The ultimate 5 layer dessert bar with a crunchy shortbread crust and rich ribbons of chocolate, caramel and peanut butter, making each bite a little taste of heaven.
I wanted to try something new. Usually, by the time I’m posting a recipe on the site, I’ve made it a few times. You know? I’m going to make sure I know what I’m doing, that I’ve gotten it exactly how I want it before I’m going to share it with you and publish it. This means that I’ve looked at a few different recipes for the same thing and created some sort of hybrid of a few different things, taking a little bit from this one over here and a little bit from this one over there and learning from mistakes. That’s cooking, you know? Dump and stir, trial and error.
Enter: Wing It Wednesdays. I’m going to find a recipe, take the usual pictures and hope for the best. Whether it works out great or turns into a hot mess and goes off the rails, I’m going to share it with you. I’ll tell you where it worked, where it didn’t, what I learned, what I would do differently next time, if there will even be a next time.
This past Father’s Day brought an opportunity for me to try making something new to bring to a family get-together. You know how sometimes something can just scream Girl, it’s time to get fancy! and you know you need to show up? This opportunity spoke to me like that. I hear Beyoncé’s voice when something calls for fancy. After all, it was the first Father’s Day for Jeff and the first one for my Dad as a Papa. So, there she was, Beyoncé, whispering to me to get fancy with my Father’s Day dessert. I could hardly deny her.
I’m pretty sure I picked the most labor-intensive and over the top dessert I could find with these Billionaire Bars, but if we’re talking Beyoncé, I’m not sure I could have gotten any more appropriate with that choice. I was just perusing Pinterest one day and this decadent delicacy jumped out and said Make me! With 5 layers of sugary sweetness, I felt like Joey Tribbiani going through those layers of Rachel’s Thanksgiving Trifle. Shortbread? Good. Brownie? Yep. Caramel? Sign me up! Chocolate? Don’t have to ask me twice. Peanut butter frosting? ARE WE STILL LISTING THINGS WITH WHICH I WANT TO STUFF MY FACE? For the love of all things holy, yes, I’m going to eat all of that. Yes. Yes. Yes.
The thing is… these Billionaire Bars, while delicious, took a long time to make and were a lot of steps and kind of… a bit much. But I suppose that’s the point?
Step 1: Prep Your Pan & Make the Shortbread
So, in Wing It Wednesday: Twix Blondies, I talked about how useful it is to prep your pan with aluminum foil so it makes it easy to lift your bars out of your pan. I also mentioned that there was a time that I did this and it was a shitshow? This was that time. I don’t know what I did wrong, but when I went to pull these out once they were finished cooking, my aluminum foil was crushed all up in the crust of the shortbread and it was a total shitshow trying to get all of the tiny pieces imbedded in the outside of the shortbread (and the caramel), that I was so mad and swore I’d never do this again. But this must have been the exception to the rule, because I also used a rounded pan like an idiot. Learn from my mistakes.
Another useful tip regarding lining your pan? Pleat two pieces together to make sure the aluminum foil goes all the way up over the edges of your pan for full coverage and ease of lifting out. This is not a great example because using this rounded pan was a stupid idea and created so many crinkly edges, but if you weren’t a dumb-dumb like me and used a rectangle 13×9 this would have worked much better. Live and learn, people.
So, you know what the beautiful thing about shortbread is? It’s butter and sugar and flour. It’s, like, the most simple, basic dough ever, and it yield such a great crust. This dough is the anchor of this dessert bar – and I happen to love shortbread. It’s similar to pie crust for me, just straight up sinful and delicious because of all of the butter. It’s so naughty and so glorious.
It was kind of mushy, obviously, because of all of the butter, and I smashed it into the pan pretty good, so maybe that’s where I went wrong with the aluminum foil. Aside from not using a rounded pan, maybe I could have taken it a little bit easier with the smashing into the pan part of this.
Step 2: Brownies!!
So, as previously mentioned, you guys, I love brownies. The recipe calls for a box mix of brownies and when I saw that I was psyched 🙌🏻 because I’m not trying to make brownies from scratch only to include them in a bigger, better dessert. That just seems like so much work. The plan was to prepare the box mix as indicated on the box and dump it on top of the shortbread layer and then bake it.
I was concerned about the baking part because I’m a weirdo and very particular about the texture of brownies, and I’m very specific in the brand and the preparation. I always, always, always buy the Ghirardelli brand box mix of brownies (Dark Chocolate for the win!) and I ignore the illustrated instructions on the back because that makes them a weird texture that I’m not into. Instead of the illustrated and outlined instructions on the box, instead of a quarter of a cup of water, I only do two tablespoons of H2O, because I’m all about a fudgy brownie, and that’s what you need to do to get that. Also, I always bake them for 45 minutes in a glass 8×8 pan. Those are the rules of brownies.
