Shortbread.  Caramel.  Chocolate.
No wonder these are called Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars…  they’re so rich you feel like royalty when you taste it.
More than anything, though, you will feel like a real winner when you remember that this bar you are eating isn’t so bad for you.  That’s right.  The decadence you see here is actually good for you!  Unlike the original recipe, which contains refined flour, white sugar, butter and other unhealthy ingredients, this recipe is whole grain, low sugar, free of butter and contains fiber and antioxidants.  Yeah, in dessert.  Life is good, yes?
Millionaire's Shortbread Bars

I honestly wasn’t expecting this recipe to be such a success as I was making it (nothing like expecting defeat before you even started the battle).  I mean, how could I possibly healthify caramel with the substitutions I was making?  Using no heavy cream, sugar and butter is likely a recipe for disaster (hah, no pun intended)

So when the shortbread bars were finally ready to slice, I was a nervous wreck.  Knowing my luck, something was bound to go wrong.  As I sliced the bars and caught a glimpse of the caramel, I squealed like a little kid.  The caramel didn’t gush out, the chocolate layer wasn’t too thick, and the shortbread crust didn’t crumble into dust.  Yeah, I kind of imagined all of those things before I even brought out the knife.  I quickly snapped some photos (aka, three) and had to put the camera down.

The looming question:  does it taste good?

I took a bite and did a little happy dance (or prance?).  That was my very first “happy dance” and I certainly hope it was my last…  I’d be quite embarrassed if you saw me do that.  It was deeelicious.  The shortbread crust was exactly like shortbread–nice and buttery with a slight crumble.  The caramel was sweet, smooth and creamy.  And the chocolate?  Oh, the chocolate… rich and undeniably decadent.  A real millionaire’s treat.

Healthy Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars (low sugar, gluten free, vegan)

Yield: 16 bars

Healthy Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars (low sugar, gluten free, vegan)



    For the Crust:
  1. In a small microwave-safe bowl, stir together the shortening and applesauce. Microwave for 20 seconds.
  2. Add the agave and microwave for 20 seconds, or until shortening has melted. Stir well, mixture should be runny.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the oat flour, brown rice flour, flax and salt. Add the wet ingredients and fold together. Fold until you form a dough ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten lightly into a disc and refrigerate for ~45 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line an 8" brownie pan with parchment paper both ways.
  5. Unwrap the dough disc and press into the prepared pan. Poke holes into the crust (I used a fork)
  6. Bake for ~15-18 minutes, or until surface is dry and edges are golden in color. Cool in pan.
  7. For the Caramel Layer:
  8. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the coconut milk, shortening and salt at 20-second intervals, until shortening has melted. Set aside.
  9. In a medium/large deep pot, add the agave and water, then stir in the erythritol and sucanat. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the pot so there are no crystals above the surface of the sugar mixture.
  10. Place a candy thermometer in the pot and place over medium-medium/high heat. Do not stir, let mixture come to a boil.
  11. At 250 degrees Fahrenheit, turn off the heat and slowly whisk in the coconut milk/shortening mixture (it should bubble slightly). Stop whisking once all is added.
  12. Return pot to medium-medium/high heat and bring mixture to 245 degrees Fahrenheit. It should smell delicious and caramel-like right now... refrain from drinking the hot liquid ;)
  13. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
  14. Pour hot caramel over the cooled crust, let sit 5+ hours, or until mixture has lightened in color (it will lighten in circular bubble looking things). Once entire surface is firm, make the chocolate layer.
  15. For the Chocolate Layer:
  16. Break up the chocolate and add to a small microwave-safe bowl along with the coconut oil.
  17. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until chocolate is melted. Pour over the completely cooled and hardened caramel, and refrigerate until chocolate is no longer shiny. Do not refrigerate any longer than that. Slice and serve!


Do not refrigerate the bars for longer than an hour, as the chocolate will separate from the caramel. These are best served the day of making, however they do last for a couple days.

**Please do not use hydrogenated shortening, I beg you... if you cannot find the butter flavored Spectrum Organics, use their regular shortening or Earth Balance or possibly even Coconut Oil + 1/2 tsp Butter Flavor in both the crust AND caramel!

This recipe is: low sugar, gluten free, vegan!

Caramel adapted from: The Kitchn, which has great step-by-step pics!

