Empire Biscuits

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There is something about the humble empire biscuit that is hard to resist. What’s not to like? Soft, buttery biscuits sandwiched together with fruity jam, topped with icing and adorned with a jelly tot or glace cherry.

These biscuits will always hold a certain retro charm for me. They take me back to the days when the local bakery van used to come round our street on a Saturday and I was allowed to choose a treat. I remember being very indecisive – how could I possibly just choose one thing out of all these gorgeous looking sweet treats? More often than not I chose a cream cookie (a sweet bun filled with cream and dusted with icing sugar), a pink finger and an empire biscuit. No wonder I ended up with such a sweet tooth!

You can use any shortbread recipe you like for empires. This particular recipe gives you a lighter biscuit due to the cornflour.

Empire Biscuits
Makes about 12, depending on the size of your cutters

225g very soft butter
125g cornflour
125g Icing sugar
200g plain flour

Seedless raspberry or strawberry jam

150g icing sugar

Jelly tots or glace cherries to decorate (I’ve been known to use Haribo one or twice!)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a baking tray.

Combine the soft butter, cornflour, icing sugar and plain flour together until you have a soft dough. I usually do this by hand but sometimes I use my trusty Kenwood processor. For melt in the mouth biscuits, you want to handle the dough as little as possible so the processor comes in handy here.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface (about 1/2 inch thick) and cut out rounds using circle cutters. If you don’t have round cutters an upturned pint glass will work fine!

Place the biscuits on the lined baking tray and bake for 12-15 mins or until tinted very pale golden around the sides and bottom. Leave on the tray for 5 minutes, then using a palette knife transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

When the biscuits are cold, spread with a thin layer of the jam and place another biscuit on top. Mix the icing sugar with a few drops of water – what you’re looking for is a thick icing that won’t drip off the sides of the biscuits. Dip a biscuit into the bowl of icing and scrape off the excess icing with your finger. Place back on the wire rack, top with a jelly tot, cherry or sweetie of your choice and leave to set.

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