Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Millionaire Shortbread

Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

My husband is the king of gift giving. It’s basically his super power. Over the years, he has given me so many wonderful, thoughtful gifts that are always totally surprising but also exactly what I want, sometimes without even knowing it. And though he does often spend more money than I would, it’s never about how expensive the gift is. He always finds something that shows that he has been listening and really gets me. Every gift says I love you.

I’m turning forty soon, and I’ve been pretty anxious about it. Signs of age are finally undeniable in my face and body, and I’m not sure how to deal with that. I want to accept it gracefully, but it’s a struggle.

The other night, I came home from my yoga class to a pile of packages on the kitchen table. I overlooked them, assuming they were maybe Christmas gifts or something from various family members that had been sent up early. I couldn’t think what else they would be, and I was too hungry to process them beyond another thing I would need to tidy up.

Ten minutes later, to keep myself from dying while I waited for some real food to be delivered, I dug out some ice cream bars from the freezer, and as I was setting the empty box on the table, I finally noticed the note that was sitting there. A note to me. The sweetest note I’ve ever read declaring that all those gifts and envelopes were actually for me. 40 gifts for the 40 days leading up to my birthday so that I would remember every day how much I am loved, how wonderful my life has been, and what a beautiful future we have together. That note will probably still be my favorite part of the gift by the time my birthday finally arrives. I’ve said it before, I didn’t know what it meant to be truly loved until I met this man. Nothing has changed.

Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

For Geoff’s birthday a few months ago, I bought him a video game and tickets to a local Oktoberfest event. I’m terrible at gift giving. My brain just doesn’t work like that. The way I showed him my love was to make him homemade caramel ice cream, and these Millionaire Shortbread bars. I’m a terrible shopper, but you best believe, you’ll get the homemade dessert of your dreams. And this Millionaire Shortbread is definitely the stuff that dreams are made of.

A layer of crumbly, buttery shortbread is topped with a layer of chewy caramel, then a thick chocolate ganache is spread over the whole thing. It’s heavenly. While there are three different components, and each needs to be made individually, this can be done after work and still be eaten later that night. Caramel-making is always a little bit fiddly. My pot is old and doesn’t heat evenly, so I get hot spots, but hopefully you don’t have hand-me-down cookware and won’t have to contend with that problem. But even if things don’t go perfectly, this is still gonna be awesome.

Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

We all have unique ways of saying I love you. Millionaire shortbread is a great place to start.

Millionaire Shortbread
Serves 16
Millionaire Shortbread is an awesome way to show a caramel lover you care.
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
30 min
For the crust
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons corn starch
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 2 ounces cold butter, cut into chunks
  6. 1 tablespoon cold water
  7. 1 egg yolk
For the caramel
  1. 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. 3 ounces unsalted butter
  4. 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. Pinch of sea salt
For the chocolate
  1. 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped of chips
  2. 3 tablespoons double cream
For the crust
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment or foil leaving a bit of an overhang for easy removal later.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, corn starch, and salt until combined and lump free.
  3. Work the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like wet sand. I find my clean hands are the best tool for this job.
  4. Add the water and egg yolk and blend together with a fork until everything is well combined.
  5. Transfer this mixture to your baking sheet, and press it evenly into the bottom. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
For the caramel
  1. While your crust is in the oven, you can start making your caramel. Start by whisking together your sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, butter and golden syrup in a medium sauce pan with a candy thermometer attached. Make sure you have enough space as the mixture will expand as it boils.
  2. Cook this over medium heat, whisking gently all the while until the butter melts and the mixture starts to boil. Continue to cook and stir until the temperature reaches 225F. Once you hit your target temperature, turn off the heat and quickly add in the vanilla and salt. Whisk this all together, then quickly and carefully transfer your caramel onto your crust. Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes for the caramel to set.
For the chocolate
  1. Combined your chopped chocolate or chocolate chips with your cream in a microwave safe dish. Microwave the mixture for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each round, until the chocolate is just melted. Give it a good stir to smooth everything out, then pour this over your caramel layer. Use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate mixture as evenly as possible right to the edge.
  2. Refrigerate the whole thing for at least an hour to set everything before slicing into 16 pieces. These are pretty rich, so you could make them even smaller if you have the patience. If you're finding your bars difficult to cut, allow them to come up to room temperature first.
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Awesome Homemade Cookies

Awesome Homemade Cookies

Awesome Homemade Cookies

If the internet is telling the truth, Tuesday is National Homemade Cookie Day! Surely the internet wouldn’t lie about something as important as that. We get to take this day off work, right?

Clearly, I haven’t made enough homemade cookies in the last six months. Let’s make sure you don’t have that problem. Here are some of my favorite homemade cookie recipes. They’re all pretty idiot proof. I mean, I made them, and what do I know?

White chocolate cranberry macadamia nut cookies have a long name, but as long as you eat one cookie for each word in the title, you’ll be a happy human. Sweet, buttery, and just a tiny bit tart, these cookies combine the best of the islands and the mainland.

Cheater shortbread is so fast and so easy, anyone can make it! And everyone should eat it. Straight up or as a crust for something creamy, it’s gonna be awesome!

Giant chocolate chip cookies are pretty much as awesome as they sound. It’s my favorite chocolate chip cookie at the moment, and since it’s made with melted butter, there’s no waiting around. Cookies in your face in under 30 minutes? Yes, please!

