I don’t know what it is about Empire Biscuits but I love them! I can’t even say why I love them but they’ve always been my favourite biscuit. Before I had the children, years ago you used to be able to buy them in my local Sainsburys from the bakery counter. Every Saturday we used to do the weekly shop (both of us worked full time and far too exhausted to go food shopping after work) in Sainsbury’s or Tesco depending on where we’d been for the rest of our shopping. Our little treat with a cup of tea when we got back home was a cake or a biscuit. Mr S used to choose a giant cream scone and I used to have my Empire Biscuit!
If you’re wondering what on earth an Empire Biscuit is, then I’ll tell you. It’s actually two shortbread biscuits (traditionally circular) which are sandwiched together with raspberry or strawberry jam and decorated with glacé icing. The top usually has a sweet, such as a Jelly Tot or a Smartie on top of it, or even a glacé cherry. According to Wikipedia they are a derivation from the Linzer biscuit, which are similar to Jammy Dodgers and also known as Belgian Biscuits in other parts of the world. I also found out that they are well known in Winnipeg, Canada!
I never see Empire Biscuits round here now, where I live in North Yorkshire but when we started going on holiday to the Isle of Arran ten years ago, I spotted some in the local Co-op and in cafes and bakeries on the island. I just had to make some myself when we got home and then ever since then I’ve made them loads of times. Two years later, in 2014 we went on holiday to the Isle of Mull and I found some gorgeous Empires in the bakery at Tobermory.
I even wrote a blog post about them and you can read it here:
It is amazing how many people comment on how much they love them and how they remind them of holidays in Scotland or even give people a reminder of their childhoods in Scotland. I don’t know why they are popular there and not here but I am going to continue to make them in my North Yorkshire kitchen.
I made some more Empires on Friday afternoon as there was a coffee morning on at our local village hall over the weekend. I had a packet of Jelly Tots in the cupboard and chose to decorate with those although glace cherries are also popular. It was interesting to note that there were far more purple Jelly Tots than green ones in this packet. I wonder why there is never an equal amount? I like to have an equal amount just in case you get a fussy customer who complains that they don’t like the yellow ones, for example.
I guess there are lots of different biscuit recipes out there for Empire Biscuits but the one I use is just a simple shortbread biscuit recipe. I usually chill the dough slightly before rolling it out and it does depend on what mood I’m in to whether I use a round or a fluted cutter. The one I used on Friday was actually a flower shape which was given to me by my step mum.
I think Empire Biscuits would work in other flavours and with other decorations. I have tried making chocolate cherry ones as well as lemon flavoured ones with lemon glace icing. For different decorations, I have put Percy Pigs on top of them. They were very popular with the recipient who absolutely adores Percy Pigs.
Love Sam xx