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.
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 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?
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
- Kitchen scales
- Baking tray
- baking paper
- Mixing bowls
- electric whisk
- Large mixing spoon or spatula
- 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.
© 2019-2021 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
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