Just a gentle last-minute reminder, next week is half-term (just in case you forgot) and if your house is going to be filled with energetic little sprogs all week, now is the time to give a thought to some simple, fun yet inexpensive activities to keep them entertained. Beyond the usual ideas for keeping children busy during school holidays; painting, a trip to the park (weather permitting) or indoor games, why not give baking a go?
Kids love biscuits and traditional Bourbon biscuits are no exception. Our homemade variant of the commercial Bourbon biscuit is a worthy sweet treat for both kids and adults alike; these buttery iced morsels melt in the mouth and keep really well – for up to a week in a good airtight biscuit tin. Fresh from the oven they are like deliciously soft set cookies if the little ones can’t wait to give them a try, yet they are also absolutely spectacular as they are meant to be enjoyed – cooled and crunchy with a soft chocolatey filling, the perfect snack.
Makes around 14 whole bourbon sandwiches or 28 biscuit halves
For the biscuits:
50g unsalted butter, softened
50g margarine, softened
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
2tsp vanilla extract
110g light brown sugar
40ml agave syrup (or golden syrup)
Pinch of salt
For the chocolate butter cream filling:
35g melted chocolate
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp cocoa powder
2 large baking sheets
An oblong cookie cutter (roughly 3cm x 6cm) or a round cookie cutter
Line the baking sheets either with re-useable non-stick baking parchment or with a thin layer of flora and non-stick baking paper and preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Measure out the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, sift into a bowl and set aside. Cream together the margarine, butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then add the agave syrup and vanilla extract.
Add the dry ingredients into the fat and sugar and stir to combine. The mixture will come together to form a stiff dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to chill in fridge for 30 minutes. It can be quite a crumbly dough to work with and therefore I would advocate the use of a palette knife for transferring the biscuits (once cut) to the baking sheet.
Knead the bourbon biscuit dough with a little sieved icing sugar (do not use flour as this may alter the consistency) and roll out till is around 5mm in thickness. Use an oblong biscuit cutter about 3cm wide and 6cm in length (or use a standard round cookie cutter) to cut into biscuits, arrange on the baking sheet and use a toothpick or a skewer to dot five trademark bourbon holes along each length of the biscuit and bake for 14 – 15 minutes, depending upon the heat of your oven.
Watch the biscuits carefully as there is a small margin between underdone biscuits and burnt biscuits. They should look firm but not hard and will remain yielding for a few minutes, but they will solidify as they cool.
In the meantime whilst the biscuits bake, prepare the filling. Begin to melt the butter on a low heat and as almost all of the butter is melted, remove from the heat and add the broken up chocolate pieces. They warmth of the butter should melt them easily. If you struggle to melt the chocolate, do not return to the heat, instead bring a pan filled with an inch of water to the boil and cautiously hold it over the water as it simmers. You do not want to burn the chocolate.
Finally stir in the icing sugar to combine into a stiff butter icing.
Once you have removed the biscuits allow them to cool slightly and when they are almost completely cool (after about five minutes) use a small cutlery knife to apply to butter icing to the undersides of half of the biscuits and sandwich together with another biscuit half. Do one biscuit at a time and repeat till you have used up your biscuit halves.
If you wish you can use a small piping bag and pipe the butter cream onto the biscuits. Enjoy with warmed milk.