Because everyone who tried these Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars had a hard time believing they were actually healthy, I thought I’d include the nutrition label for my recipe and compare it to the original to convince you!
The original recipe‘s label is on the left, my recipe’s label is on the right:

Healthy Dessert Blog  Healthy Dessert Blog

Unlike what everyone thought, my Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars don’t have “500 calories and 50g of fat per slice.”

Compared to the original recipe, my recipe is:

  • lower calorie
  • lower fat (and lower saturated fat too!)
  • lower carb
  • lower sugar
  • cholesterol free
  • higher fiber

And my recipe tastes just as rich and sweet and decadent and satisfying as the original…  if not better.  Not to mention, this recipe doesn’t contain any butter, whole milk, refined sugar and refined flour!  Oh, and it’s gluten free and vegan (but you’d never know it)

Millionaire's Shortbread Bars
Millionaire's Shortbread Bars

The richness of the chocolate helps balance the sweetness of the caramel, and the shortbread crust provides a lovely textural contrast.  This is my family’s new favorite dessert, and I assure you, it will be yours too  :)

Labels: Agave, Applesauce, Bars-Blondies-and-Brownies, Brown-Rice-Flour, Caramel, Chocolate, Coconut-Milk, Coconut-Oil, Eggless, Erythritol, Flax, Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar, Nutrition-Label, Oat-Flour, Sucanat, Vegan

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Comments (13)

  1. Kayla: December 15, 2012

    I literally LOLed at the pictures with the $20. aaaand it’s my mama’s birthday soon, carmel and chocolate are two of her favorites- so stoked on this recipe!

  2. Doug: December 16, 2012

    Oh my gosh, I love you for this. I’ve been looking for some gluten free dessert recipes along these lines for a while since being diagnosed as celiac. This just seems soooo lovely.

  3. Carolyn: December 16, 2012

    Nice work! Not low carb enough for me personally, but I love the healthification of these. Also love the $20 bill in the pics, so cute!

  4. Anonymous: December 16, 2012

    I opened this link reluctantly thinking “there is NO way these are gluten free,” only to look at the recipe and see that they’re made with oat & rice flour! I can’t wait to make these.

  5. Pauline: December 16, 2012

    Heh, like the $20 bill under the millionaire bars. Don’t worry, you’ll reach a million dollars soon enough with your baking!

    As usual, whatever you make looks amazing, must taste amazing, and makes me feel healthy and happy just looking at it!

  6. Pipsa: December 28, 2012

    Love the photos with the 20-dollar bill! So imaginative :) I hope I was able to make all these yummy creations of yours, it’s such a pity I don’t live in the States and so many of the products you use I cannot obtain here. As I am a student it would be too expensive to order them online, the postal and customs fares are so ridiculously high… But I love to come here and drool over your beautiful pics :)

  7. Nicci: February 23, 2013

    I’m planning on making this tomorrow but I don’t have any shortening or butter extract. Can I use applesauce in place of the shortening?

  8. dessertswithbenefits: February 23, 2013

    I haven’t tried using applesauce but I’m sure it will work! The crust might turn out a little bit crumbly though, so if you have xanthan gum maybe add 1/4 tsp to the crust’s dry ingredients or maybe an extra tablespoon of ground flaxseed. Good luck, and I hope you love the recipe :)

  9. Lauren: March 22, 2013

    could I use only rice flour instead of both rice and oat? if so, would I just substitute? also, could the caramel layer be made with soy or rice milk?

  10. dessertswithbenefits: March 23, 2013

    You can use all brown rice flour if you like, however you might want to add another tablespoon of flax and another tablespoon of applesauce to help bind the dough. I haven’t made the caramel with soy or rice milk but you can try! As long as you like the flavor it should work :)

  11. Dina: November 8, 2013

    I’ve always wanted to try these and your lighter version looks great!

  12. Lucy: September 8, 2014

    These look incredible!! Do you think I could substitute it for plain gluten free flour? :)

  13. dessertswithbenefits: September 9, 2014

    Thanks Lucy! :)
    Did you mean the oat flour or brown rice flour? Either way, I’m not really sure… I’ve never used a pre-mixed gluten-free flour before. If it has xanthan gum, than I’m sure it will work, but if it doesn’t then it won’t. The oat flour helps bind the base so it’s not super crumbly, and xanthan gum has the same effect :)
    I hope you like the Millionaire’s Bars!

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