I learned to make empire biscuits from my grandmother who immigrated to the US from Scotland when she was a girl. The base of the cookie is a classic shortbread recipe (they are good on their own) but then you sandwich these shortbread cookies together with raspberry jam and top them with a sugar glaze and cherry to make them extra special. Whether you make shortbread or the full empire biscuit they are a great holiday cookie!
Your Time: 1 Hour
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons whole milk
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
6 glazed cherries, cut in half
To make the shortbread cookies: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula, mix together the butter, sugar and salt until evenly combined. Next, stir in the flour until the dough forms a ball and you no longer see any streaks of flour; the dough may look slightly cracked but this is fine.
On a clean, flat work surface, lay out a sheet of parchment paper that is 9x13 inches. Place the dough in the center and then top with another sheet of 9x13 inch parchment paper. Using your hands, press the dough into the same shape as the parchment. When it becomes thin enough you can switch to a rolling pin to ensure the dough is rolled out evenly; when you are done the dough should be 1/4-inch thick. Remove the top piece of parchment and place it on a baking sheet. Using a 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter, biscuit cutter or top of a glass, cut the dough into 24 rounds. You can bring the scraps of dough together and roll it out again if needed. Place the cookie rounds on the lined sheet tray and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Place the remaining sheet of parchment onto a second baking sheet.
After the cookies are refrigerated, divide the rounds evenly between the two parchment lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2-inch space between each cookie. Bake in the preheated oven for 22 minutes, or until the shortbread is just set and beginning to turn a pale, golden brown around the edges. Shortbread shouldn't get too much color when baking. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes.
While the cookies cool, make the sugar glaze. In a small bowl whisk together the confectioner's sugar and milk until a thick, smooth glaze forms. When the cookies are cool, dip 12 cookie tops, one at a time, into the glaze. Lift the cookie just slightly about the glaze and hold there while the excess glaze drips off. Invert onto the cooling rack again and place a half of glazed cherry in the center, before the glaze sets.
To the remaining 12 cookies, evenly spread 1 teaspoon of the raspberry jam on the inside, making sure the jam is spread evenly to the edges. When the glaze on the other cookies have set, sandwich the two together so the glaze is on top and jam is in the center. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container, with parchment between each layer, for up to 1 week.