Everyone needs a go-to cookie recipe for their Christmas baking, and here’s mine: the delicious Empire Biscuit. A dollop of raspberry jam sandwiched between two buttery shortbread biscuits, glazed with white icing and a cherry on top. You can’t tell me your mouth isn’t starting to water! Not only are these cookies incredibly tasty, but they’re pretty on a plate and are always the first to go at our holiday parties. Empire Biscuits are also really easy to make, and require ingredients you (probably) already have in your pantry.
Let’s get baking!
Fun Fact: Empire Biscuits were called “German Biscuits” (per Wikipedia) until the first World War when their name was changed (though where people were finding the sugar to bake them during the War remains a mystery. Rationing, people, it sucked). They’re still very popular in the UK (and Canada!) so for years my Mediterranean mom experimented with recipes until they passed my Irish-British dad’s taste tests. My Empire Biscuit recipe has also been tried and approved by my Scottish in-laws, so rest assured this is the real deal folks.
- a stand mixer or hand mixer
- parchment paper
- 2 cookie sheets
- a cookie cutter (I use a 2”)
- a rolling pin
I prefer keeping it simple with the shortbread recipe – the original source for this shortbread recipe is here. This variation made 24 cookies.
- 1 ½ cups butter
- ¾ cup brown sugar, packed (you can also use white or cane sugar)
- 3 – 3 ½ cups flour
- jar raspberry jam (you will likely use about ⅓ cup)
- 2 cups icing sugar
- ½ cup maraschino cherries
- 2 – 3 cups mulled wine
Step 1: Preheat oven to 325F
Ladle yourself a generous cup of mulled wine (this recipe isn’t nearly as difficult as the Candy Cane Fudge, so feel free to indulge a bit)!
Step 2: Cream the butter
Cream the butter on high speed for about 3 minutes in a stand mixer or 5 minutes with a hand mixer.
Step 3: Add brown sugar
Slowly add brown sugar and cream butter and sugar together for another 3 – 5 minutes. The goal is to really whip up the butter; this will give the cookie a nice crumble.
Step 4: Add flour one cup at a time
Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour one cup at a time. Wait until the first cup of flour is fully incorporated before adding the next cup. Once the dough is firm and a bit crumbly you’re done
Step 5: Roll out the dough
On a lightly floured surface roll out your dough to about ⅓” thick. Put a piece of parchment on the cookie trays then cut out the cookies and lay them on the cookie tray.
Step 6: Bake cookies for 8 – 10 minutes
The cookies are ready when they are slightly golden on the edges. Let them cool on a wire rack.
Step 7: Rinse the maraschino cherries under cold water
Leave them to dry on a paper towel (this is so the cherries don’t bleed into the icing).
Step 8: Take a break for an hour or two
The shortbread needs time to cool down and settle. Put your feet up and snuggle your cat. Start S2 of Downton Abbey.
Step 9: Assemble the biscuits
Sandwich a teaspoon size dollop of jam between two cookies; let the cookies set for about 30 minutes on the counter
Step 10: Make the icing
Pour 1 ½ cups of the icing sugar into a bowl; begin by adding about ⅛ – ¼ cup of milk. Mix until the milk is incorporated. If the icing is still too thick continue adding milk, about a teaspoon full at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. The icing should be spreadable, but still thick enough not to run down the sides of the biscuits.
Step 11: Spread icing on cookies
Let icing set for a few minutes; chop the cherries in half then place them cut side down in the icing.
Once the icing has completely set,around an hour or so, store the cookies in an airtight container (they should keep for a few weeks in the fridge).
Arrange biscuits artfully on a plate for your nearest and dearest and watch as they rapidly disappear. Accept all compliments with dignity.