Scottish shortbread is the real deal. The best thing to come out of Scotland since Ewan McGregor! Simple joy!

Make your own cookies at home this week. I promise, the smell alone is worth it. And you can eat as much cookie dough as you want. I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me. Homemade cookies are where it’s at, kids. What could be awesomer?

Cheater Shortbread from Awesome on 20

Cheater Shortbread

Cheater Shortbread from Awesome on 20

I am such a cheater. A lazy, worthless, no good cheater. I mean, that’s one way to look at it. On the other hand, I could be a totally frugal time-saving genius. It could really go either way.

You see, we had to meet strangers, which I, as an awkward introvert, find slightly terrifying. Geoff had some distant cousins, his mother’s cousin and her family I think, who were visiting our island. We went to meet them for an afternoon, and Geoff wanted me to make something to take to them. This happened to coincide with a moment when I had precisely zero spending money. I had to make something simple and beautiful without going to the store and buying any new ingredients.

Cheater Shortbread from Awesome on 20

That’s when I found the easiest shortbread recipe ever! And guess what? It was awesome!!! And so easy. No special ingredients required. The Scottish shortbread I made a few months ago is probably much more authentic, but this cheater version still tastes great, and comes together with much less fussing. This would also make a great base for lilikoi bars or cheesecake bars.

I love the sweet simplicity of buttery shortbread. It’s just so purely awesome. They’re the perfect accompaniment to a brew, which I’ve learned can mean either tea or coffee. I think it’s instant coffee, though. I’ll be having tea, please. Milk. Two sugars. There are still so many things I don’t understand about the English.

Cheater Shortbread from Awesome on 20

 Maybe I should have made something more impressive for long lost relatives from England/Louisiana, but like I always say, you have to work with what you got. A little pink paper makes anything seem a bit more fancy. I hope they enjoyed them. I secretly wished I could keep them all to myself.

Cheater Shortbread
Serves 18
Buttery, beautiful, and oh so simple shortbread cookies
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 1-1/4 cup flour
  4. Pinch of salt
  5. Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. With a mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar together for about three minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Turn mixer down to low and mix in flour and salt until just combined.
  4. Press dough evenly into an 8x8 baking pan.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  6. Cool shortbread in pan, dust with powdered sugar, cut into squares, and put into a cute box.
  7. Make tea and try not to eat all the cookies.
Adapted from 1001 Fast & Easy Recipes
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
Caramel Swirl Cheesecake Bars from Awesome on 20

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake Bars from Awesome on 20

My husband is crazy for caramel. He also insists that the word be pronounced with three syllables. Saying KAR-MUL is practically a sin in this house. He’s very particular about that.

It also has to be football, never ever soccer.

Three meals a day? Breakfast, dinner, tea. It gets a bit confusing sometimes.

It took me months to learn the difference between the washing and the washing up. One’s laundry and one’s dishes. Why can’t they use different words for different things?

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake Bars from Awesome on 20

Luckily, cheesecake is a language we both speak. These caramel swirl cheesecake bars live on a buttery shortbread crust and are run through with sweet sticky salted caramel sauce. I love it because it’s delicious, duh, but also because it’s much easier to transport and serve than a regular cheesecake.We brought this to Geoff’s birthday party, and everybody loved it. And I made the whole thing for what it would have cost to buy one dessert at a restaurant.

This recipe is slightly simplified from the brilliant Shauna of Piece of Cake. Everything she does is beautiful.

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake Bars from Awesome on 20

No matter what version of English you speak, I think we call all agree that caramel swirl cheesecake bars are totally awesome.

Photos by Monica Szczupider

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake Bars
Serves 20
Creamy cheesecake bars swirled with caramel on a shortbread crust
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
For the crust
  1. 14 tablespoons butter, melted
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 2 cups flour
For the cheesecake
  1. 1-1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
  2. 6 tablespoons sugar
  3. 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce (if you just have regular caramel sauce, just add salt.)
For the crust
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat to 350. Cover a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil. Do your best to tuck it in smoothly in the corners and fold the extra over the side. (I'm terrible at this.)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add in the flour and mix until just combined. Your mixture will probably be very buttery. This is awesome.
  3. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. I like to use a bit of wax paper to keep the dough from sticking to my hands. This helps make a smoother layer.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The edges will be slightly brown, but the center will still be pale. Pop it on a rack to cool.
For the cheesecake
  1. Reduce your oven temp to 325.
  2. If you have an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese for a few minutes to smooth it out. If not, this will count as your workout of the day.
  3. Beat in the sugar and vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time.
  4. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and then give everything one good last mix to make sure it's all smooth and lovely.
  5. Pour the cheesecake batter over your cooled crust. Plop small spoonfuls of caramel throughout the batter. Using a butter knife, carefully swirl your caramel over the surface of the cheesecake batter. Be careful not to scrape the crust with your knife.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes. The cheesecake will still be ever so slightly wobbly in the center.
  7. Let your cheesecake cool to room temperature on a rack, then transfer it to the fridge to chill for at least four hours, overnight is better.
  8. Cut into rectangles and store in the fridge in an airtight container, if you can make them last that long.
Adapted from Shauna Sever @ Piece of Cake
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
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Check us out at Chef in Training’s link party
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