Homemade Bourbon Biscuits

Saturday 30 January 2021

I think that one of the favourite of all the British Biscuits/cookies (next to Custard Creams and Digestives)  has to be the traditional Bourbon Biscuit. Created in 1910 by the iconic British biscuit makers Peek Freans they are today one of the most popular cookies on the market.
Although I had not seen Peek Freans in the UK  when I lived there, I was quite familiar with them in Canada.  And indeed every Biscuit company in the UK has their own version of these iconic cookies!

There are still Peak Frean Cookies here in Canada. I have seen them in the store, athough I understand that they are no longer in the UK. I love/adore the jam and cream filled ones myself! 

I do love these crisp chocolate bourbon biscuits however. The bourbon name however, comes from the French Royal House of Bourbon!


Bourbin Biscuits are always rectangular in shape and sport small holes across the surface.  These holes are said to prevent the biscuits from cracking during the baking process, allowing any steam to escape. 

I use a rectangular serrated edged cookie cutter which also sports little nibs that easily dock the holes into the cookies. If you don't have one of these you can just cut them out into retangles and then poke holes in with a skewer.

I am lucky enough to have another piece that I could use from another cookie cutter that enabled me to be able to press the name bourbon into the cookies. I only did this on the top sides. 

A basic Bourbon Biscuit is a beautiful thing to behold and to eat.  Rich and chocolatey. Crisp and buttery. Filled with a lush chocolate butter cream.  Temptingly good with a nice hot cuppa tea or a cold glass of milk.

I have been known to scarf down more than one of these in one sitting I confess.  They are that delicious. And, another confession here, these homemade ones actually taste better than the store made versions.

But isn't that true with just about anything?  I like knowing exactly what is in my food and try as best as I can to make my own homemade versions of most things.  Using ingredients with name I can pronounce and as few additives, chemicals and preservatives as possible.

If you are what you eat (and they (whoever they are) say that you are) then I would rather be something identifiable. I am often horrified when I read the sides of packaging.  I mean, who is it exactly that decided what level of chemicals are safe for human consumption.

My sister pointed out to me the other day that some of the cakes and treats we eat that have been manufactured as safe for human consumption actually have the same ingredients in them that windshield washer fluid has in it, etc. I am not sure we should really be eating those things, safe levels or not!

They say (they again) that what you don't know doesn't hurt you.  But once you know these things, you can't un-know them.  What is potassium hydroxide when its at home?

I'll tell you what.  It is lye. Commonly known as Caustic Potash.  Should it really be in our food? I think not, but it is. Once you start reading labels and investigating them you have opened a real can of worms, let me tell you!

And so I am trying hard to make as much as I can from scratch and "known" ingredients.  My sister goes even further and uses only organic ingredients.  I am not sure my budget really stretches that far, but we will see.

We have to do what we have to do.  I only know I don't want to be eating paint thinner and varnish remover, however safe they say the levels are to eat. If it can burn your skin at high levels and damage your lungs if you breathe it in, I don't want to be eating it.

There is none of that nasty stuff in these delicious cookies.  Only pure, safe, edible ingredients.  Flour, cocoa powder, syrup, soda, milk and sugar. 

They are a bit of work with the kneading and rolling out for sure, but such a small amount of effort really for such a fantastically tasty result. Just look at how crisp they are!  And that chocolate filling . . .  wow.

Lush and delicious. Borrowed and adapted from Jamie Magazine. (It also gave me the opportunity to use my new biscuit cutter and word stamp thingie. I got them here.) 

With or without the cutter and the word stamp, these are beautiful biscuits. I really think you should prepare yourself to fall in love. You have been warned.  You might also want to put the kettle on because a hot cup of tea, herbal or otherwise is a real treat with a few of these.  Just saying!

Yield: Makes 14 cream filled cookies
Author: Marie Rayner
Homemade Bourbon Biscuits

Homemade Bourbon Biscuits

Moreishly rich and buttery chocolate cookies filled a lush chocolate cream filling.


For the Cookies:
  • 50g unsalted butter (3 1/2 TBS)
  • 50g soft light brown sugar (4 TBS packed)
  • 1 TBS golden syrup (can use cornsyrup)
  • 110g plain flour (very scant cup)
  • 20g cocoa powder (not the drink mix, scant 3 TBS)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 to 2 tsp milk
  • golden caster sugar for sprinkling
For the filling:
  • 50g of unsalted butter, softened (3 1/2 TBS)
  • 75g of sifted icing sugar (generous half cup)
  • 1 TBS cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 to 2 tsp bourbon (you can use vanilla in it's place)


  1. Preheat the oven to 150*C/300*F/ gas mark 3. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the golden syrup until smooth.
  3. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, salt and soda together in a beaker. Sift this into the creamed mixture.
  4. Add the milk a bit at a time, until you get a soft even dough. It should be a bit crumbly, but should have the promise of holding together.
  5. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about a minute, until it comes completely together.
  6. Roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin about 1/4 inch thick. (I rolled mine out onto baking parchment so that I did not have to use a lot of flour.)
  7. Cut out into rectangles. If you like you can dot holes into the dough with the end of a skewer.
  8. Sprinkle with caster sugar and then carefully lift onto the prepared baking sheet with a metal spatula, leaving some space in between the biscuits.
  9. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Carefully lift onto a wire rack to cool completely before proceeding.
  10. To make the filling, cream the butter together with the icing sugar, cocoa powder and enough bourbon to give you a fluffy evenly coloured mixture.
  11. Spread a heaped teaspoon onto each of half the baked biscuits and then top with another one, pressing down lightly.
  12. Repeat until all the biscuits are filled. Store in an airtight container.


Caster sugar is a fine type of granulated sugar. You can use regular granulated sugar in its place. In North America Organic granulated sugar is very close to golden caster sugar in colour. You can use regular white granulated with no adverse results

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Homemade Bourbon Biscuits

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  1. I've never heard of these biscuits, but they do sound lovely. I haven't a fancy cutter, but I can make them round with fluted edges and fill them. I'm sure we will love them. I'm fresh out of cocoa powder (I used the last to make your Dark & Delicious Chocolate Cake this week) and there was none at the shop yesterday. I'll have to add it to my delivery order for next week and hope they get it in. Imagine being out of something as basic cocoa powder!

  2. My siblings and I used to fight over who got the Bourbon cookies in the variety pack of Peak Freans. I'll have to make these soon. We're having liver and onions for dinner tonight. I'm going to check and see if you have a recipe, Marie. Sunny, bright and very cold here today. Take gentle care. Thanks for all your very good recipes. Love and hugs, Elaine


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