel.
- Make sure you use a fork and prick the crust all over before placing it in the oven.
A note about pans and over-browning
If you are using a thin-walled square cake pan, I suggest wrapping the bottom and sides with tin foil to prevent over-browning. Coconut flour over browns quickly and I find the addition of the tin foil reduces the risk.
I was recently introduced to USA pans and I am absolutely over the moon crazy about them. They are super heavy duty pans, and my low carb baking comes out perfect every time. With heavy-duty commerical grade pans, you do not need to take the extra step of covering with tin-foil.
a bit about the caramel filling
I’ve made the caramel filling many times and every single time I am surprised by how GOOD it tastes.
It turns thick and semi-chewy in the fridge and has absolutely NO graininess. It’s smooth, sweet, caramel all the way.
There are a few tips to ensure your caramel turns out perfectly.
- Do not cook on high. You have to simmer this on med-low heat for about 20-25 minutes. If you cook it too fast the allulose will burn and leave behind a bitter flavor.
- Do not stir during cooking. You do not want to get allulose up the sides of your pan. If you do, the allulose will burn, and possibly fall back into your beautiful pot of caramel. This will cause off-flavors and bitterness.
- Cook the caramel until it is amber-brown. The caramel will be runny when you pour it out of the pan, but it firms up very well when cooled.
This caramel is good on anything.
For the chocolate topping, I used Lilly’s dark chocolate chips melted with a bit of coconut oil. The coconut oil softens the chocolate up enough to cut when the squares are cold from the fridge. It creates a better texture to go with these squares. It’s nice soft chewy bites, not hard snappy chocolate.
You can use any low carb or sugar-free chocolate you want. Lilly’s milk chocolate chips would work well, but add an extra layer of sweetness.
- Use a heat-safe bowl and add 1 1/2 cup sugar-free chocolate chips.
- Add 1 Tbsp of coconut oil. The coconut oil is to give the chocolate a bit of a snap and to make it more spreadable. 1 minute in the microwave is all you need.
- Stir the chocolate and coconut oil until everything is melted and glossy.
- Pour over cooled crust and caramel.
- Spread it out quickly. The cold caramel will start to firm up the chocolate as soon as you pour it over the bars.
- Use a knife and zig-zag a pattern into your squares. The chocolate will be thicker now that it is cooler and the chocolate will stay put when you move it around.
Storage & serving
These low carb millionaire bars need to be stored in the fridge. This is one of the reasons why Allulose is the preferred sweetener for the caramel. It will not grain up in the fridge and will keep smooth.
The caramel is also thick and gooey refrigerated, but not so much out in room temperature. The bars are softer when warm and the caramel will have a tendency to smoosh out the sides.
I mean this isn’t a bad thing. These are sticky and gooey, you expect sticky and gooey, so smushing out of the caramel isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when warm they tend to make a glorious sticky mess. Just a heads up.
If you keep them stored in the fridge, you can stack them once they are nice and cold, but don’t stack too high, the weight of the bars will squeeze the caramel out of the bars on the bottom.
These bars store very well in the fridge for up to 5 days, so long as you keep them covered.
To prevent the caramel from seeping out when you cut these bars, heat a sharp knife under hot running water and wipe dry. The warm knife cuts through the chocolate easily and doesn’t push or squish the caramel out the sides.
The millionaire bars do not freeze well. You can make the crust in advance and freeze. The caramel can also be made a few days ahead. Since the caramel needs to be cold before you add it to the crust, making it in advance makes sense.
- 1 cup coconut flour
- 3/4 cup butter (melted)
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tbsp powdered erythritol monk fruit blend (or your favorite sweetener)
- 2 Tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cup allulose
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cup sugar-free dark chocolate chips (I use Lilly's)
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Melt the butter and add it to a large mixing bowl.
- Blend eggs, vanilla, and cream in a small bowl and whisk until well blended and pour into the bowl with the melted butter.
- Add salt, coconut flour, and sweetener and mix until everything is well blended and comes together into a ball.
- Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9x9 square cake pan.
- Use a spatula and remove any crumb crusts from the sides of the cake pan.
- Prick crust with a fork.
- Bake in a 350F oven for 10 minutes and remove and cool before adding the filling.
- Add all ingredients for Caramel filling to a high walled saucepan.
- Turn the heat on low and allow ingredients to melt. Gently stir to combine before caramel starts to simmer.
- Allow to simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until the caramel turns amber brown. Do not stir while ingredients are simmering.
- Working carefully, pour caramel into a heatproof jar.
- Cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge to firm.
- Once cold, spoon caramel on top of the crust, cover with saran wrap and place back in the refrigerator.
- See caramel notes for options to make the caramel thicker at room temperature.
- Add 1 1/2 cups sugar-free chocolate to a heat-safe bowl.
- Add 1 Tbsp coconut oil.
- Heat in microwave for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth and glossy.
- Spread over caramel quickly. Use the tip of a knife to add a zig-zag pattern in the chocolate.
Tips for the low carb caramel filling
- Cook on low heat. Do not be tempted to cook on higher heat. Higher heat will cause the allulose to turn bitter.
- Do not stir the cooking caramel. Allow the caramel to bubble slowly to the right color.
- Allulose is the only sweetener that will properly caramelize. You can use erythritol, but it will grain up when cold quite a bit. You can minimize this by using half allulose and half erythritol. You will still encounter a bit of graininess after the second day in the fridge, but it's not significant. If you want truly smooth caramel, use 100% allulose.
- Burners vary in temperatures, my caramel cooked in 25 minutes on med-low heat. Your burner may differ and you may need to cook your caramel longer or shorter depending on the heat. The caramel should be on a slow rolling boil and will have reached the correct temperature when the caramel is amber brown.
- If you want the caramel to be firm at room temperature, you can either add 1/2 tsp of Xanthan gum to the allulose, water, butter, and heavy cream before you begin cooking. Or use 1 tsp of Pomona's Universal Pectin. Regular pectin will not work, you need to use pectin that thickens without sugar.
Tips for the crust
- If you are using a thin-walled cake pan I recommend covering it in tinfoil. Coconut flour has a tendency to over brown, and if the pan is thin, tinfoil greatly reduces over-browning. I love USA pans. They are heavy duty and I find for low carb baking they are the best. A heavy-duty commercial grade pan does not require the extra step of adding tinfoil.
Tips for the topping
- You can use butter in place of coconut oil. Low carb chocolate does not melt very well and is not spreadable without an addition. The single tablespoon of additional coconut oil makes the chocolate smooth, glossy and spreadable.
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- Powdered Monk Fruit Sweetener with Erythritol Confectioners (1 lb / 16 oz)
- Lily's Dark Chocolate Chips- 1x9 OZ
- Anthony's Organic Coconut Flour
- Hoosier Hill Farm ALLULOSE Low Calorie, Zero Net Carb Keto Sugar, Natural Sugar Alternative, Made in the USA, Granular Powder, 2 lb bag, batch tested gluten free
- USA Pan Bakeware Square Cake Pan, 9 inch, Nonstick & Quick Release Coating, Made in the USA from Aluminized Steel
Nutrition Information:Yield: 25 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 230Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 155mgCarbohydrates: 8.2gNet Carbohydrates: 3.6gFiber: 4.6gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g