These easy empire cookies are a cross between sugar cookies and shortbread with raspberry jam sandwiched between two cookies and topped with an easy almond icing. Perfect addition to your Christmas cookie baking list!
How was everyone’s week? Are things getting crazy now that Christmas is so close and Thanksgiving is even closer? Or have you barely even thought about Christmas? I’m kind of in between.
Usually I’m some kind of Christmas freak or, as Mark has so lovingly put it, Christmas crazy… but this year is just different. I mean, I’ve been watching Christmas movies, baking and listening to the music. This is discussed on Wednesday’s post… but I’m still having an issue getting in the real Christmas spirit this year.
Yesterday I described it to my mom as feeling sort of dead inside. I’ve had no desire to actually put up my tree or put any of our decorations out and I can’t even think about Christmas shopping yet. I 100% blame the weather. We have zero snow STILL when usually we’ve already had a few good dumpings by now and it all just seems so wrong. There was a forecast for snow this Sunday and a few days next week but that of course changed and isn’t happening anymore. Most people are happy about this. I am not.
So yesterday in a desperate attempt to get myself in the Christmas mood, I went shopping with my mom. We immersed ourselves in the gorgeous decorations and showed extreme restraint when we found ourselves in 3 separate Christmas chocolate and cookie sections. I found the most adorable owl advent calendar to hang on our wall and fill with chocolate almonds and probably Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups (thanks for the chocolate haul, Janice!) which most certainly helped get me more excited for the season.
Today I think I’ll throw on my Michael Buble Christmas album, finally put our tree up and bake some chocolate peppermint crinkle cookies both for eating and to share the recipe with you lovely people. It’s time.
For now, we have empire cookies. A staple in our house at Christmas every year and quite honestly my favorite cookie in the world next to shortbread. They’re very easy to make and, depending on the type of raspberry jam you use, they don’t have to be overly sweet or they can be very sweet.
The cookies themselves are a cross between shortbread and sugar cookies that… wait for it… don’t require chilling. Yay! I hate chilling cookies. I do it when it’s necessary but it isn’t necessary for these puppies. You simple cream butter and sugar together, add the egg, vanilla and almond extract, add the flour and baking powder and then roll them out, cut them with a 2 inch round cookie cutter and bake for 10 minutes. That’s it. Once they’ve cooled which takes all of 15-20 minutes, top half of the cookies with a basic almond icing consisting of icing sugar, water and almond extract and then you sandwich one plain and one iced cookie together with some raspberry jam- either mostly fruit, low sugar, very sugary, whatever you prefer.
The kicker with these is you really don’t want to bother eating them on the day they’re made. They’re good the same day but the days that follow, they’re ridiculous. They are so soft and heavenly and 100% worth waiting for. They’ll also stay fresh for a good 7 days as long as they’re kept in a good, air tight container on your counter.
OH, totally random and weird question for my American readers- what are the BEST Trader Joe’s products to stock up on this time of year? Things I can actually bring across the border. I LOVE TJs and I’ll be in the States next weekend for my mom and I’s birthday aaaand we’re making a stop at TJs. What is absolutely worth getting A LOT of? Also, my site think’s everyone is a robot so you won’t be able to comment. Shoot me an Insta message or email! firstname.lastname@example.org.
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- ½ cup unrefined cane sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- 2 C all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ⅓-1/2 cup raspberry jam
- 1 C icing sugar
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 2-3 TBSP water*
- Preheat oven to 350F
- In a mixing bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter on high for 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extract, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat together on high until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Sift together the flour and baking powder then add to the butter mixture in 2 additions, mixing on medium-low until it forms a cohesive dough- this can sometimes take a minute.
- Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured counter and roll the dough with a rolling pin to about ¼ inch thickness.
- Cut cookies out with a 2 inch round cookie cutter and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. These cookies won't spread really so it's okay to have them closer together.
- Gather the dough scraps, form a new ball, roll out, and continue cutting cookies. Repeat until there is no more dough left. I got 36 cookie rounds.
- Bake the first sheet on the center rack of your oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely on the cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining tray.
- Prepare the icing while the cookies are cooling. In a small bowl, combine icing sugar and almond extract, adding 1 TBSP of water at a time and stirring well until the icing is runny enough to spread but thick enough not to run of the cookie. Spread icing on half of the cookies.
- Grab the remaining half of the cookies and flip upside down. Spread raspberry jam on each cookie (you should be spreading it on the bottom of the cookie now that they're flipped). Top each half with an iced cookie and allow to set on a wire rack or parchment paper for 1-2 hours. Store in an airtight container, putting a layer of parchment paper in between cookies that are on top of each other.
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