These Empire Cookies are made with raspberry jam, sandwiched between two delicious shortbread cookies. A simple glaze is then drizzled on top, followed by a sliver of red or green candied cherry for these pretty cookies.
They're perfect for Christmas baking and cookie exchanges and look stunning on holiday cookie platters.
What are Empire cookies?
Empire cookies usually are made with two shortbread cookies sandwiched between a layer of raspberry jam. The cookie is topped with a layer of icing with the literal cherry on top!
The origin of the name 'Empire cookie' is not well known but it is believed to be an acknowledgment towards to the British Empire perhaps during World War II.
Some may also know these cookies as Empire biscuits or classic Scottish iced cookies with raspberry jam and also German biscuits.
It is a very popular cookie found in bakeries all year long in Canada, Scotland, Germany and Northern Ireland.
They are similar to German Linzer cookies but Linzer cookies differ with its classic windowpane design, they can have a powdered sugar top and often have ground nuts like hazelnuts chopped up in the dough.
My husbands family's holiday tradition is to search all year for the best quality raspberry jam to try out for making these Empire cookies in their Christmas baking.
Shortbread lovers be sure to try them next!!
Why you'll love this recipe
- These cookies are so easy to make with just a little effort in the kitchen.
- Classic buttery shortbread flavor combined with the sweet jam and icing make it a delicious cookie all year and during the holidays.
- We love making these Empire Cookies in a miniature, smaller size, as well as the regular size as they are perfect for Christmas cookie trays.
- The cookies are even better the next day as the flavors meld together
Ingredients for classic Empire cookies
- Butter - you will need butter at room temperature. Take it out of the fridge 30 to 60 minutes before you start the recipe.
- Granulated sugar
- Egg - use a large egg, at room temperature.
- Vanilla - I always like to use pure vanilla extract for baking recipes for the best flavor.
- All purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Raspberry Jam
- Powdered sugar
- Candied red and/or green cherries
Step by step instructions for making classic Scottish iced cookies with raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl or bowl from a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg, then vanilla until well-combined.
In a separate, medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating on low speed of mixer after each addition.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to ⅛-inch thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut into 2 and ¼-inch rounds. You can use a traditional, larger round cookie cutter as well.
Transfer unbaked cookies to prepared cookie sheets and bake in 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Keep a close eye on them as they can brown quickly once they're done.
Cool completely on wire racks for at least 30 minutes.
Assemble the Empire cookies
Spread a thin layer of jam on one cookie, being careful not to spread too thickly at the edges. Top with second cookie and press down slightly. Set aside and repeat with remaining cookies.
Make the Icing
In a small mixing bowl, combine icing sugar (and almond extract if using). Stir in hot water. The consistency should be spreadable but not too runny.
Spread icing on cookie tops, not quite to the edge of the cookie. Slice cherries into small pieces and top each cookie with a cherry.
Variations for Empire cookie recipe
This can be a controversial addition or subtraction from any Empire cookie recipe. Empire cookie lovers have very strong opinions as to whether they prefer vanilla or almond extract in Empire biscuits.
Our best variation for German biscuits or classic Scottish iced cookies with jam as you might know them is to add almond extract to the icing.
Start with an ⅛ of a teaspoon to the icing and sample, adjusting as needed for your preferences.
For some who love almond extract in their Empire cookies, vanilla extract would be a variation for them.
We have a preference please tell us what you prefer.
Top tips for making iced shortbread jam cookies
- Use room temperature butter and eggs
- Pure vanilla extract is best to use for the best flavor
- A good quality raspberry jam will also improve the flavor
- Give the jam a good stir before you spread it on the cookies so it spreads better
- The number of cookies this recipe makes depends on the size of the cookies you cut out
- Let the cookies sit overnight before serving as the icing softens into the cookie making them even more delicious
Storage Instructions for Empire biscuits
You can store cooled Empire cookies in an airtight container for 3 - 5 days or in the fridge for up to 7 days. Separate the layers using parchment paper to prevent the cookies from sticking together.
Can you freeze Empire cookies?
Yes you can! Empire cookies freeze very well using parchment paper to seperate the layers, stored in a freezer-safe container for 1 month.
It is best to freeze the shortbread cookies before jamming them into a sandwich or icing them.
Freeze the un-iced shortbread cookies in a freezer-safe container for 2 - 3 months.
Thaw overnight in the fridge then jam and decorate them with icing and candied cherry before serving. They will be delicious!
You can also try these cookies
- Cherry shortbread cookies
- Glazed fruitcake shortbread cookies
- Maraschino cherry thumbprint cookies
- Ricotta cookies
- Butter pecan meltaways
- Snowball cookies