I am aware this seems long winded for an instruction that says “make brownies” but I’m telling you – learn from me. Listen to your gut. Always. When the recipe told me to bake the brownie layer and the shortbread layer for 30-35 minutes, I knew this couldn’t be right. I set the timer for 30 minutes and then I checked – not ready. I checked again at 35 minutes – not ready. But the recipe said…! I was very, very torn. I let them go until 40 minutes and pulled them out. I thought to myself that maybe they’d be done because they were in a thinner layer in this pan than they usually are in an 8×8 but that apparently did not matter.
Step 3: It’s time for that Caramel Layer
You guys, caramel is delicioso. In my coffee, on ice cream, in brownies, in candy. I figured this would be delish because how can you go wrong with caramel? You know what is not awesome? Unwrapping a million of these little caramel candies.
Melting these down with some heavy cream is a cinch and doesn’t take too long. You do need to keep an eye on them and keep stirring so they don’t burn. Once it’s smooth, you pour this layer on top of your brownie layer.
The recipe said to chill in the fridge so that the caramel can set. It says to chill for 1-2 hours. That’s a long time, yo. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Wing It Wednesday rules say that I should have listened to that, but I guarantee you that I do not know why it needs to be that long. Seems like that’s excessive. 💁🏻♀️
Step 4: It’s your deep dark chocolate layer
While letting the caramel layer set in the fridge, I made the last two layers, to allow for ample time for the caramel to harden. The next layer involved is the chocolate layer, and this is just straight up wicked. There are a couple of different ways to melt chocolate, and both include babysitting it so it doesn’t seize up and burn. I opted into the microwave option because I wasn’t trying to do dishes in the middle of this long drawn out dessert or pull out yet another pan. So, stick a bowl with your chocolate chips and butter into the microwave and stir every 30 seconds until it softens and becomes smooth. Once it’s smooth, you’re ready and can pour it on top of your set caramel layer and smooth it out. The chocolate will likely start to set much more quickly than your caramel because the layers upon which it is placed are chilled. Make sure your chocolate it set before moving to the last step.
Also, you can probably use any sort of chocolate chip/chunk you want to melt down, but I love dark chocolate, so I used exactly what her recipe recommended, 60% bittersweet chocolate. But semi sweet would have worked just fine or even white chocolate could work.
Step 5: Is there anything better than peanut butter frosting? (That’s not rhetorical.)
I just can’t. Frosting, as a food group, is amazing, and peanut butter is also amazing, so merging them is obviously a match made in heaven. Every time I eat peanut butter frosting, it’s a tie between hearing angels sing and Beyonce sing.
I followed her recipe for peanut butter frosting and it did not disappoint. This was the most bomb layer of the entire dessert. I for real could eat this straight with a spoon. And I may have let Wrangler lick the beater. I’m a nice mom sometimes, but I’m definitely the reason he’s fat. 🤷🏻♀️
The last part of this dessert does not include you sitting on the couch with this bowl of frosting in your lap while crying to Vampire Diaries, even if that seems like what should happen. The last part of this dessert is dumping the contents of that mixing bowl right on top of that deep dark chocolate layer and spreading it out so your decadent dessert can have its 5 delicious layers of rich goodness.
Step 6: Plate & Eat your Billionaire Bars
I could lie to you and tell you they didn’t taste good, but, as I just said, that would be a lie. My tip to you would be: cut small pieces. These are very, very rich (as you might have guessed), so you really only need a little bit. But I won’t judge you if you eat the whole pan.
Sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
Difficulty/Approachability: Medium Low. This just felt like it had so many steps. Like, I had to clean my mixing bowl, like, a hundred times for the various steps for each layer within this bar. Also, getting the timing right on the baking time will likely be a trial and error thing, because the recipe, in my opinion, under shot that time by a lot.
Taste: I mean… honestly, can you even imagine that these wouldn’t taste good? Look at everything inside of each bite. I’m going to include texture with taste because that’s what I’d really like to talk about. The taste is amazing, but the texture leaves a little bit to be desired. Because each layer is so different, the textures are also different, and I’m not sure that these all go together. The brownies, this time, were too under-done and bordered on too ooey-gooey for me (and that’s saying something). The caramel was sticky and either too hard from being chilled or too sticky from sitting out. It usually just made the bar fall apart when biting into it. Best case was eating it with a fork and not getting pissed off when the layers broke apart. But, if we’re only judging taste, then holy sh*t, yes, delicious.
What would I do differently? I definitely spoke about this above, but I would have baked the brownie/shortbread layer longer. The shortbread was fine and would have been fine had I baked it longer, and the brownies definitely needed it. That’s my biggest complaint, so if I were to make this again, I would ignore what the recipe says and bake this for at least 45-50 minutes to ensure the brownie layer isn’t so ooey-gooey. I would also find chocolate sprinkles/jimmies to decorate the top layer of peanut butter frosting, but that’s just so they look extra pretty.
Would I make this again? Meh. I dunno. Seemed like a lot of work for something that I don’t really need. Sometimes it’s just better to eat a brownie as a brownie, you know?
Click HERE for the Original Recipe