In between the chocolate and heavy desserts this holiday, why not try these sandwich empire cookies? This recipe is one of my all-time favourites. Not only do they have a hint of almond in the icing, but the jam centre really balances everything out. They are also relatively easy to make, and look impressive to guests. It’s a refreshing change to the typical sweets passed around on Christmas Eve.
Here’s what you need:
1/2 cup butter
1 to 1 1/2 cup of white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda (1 teaspoon if you use granular sugar)
Filling and icing
1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons of hot water
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
candied cherries or candied fruit
The base is a simple sugar cookie recipe. You can use this one or follow your families instructions. Start by creaming together the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. It’s best to use an electric mixer, but if you don’t have one, make sure the butter is really soft. Then mix together the rest of the dry ingredients together, and pour into mixer gradually as you stir until dough is formed. If you have to, use your hands for the last bit of mixing, making sure to kneed the dough until it forms a ball.
You will be using a rolling pin to roll out the dough, so you may want to split the dough into two to make it easier.
Roll out the dough until relatively thin. Remember this is a sandwich cookie, and the thicker the dough, the bigger the cookie (and the fewer it will make). Use a cookie cutter to create shapes. I like to use a circle, but any shape will do! Place on greased baking sheet or a sheet with parchment paper. Cook for 10 minutes in the oven, at 350 degrees F. Take them out and let them cool.
This cookie has numerous steps. I like to bake the cookies one day, and then put them together the next. Make sure you set time aside for this recipe!
Once the cookies are cool, it’s time for the jam filling. Take your jam and a knife, and spread it on one side of the cookie, preferable the flat side. Take another cookie and place it on top, flat side down so it makes a macaroon-looking shape. Let sit until the jam settles.
In a bowl, mix the icing sugar, almond extract, and hot water together. Put icing on the top cookie, spreading it into a circle. Make sure to have the candied fruit easily accessible. After icing a row of cookies, stop and place a single piece of candied fruit in the centre of the cookie. Complete the row. Then, move on to the next row and repeat. Let the icing harden. This may take a few hours.
And voila! Empire cookies! Enjoy!