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Empire biscuits close up with one on its side with a bite taken out showing the jammy centre
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5 from 1 vote

Empire Biscuits

There's something about Empire biscuits that makes them irresistible to all ages. These crunchy vanilla shortbreads are sandwiched together with a layer of jam, slathered in glossy icing and adorned with a glacé cherry. There's nothing not to love about them.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: British, Scottish
Diet: Vegetarian
Servings: 20
Calories: 255kcal


For the Shortbread biscuits

  • 400 g Plain flour all-purpose
  • 50 g Rice flour or cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 125 g Caster sugar
  • 225 g Butter let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • 2 egg yolks small
  • teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Water ice-cold

For the filling and Topping

  • 6 tablespoon Raspberry jam
  • 10 Glacé cherries
  • 200 g Icing sugar
  • Water


Bake the Biscuits

  • In a medium-sized bowl mix together the flours, sugar and salt. Cube the butter then add to the bowl. Using your fingertips, gently rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs
  • Add the egg yolks and vanilla bean paste and use a blunt knife to mix it briefly, then use your hands to bring everything together to form a dough. This may take a few minutes and you may need to add up to 1 tablespoon ice-cold water if your dough seems too crumbly. Knead gently to produce a smooth biscuit dough
  • Once a firm dough has been achieved split it in half and roll one half out on a lightly floured worktop to a depth of 3mm. Keep turning the dough 90 degrees after each roll of the pin to prevent it from sticking to the worktop and keep the pin and worktop lubricated with flour as required
  • Use 6-7cm cookie cutters to stamp out the biscuits. Scoop up the remaining dough and set it aside. Repeat with the other half of the dough
  • Press both piles of leftover dough together and re-roll to cut out more biscuits. Aim for 36-40 biscuits in total
  • Lay the biscuits onto lined baking sheets (leave 1cm space), cover loosely and chill for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 160C/ 320F/ GM 3½
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until just beginning to turn golden (rotate the baking sheets midway through cooking to achieve an even bake)
  • Once baked transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

Finishing the Biscuits

  • When ready to decorate drain the cherries from any syrup and cut in half
  • Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with water to form a stiff but spreadable icing. Start with ½ tablespoon of water than add more in ⅛ teaspoon increments, mixing well between each addition. It should be thick enough to spread and not run over the edges of the biscuits
  • To assemble, spread a little jam over the base of one biscuit and press another biscuit onto the top to form a sandwich. Spread some icing onto the top of the biscuit and finally garnish with a cherry half. Repeat with the remaining biscuits



Cooking Tips

  • Let the butter sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before using. It will be easier to rub in and the dough will come together more quickly
  • Use digital scales to measure your ingredients - the cup system is less accurate and I never recommend it for baking recipes
  • Shortbread dough should be a little crumbly. If it's too wet, the crisp, melt in the mouth biscuit texture will not be achieved. When making by hand it can take a few minutes for all the ingredients to fully bind. Keep on going, it will eventually form a dough firm enough to roll out. Don't forget to add up to 1 tablespoon ice-cold water to help it bind if necessary
  • Once the mixture has formed a dough firm enough to roll out stop working it. Over-worked shortbread dough leads yields tough and chewy biscuits
  • This recipe makes 18-20 complete Empire biscuits if using 6 ½ cm cookie cutters. Use smaller or large cutters if desired
  • Chill the cut biscuits for at least 30 minutes before baking. This helps the butter firm up before cooking begins. It can then melt slowly as the biscuits cook, making the shortbread light and tender
  • Don't rush the cooking. Alternative recipes may suggest higher temperatures and shorter cooking times, but for best results cook these Empire biscuits for 20-25 minutes at 160C/ 320F
  • When making the icing start by adding ½ tablespoon of water then keep on adding in ⅛ teaspoon increments after that to achieve the ideal spreading consistency. It needs to be loose enough to spread with a knife but not loose enough to run off the biscuits as it sets
  • Half a cherry on top of each biscuit makes a big statement. For a more delicate look chop cherries into smaller pieces or use Jelly Tots or similar sweets for some childish fun


Storage Instructions

The best way to store cookies and biscuits is in an airtight glass jar with a tight-fighting lid. I use a large Kilner jar with a clip-down lid. Stored like this these biscuits will stay fresh for around 7 days.
Note: when stored in alternative jars, tins or tupperware containers my biscuits soften within a couple of days.


Serving: 1biscuit | Calories: 255kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 98mg | Potassium: 33mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 307IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg