The iconic Bourbon biscuit recipe – gluten free. Dark cocoa biscuits sandwiched with traditional bourbon biscuit chocolate buttercream. Optional dairy free and vegan.
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DON’T LOSE THIS RECIPE! PIN Bourbon Biscuits FOR LATER…
The origins of the Bourbon biscuit recipe
Bourbon biscuits are a British icon. A favourite tea-time chocolate biscuit, rectangular in shape, stamped by name and filled with a very particular chocolate buttercream. They have been around forever! Well… almost. Actually… they were introduced to the biscuit-discerning British public in 1910, having been created by the equally iconic (but sadly now closed) biscuit company – Peek Freans of Bermondsey, London.
Peek Freans was a household name. Alongside the Bourbon biscuit recipe, they were responsible for bringing Custard Creams, the Garibaldi and even the Marie Biscuit to our biscuit tins.
Actually, Bourbon creams were originally named ‘Creola’. Unsurprisingly, that name didn’t really inspire temptation however and in the 1930’s, this now favourite chocolate biscuit received a rebrand… to the more exotic ‘Bourbon’ biscuit (after the French royal House of Bourbon). Clearly a good move… Bourbons are now firmly secured in our national heritage and are still a popular biscuit at tea breaks across the land. Indeed in a 2020 biscuit popularity survey, they were still at number 9 in the charts…
Is there any bourbon in a Bourbon biscuit recipe?
Despite the name, there is no bourbon whiskey (or any other alcohol) in a Bourbon biscuit recipe (although I have seen some modern recipes which add a little whiskey hit to the buttercream filling). But they do have a very distinctive flavour…
The secret to their familiarity comes from a deep cocoa hit, and a thick, rich chocolate buttercream with a hint of custard. The rectangular shape is a definite requirement to tradition, as is the fact that bourbons are sandwich biscuits.
Being a bit of a biscuit nerd, I invested in some traditional British Biscuit Cutters to get the familiar imprint. But this Bourbon biscuit recipe will taste just as amazing cut into rectangles and with no name-stamp. (Although I do wonder whether there is a psychological flavour enhancement from the expected ‘Bourbon’ markings).
Bourbon Biscuits – fun facts
Other than the name change and the fact that the Bourbon biscuit recipe contains no bourbon, this icon has a number of other ‘fun facts’ associated with it…
- The humble Bourbon was the first biscuit to be eaten on the Moon… by astronaut Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin in 1969.
- Every Bourbon is imprinted with lines of holes… 5 on each long side to be precise. This is more than just decoration. The holes are there to help steam escape during baking, resulting in a more robust biscuit.
- The Bourbon cream is a favourite biscuit for dunking into tea… which of course is a popular British ritual.
- There are now a number of gluten free commercial alternatives for Bourbon biscuits (including Schar, Asda and Morrisons). But if I’m honest, none of them come close to the expected flavour and texture you get from this homemade gluten free Bourbon biscuit recipe.
- Back in 2016, winter storms and flooding resulted in factory closures and a national biscuit shortage. Along with other favourites, Bourbon creams could not be found for love nor money.
Is this recipe dairy free and vegan?
The gluten free Bourbon biscuit recipe shared here is made with dairy butter. However, it does not contain egg or nuts and the butter can be easily substituted for a good dairy free alternative, which will make them vegan too.
As with my Gluten Free Jammie Dodgers and my Custard Creams recipe, I would recommend using an alternative such as Stork Baking Block. You may need to add a tiny extra amount of dairy free milk to loosen the dough and bring it together, but otherwise the recipe should work well.
Are Bourbon Biscuits easy to make?
You bet they are! Not only do they taste way better than shop-bought Bourbons, but they are a simple one-bowl, mix together, mould and bake biscuit. Being a stiff dough, it rolls and cuts well and should hold its shape reasonably firmly on baking.
It helps to chill the cut moulded biscuit dough before baking for a clearer imprint if using traditional British Biscuit Cutters.
