The Cookies of Insanity, or Warren Buffett’s Shortbread



What, you mean you haven’t seen The Princess Bride? What has this world come to? In determining the degree of insanity involved in this cookie recipe, I wanted to be able to make a comparison to some other well-known insanity. Maybe it’s not so well-known, but the first thing that came to mind, was the cliffs of insanity, from The Princess Bride, only my second favorite movie of all time, after The 5000 Fingers of Doctor T. I guess obscurity is its own reward.

ingredients  mixing  naked_shortbread

So why are these cookies so insane? They’re just shortbread. Shortbread made with matcha (green tea) powder. Covered with condensed milk caramel. Boiled down to be really brown and toasty. Coated with dark chocolate. Deep, dark chocolate. Is that so insane? Fine, forget you, sanity, I’m going with the cookies.

the_dough  melty_goodness  ooh_caramel

Wait, what does Warren Buffett have to do with it? (Admit it, you thought I’d forgotten about him or that it was simply another facet of the insanity factor). Warren Buffett, in case you haven’t picked up a newspaper or checked in on FB or anywhere else for about a million years, is a well-known billionaire. In the UK, a popular sweet composed of a layer of shortbread, a layer of condensed milk caramel, and a layer of chocolate, is known as “Millionaire’s Shortbread.” These cookies, inspired by those cookies, are so rich, so ever so much only more so, that I want to call them “Billionaire’s Shortbread.” If Warren Buffett wants some, I will gladly send him some.

ooh_chocolate  cutting_up

O.K., you can relax, the long-winded portion of this post (or some of it) is over, and I’ll get to the main event. Why I made these cookies and, alright already, the recipe.

Why did I make these cookies?* Because I loooove them so much! No, seriously, they’re very, very good. Or at least I think so. The long and winding road of inspiration goes back about three years to an event at my kid’s school, an event for which I decided to bring these cookies,, found along the wayside of my web-based meanderings. I love Smitten Kitchen,, and Deb Perelman is a genius and a saint, but when I made the dough, it seemed very dry. So I threw in a ton of somewhat more butter to make it better (just like Betty and her batter—if you’ve heard of her, you must be O.L.D., like me). The butter helped, but it was hard to roll out. However…

Yet another obsession, yearning to breathe free, was my love of a locally made sweet, Claire’s Squares, a version of, you guessed it, Millionaire’s Shortbread. I had already been trying (with only marginal success) to reproduce these at home. Inspiration struck—I have yet to recover—what would happen if I made this using green tea shortbread? The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind, the answer…sorry, wrong post. The answer is in the recipe and the proof is in the pudding, or, in this case, in the shortbread.

Bake, eat, enjoy.

Green Tea Millionaire’s Shortbread

2 cups / 250 grams unbleached flour
1/4 cup /31 grams cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 + cup / 70 grams powdered sugar
3 tbsp. / 18 grams matcha (green tea powder)
18.75 tbsp. / 260 grams unsalted** butter, softened
3/8 cup / 75 grams granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel Topping
4 oz. (1/2+ cup packed) / 113 grams dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. / 40 grams Lyle’s golden syrup
4 oz. / 113 grams butter (salted is ok!)
1/2 – 14 oz. tin / 195 grams sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp. salt

+ 6–8 oz. /168–224 grams bittersweet chocolate feves or chopped chocolate (you can also use chocolate chips, milk or semi-sweet chocolate—whatever you prefer)

Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter a 9 x 9 baking dish and line with parchment paper, leaving an inch or so overhang. Butter the parchment paper. Whisk dry ingredients together. Cream butter until smooth and then add the granulated sugar and mix until well combined and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl and then add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Press into the prepared baking dish to make a smooth layer and bake until it firms up to the touch or is very slightly browned, about 25 minutes.

Caramel topping
In a medium sauce pan, cook the brown sugar and golden syrup until it begins to bubble and caramelize. Add the butter and stir until well-blended, then the condensed milk and cook at medium low heat for 5–7 minutes until the mixture has thickened.

Spread the caramel over the shortbread in an even layer and return to the oven for 5–10 minutes.

Once out of the oven, sprinkle the feves or chocolate chips over the top and let sit for about 5 minutes before smoothing it over the top with an offset spatula. You can also use tempered chocolate (I did not have good success with tempering the chocolate for the cookies that I shipped; they still tasted great, but you can see in the pictures that the tempering was strange. However, I subsequently found these great instructions on Alice Medrich’s website:

Let cool completely in the pan—refrigerating for a short time is not a bad idea—before using the parchment overhang to remove it from the pan. Using a hot knife***, slice into as many squares as you like; it’s very rich so 1″ squares are a good size for a cookie tray, or 2″ squares for eating singly.

** You can also use high-quality salted butter in the shortbread dough.

*** I pour boiling water over the knife, wipe it completely dry and then wipe with paper towels between each cut. I repeat the boiling water as necessary.

*I also made these cookies because, once again, it was time for the Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap: Not that I needed an excuse—I look for reasons to make these cookies the way that dogs look for reasons to chase sticks—i.e., who needs a reason. Thanks to Jennifer,, for the delicious gingersnaps (woohoo, my kid doesn’t eat gingersnaps, so the husband guy and I got all of them) and Sam,, for the delicious eggnog snickerdoodles rolled in gingersnap sugar (which were selflessly shared with the kid as well as the husband guy). The third cookies are a mystery. Did the mail carrier eat them? Did somebody nab them off my porch? I don’t know. Perhaps it was not meant to be.
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1 Response to The Cookies of Insanity, or Warren Buffett’s Shortbread

  1. Farrah says:

    I love green tea in desserts! ❤ Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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