The second installment of our inappropriate sugars and starches!
This is the quintessential Christmas cookie in my family. My very British grandmother made the best I've ever tasted. My mother didn't do much baking, but she made these every year. Now, my sister has taken over this tradition; depending on the business quotient for the season, I might make some as well. We like our shortbread cookies on the thin side, but many people like a nice chunky cookie. We always use homemade raspberry jam, but strawberry is acceptable. The traditional bit of red dye number 4 cherry on the top is technically optional, but I think it's essential. You can substitute a silver or gold edible ball, a "dragee". (See? I know my baking terms!)
This cookie even has a history. It wasn't known as the empire cookie until after WWI. Before that it was known as the Linzer or Deutch biscuit. Northern Ireland still calls it the German biscuit and many still know it as a Belgian cookie. Whatever you call it, it is might tasty and a perfect union of the holiday triad - sugar, butter and white flour - with the welcome addition of a tiny bit of fruit.
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter
1tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup icing sugar
¼ tsp. almond extract
1 Tbs. hot water
½ cup raspberry jam
candied cherries or other decorations
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and beat until light. Add vanilla. Mix dry ingredients (sift if you like). Add gradually until you have a slightly stiff smooth dough. Roll out and cut into rounds. Bake for 10 minutes. (The cookies should be firm and only slightly browned on the bottom) Cool. Mix icing sugar, almond extract and water to make icing. Combine two cookies using jam as a filler. Frost each cookie and top with a cherry.
Hint: you are allowed to eat all the cookies that chip, break or are not perfectly formed. Only the best get made into these delicious little sandwiches.