What gluten free flour is best for this recipe?
I used Gluten Free Alchemist home-mixed Blend A to make my Bourbon biscuit recipe. However, a good alternative gluten free flour blend (such as Doves Freee plain white) should also work.
Be extra careful to make sure the flour you use is NOT self-raising. Any raising agent will impact the shape-stability and will distort any pattern that you’ve taken time to create.
Ready to give this gluten free Bourbon biscuit recipe a go?
If you are gluten free and love and miss good Bourbon creams, then I urge you to make this recipe. They are so deliciously cocoa, with an amazing Bourbon biscuit texture. And I promise, they are so much nicer than the gritty, rock-like versions you’ll find in the supermarkets.
If you do make them, please let me know how you get on. At GFHQ they didn’t hang around long. So, I am hoping you’ll love them as much as we did. Simply get in touch by leaving a comment, or tagging me on social media (links are at the top of the page). #glutenfreealchemist.
Looking for other gluten free biscuit recipes?
Check out our dedicated Cookies and Biscuits Index. They are all delicious, but these may inspire…
Happy baking everyone xx
Bourbon Biscuits – gluten free
- Bourbon biscuit mould or rolling pin and biscuit cutter/sharp knife
- table/butter knife
- 120 g gluten free plain flour blend I use GFA Blend A – See NOTES
- 30 g GF custard powder DF/Vegan if required
- 40 g cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp xanthan gum leave out if your flour blend already contains Xanthan gum
- pinch fine sea salt
- 110 g unsalted butter (or good DF alternative) softened (see NOTES)
- 60 g soft light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Custard Buttercream Filling
- 80 g unsalted butter (or good DF alternative) softened
- 120 g icing sugar (powdered confectioners sugar)
- 20 g custard powder DF/Vegan if required
- 12 g cocoa powder
- ½ tsp INSTANT espresso coffee powder optional
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp caster sugar optional
Make the biscuit dough
- Prepare a large baking tray by lining with good-quality non-stick baking paper.
- In a smallish bowl, weigh and mix together the flour, custard powder, cocoa, xanthan gum and salt and stir well to blend. Set aside.
- In a larger bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, golden syrup and vanilla extract until light, pale and smooth. This is easiest with an electric whisk.
- Gradually add and beat in the dry mix (about a quarter at a time) until well blended and the dough starts to come together. If making a dairy free/vegan version, it will help to add ½ to 1 tbsp of DF milk at this point to support binding and to add extra lightness to the dough. This is NOT necessary if making with dairy butter.
- Work the dough into an even, smooth block using a firm mixing spoon or spatula.
Using a Bourbon Biscuit Mould
- If using a Bourbon Biscuit mould, very lightly dust the surface with flour.
- Use a flat butter knife to transfer about a teaspoon of biscuit dough into the mould and spread roughly-evenly.
- Place the mould against a piece of baking paper on a firm surface and push down reasonably firmly on the plunger for a few seconds to even out the dough and ensure a good imprint.
- Push and gently 'shake' the moulded biscuit out onto the prepared baking tray. Each biscuit should be about ¾ cm in depth. If too thick or thin, adjust the amount of dough added to the mould (until you find a happy point) and re-use the dough of any biscuits you are unhappy with. It may help to part-push up the mould plunger to see how thick the biscuit will be and scrape of excess dough with a flat knife before plunging.
- Repeat the process of dusting, filling and moulding for all the dough.
Rolling and cutting the dough by hand
- If you are not using a mould, place the dough on a piece of baking paper very lightly dusted with flour and lightly dust the dough top.
- Carefully roll the dough to a thickness of about ¾ cm (if you want a pattern, use an embossed rolling pin).
- Cut the cookies into equal oblong biscuit shapes using a cookie cutter or sharp knife.
- Using a fine skewer tip, poke a line of holes down each long side of each cut biscuit dough.
- Carefully transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
- Repeat the process, bringing any remaining dough back together until all the dough has been used. Try not to add too much flour or excessively work the dough.
