A bourbon biscuit is one of my favourite biscuits, but I had never made them fully before.
What I crave in a bourbon biscuit is:
- a very crisp biscuit (it has to be crisp)
- a nice chocolate flavour through both the biscuit and the filling
- and “something else” flavour-wise that makes it not just a chocolate biscuit!
And I couldn’t quite put my finger on the “something else” at the time until I tried a few recipes!
A special cutter
I used a bourbon biscuit cutter, made by Dexam, which are much easier and quicker than cutting out by hand – let alone trying to get a pattern on each.
I did try by hand a few years ago, without a cutter, but the patterning and even very basic lettering on top was a step too far: those are the times when life is too short!
These cutters are wonderful: very easy to use and they make the biscuits look like they should look!
You can just cut the dough into rectangular fingers if you don’t have a cutter, and just prick the cut-out dough with a fork for total ease. Or even use circular cutters for a very different look: they will still taste great.
About the recipe
I worked through a few of the recipes that can be found online, but in the end I tweaked the biscuit recipe that was given with the manufacturer of the cutter (Dexam).
I incorporated some caramelised sugar (see below) and a little vanilla extract: and it was these that gave the subtle flavour kick for me, with the caramelised sugar adding a very slight bitter-sweet kick in the biscuit. As soon as I ate one from that batch, I realised that was the flavour I was after! But you can use demerera sugar instead of caramelised sugar.
Crucially, these biscuits dunk very well into tea or coffee – and I think that is so important in a biscuit!!
I went for a chocolate buttercream with just a hint of coffee, but I have also made it with a ganache filling.
You can add a little bourbon whisky, reduced to a syrup and beaten into the filling, but I don’t think the filling needs it!
This is simple to make, and a little swapped like-for-like in cakes and biscuits works a treat. You essentially make a caramel, let it set and then blitz it to a fine powder:
– put 100g or so of granulated sugar in a small pan (not not-stick) along with a couple of tablespoons of cold water.
– heat it gently, shaking the pan from time to time to help the sugar dissolve into the water.
– once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and bring it to the boil, allowing it to boil until it turns a deep golden brown caramel. As soon as it reaches this colour, turn off the heat and pour it over a baking tray lined with silicone sheet.
– let it cool and harden. You then snap off bits of the caramel and blitz in a food processer to give fine caramelised sugar.
You can keep the caramelised sugar in an airtight container for a few weeks: even if it loses its powdery texture, you can still use it, as it will dissolve easily in a mixture as you beat it.
Recipe for bourbon biscuits – makes about 25 filled biscuits
- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 40g soft brown sugar
- 60g caramelised sugar (see above) or demerara sugar
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 220g plain flour
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 45g cocoa powder
- a little caster sugar for sprinkling on top
- 50g best quality dark chocolate (70% solids)
- 50g unsalted butter, softened
- 50g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon coffee granules dissolved with a little hot water
(1) Beat the butter, brown sugar and caramelised sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the golden syrup and the vanilla.
(2) Sift in the flour, cocoa and salt and incorporate with your hands to give a fairly firm, but not sticky dough: it should be slightly shiny. Don’t over-work it. Chill for 30 minutes.
(3) Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3mm: you need them quite thin otherwise they become too chunky when they have baked.
(4) Cut out rectangular shapes, ideally with a “bourbon biscuit” cutter. Place on baking trays lined with greasproof paper and sprinkle over a little caster sugar.
(5) Chill for a further 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 130C(fan) while the dough chills. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Leave the biscuits on the greaseproof for a few minutes to firm up a little before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully, during which time they will crisp up.
(6) Make the chocolate filling: beat the butter and icing sugar for several minutes until it is very light and creamy. Stir in the melted chocolate and a little of the coffee, beating well to incorporate. Add more coffee to taste: you want just a hint of the coffee flavour here.
(7) Pipe or spoon the filling onto half of the biscuits: you want a generous but not excessive amount.
(8) Sandwich together pairs of biscuits, pressing the tops gently to fix them to the filling. Store in an airtight container.