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20110802

Traditional Empire Cookie Recipe

Empire Cookies are a traditional British treat made from two thin shortbread cookies sandwiched together with raspberry jam filling, topped with almond frosting and a cherry. They are very popular indeed and, no wonder, they taste great. Here is how I made mine.



Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (icing or confectioners sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Raspberry jam
  • Candied cherries

Preparation

  • Allow the butter to come to room temperature so that it is quite soft, then beat it with an electric mixer until it is well creamed
  • Add the caster sugar and mix again until the sugar is well blended into the creamed butter. Don't make any shortcuts at this stage if you want your shortbread to be light and tasty
  • Mix the flour and salt together then slowly add it to the creamed butter/sugar mix as you stir the dough. Keep the dough smooth but do not overwork it
  • Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least fifteen minutes to allow the very soft dough to stiffen up and be more workable
  • Roll the dough to a half centimeter thickness on a floured board then cut it into circular pieces a couple of inches in diameter with a cookie cutter or the rim of a coffee mug
  • Place each cookie on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray and bake at 350C for about 10 minutes or until the cookies are very slightly brown (do not overbake)
  • Mix the powdered sugar with a very small amount of boiling water to make a firm but not thick frosting, then stir in the almond extract
  • When the cookies have completely cooled, spread half of them with raspberry jam and the other half with frosting, then place the frosted cookies on top of the ones coated with raspberry jam so that the jam is in the middle and the frosting is on top
  • Finally, decorate each empire cookie with half a candied cherry

John's Notes
The preparation sounds more complicated than it really is. You can make a batch of empire cookies in less than half an hour and they really do taste terrific. If you don't have any caster sugar in your kitchen simply put some regular, granulated sugar in your coffee blender for about 20 seconds. You can use granulated sugar directly, but caster sugar has smaller crystals and makes a smoother mix. Enjoy.

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