Chill the dough
- Place the tray of dough biscuits in the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill, or alternatively in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- When the biscuits have chilled, rearrange on the tray if necessary to space evenly.
Baking the biscuits
- Bake the biscuits for 12 to 14 minutes until just starting to darken slightly at the edges.
- Remove from the oven and leave on the baking tray to cool completely.
Chocolate Custard Buttercream
- In a medium to large bowl, beat the softened butter until light, pale and smooth.
- Gradually add the icing sugar, custard powder, cocoa, coffee (if using) and vanilla and beat through until smooth and creamy.
Sandwich the biscuits together
- To sandwich the biscuits into Bourbon Creams, pair the biscuits.
- Take one biscuit from each pair and spread a generous dollop of buttercream across the surface (making sure the pattern is on the outer side).
- Sandwich with its biscuit pair and gently push together.
- For a neat effect, use a chopstick or small rounded fondant tool to scrape any excess buttercream from the sides of each biscuit.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Will stay fresh for at least a week.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist
Gluten Free Bourbon Biscuit Recipe shared with
- Cook Blog Share with Recipes Made Easy
- The Great Cookie Exchange with The Lazy Gastronome
- Full Plate Thursday #508 with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
- Fiesta Friday #352 with Angie
- Over The Moon #252 with Eclectic Red Barn and Marilyn’s Treats
- What’s for Dinner #287 with The Lazy Gastronome
- Blogger’s Pit Stop #245
Hi, can I freeze these biscuits once baked and defrost when I need them for my 4 year old son?
Although it’s not something I’ve tried, I’ve been told by another reader who made them that they froze well. They should also last pretty well unfrozen x
One of my favourite biscuits since I was a kid. I am eyeing this since the day I saw the pic, they look so good and making at home is a win win situation. I am trying this for sure.
Thank you so much Renu… Bourbons are definitely nostalgic biscuits… and still as yummy as they were when I was 8! xx
Helen at the Lazy Gastronome says
I’d have those for dinner!! AND dessert! They sound awesome! Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner party!! Hope your week is wonderful!
Thank you Helen. I think we already did 😂 x
Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie says
Wow = these look so good! I bet they taste even better than the original 😀
Thank you so much Eb. Without a doubt they are better than the originals xx
Chloe Edges | Feast Glorious Feast says
I can’t work out if they’re massive biscuits or a tiny cup of tea but either way I am so down for some dunking of these bad boys!
Ha! It’s the tiniest of cups… But I could probably down a few massive biscuits too xx
This looks amazing. I’m going to try this. So happy to have found this post on bloggers pitstop!
Thank you Doreen. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have xx
Kat (The Baking Explorer) says
Oh these look heavenly! Chunku chocolate yummyness!
They are so much better in texture than the shop-bought ones. But still have the iconic flavours you’d expect xx
I have one quick question. American brown and white rice flours are so grainy that it feels like you’re chewing on smashed up stones. Would using the ultrafine ground version of these flours present a problem? I have Authentic brand superfine rice flours. Thank you!
I know exactly what you mean about rice flour… I really don’t like the texture, which is why I always so careful to blend flours to avoid the ‘grit’.
The basic flour blend used is a combination of fine rice flours, tapioca, cornstarch and potato for balance and to get the right binding consistency right for the biscuits. And custard powder in the UK is basically flavoured cornstarch.
Have you checked out the Blend A recipe at the bottom of my flours page?
For substituting rice flour though, the finer the grind the better… so yes… the sub you suggest should be fine.
I hope that helps xx
Jacqui – Recipes Made Easy:Only Crumbs Remain says
These biscuits look the business. I’ve never been a big fan of the shop-bought variety (although I will eat them as who can say no to a biscuit) but I bet these taste far far nicer! Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogshare
Thanks Jacqui. You’re welcome.
I know exactly what you mean… but yes… they are way better than shop ones xx