Intensely chocolatey and hugely addictive, these biscuits look gorgeously retro and have a nostalgic taste about them. I have friends who beg me to make bourbons, and I’m sure you will be inundated with requests too. Make lots and store them in the freezer. These are biscuits to impress.
- 110g unsalted butter, softened
- 110g soft light brown sugar
- 200g plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 40g cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- 2½ tbsp golden syrup
- granulated sugar, for sprinkling
- For the filling:
- 150g icing sugar
- 5 tsp cocoa powder
- 75g unsalted butter, softened
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tsp boiling water
- You will also need:
- Pizza wheel (optional)
Cream the butter and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder and salt. Add these sifted ingredients and the syrup to the butter mixture and combine until a dough forms. Bring it together with your hands, then divide it into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long sausage shape about 2.5 cm in diameter.Preheat the oven to 170ºC/Mark 3 and line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.Place a sausage of dough between two sheets of cling film (I prefer not to use flour because it marks the surface of the biscuits) and roll out to about 3 mm thick. Chill in the fridge whilst you repeat this process with the remaining dough.
Transfer the chilled pastry to a chopping board and use a pizza wheel or sharp knife to straighten the edges. When you have a neat shape, slice each piece into eight ‘fingers’. Traditional bourbon biscuits measure 6 x 3 cm, so if you want to create the perfect size, cut the fingers slightly smaller than this as they spread a little in the oven.
Using a palette knife, lift the biscuits onto the prepared trays, spacing them at least 2 cm apart. Now use a fine skewer to make shallow holes along the top of each biscuit – two rows of five if you’re a bourbon perfectionist.
Bake for 10 minutes, until the biscuits look dry on top, then carefully check one with a palette knife. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and press it in gently with the back of a spoon. If ready, it will be fragile but should lift cleanly and neatly away from the lining paper. If not, bake for a few more minutes, then check again. When the biscuits are done, leave them on the trays for about 15 minutes, then use a palette knife to transfer them carefully to a wire rack. They will harden as they cool.
To make the filling, sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl. (It is so tempting to miss out this step, but sifting is essential if you want a smooth buttercream.) Add the butter, vanilla and boiling water and beat well with a fork or hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Keep the buttercream at room temperature until you are ready to fill the biscuits.When the biscuits are completely cold, use a palette knife to spread the filling onto the underside side of one biscuit and gently press another biscuit on top. Sandwich all the biscuits in this way.
The completed biscuits freeze brilliantly, so why not have a secret stockpile ready to impress unexpected guests who call by for a cup of tea and a chat?