This empire biscuits recipe is quick, easy and fuss-free. To make them, all you have to do is sandwich two shortbread rounds together with strawberry jam, top them with thick icing and add a colourful gummy decoration on top!
Ever since I was a young child, empire biscuits have been a solid staple that my gran has always stocked in her cupboards. I’m pretty sure she still buys them to this day.
I’m not 100% sure, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that empire biscuits might be a Scottish thing. At least, that’s what every Google search I made returned back to me.
They are super popular in bakeries here, they contain shortbread which is Scottish, and I’ve never actually seen them anywhere else in the world. So I’m going to take it upon myself to declare these as a Scottish dessert. If I’m wrong, I’m sorry…don’t come for me.
Nevertheless, they are delicious, and that’s what matters.
Empire Biscuits Without Eggs Or Dairy
If you don’t know what empire biscuits are, allow me to explain. They’re basically two rounds of shortbread sandwiched together with strawberry jam and topped with icing.
They’re also traditionally topped with a glace cherry but the ones my granny used to buy were always topped with Jelly Tot-type gummies, so that’s what I used (they’re vegan-friendly in case you didn’t know!).
Plus, I really don’t like the taste of glace cherries and I think the colourfulness of the Jelly Tots add a nice finishing touch.
The shortbread for the biscuits is also traditionally made with eggs but it’s pretty easy to make it without. I adapted the recipe from my granny’s old cookbook from the 1960s by simply replacing the egg with a little more margarine.
It worked perfectly! The shortbread has a nice crunch but still has that delicious, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
And by using dairy-free margarine, I made this recipe completely vegan-friendly. What’s not to love!?
How To Make Empire Biscuits
In a medium-sized bowl, cream together 100g of caster sugar (see recipe card below for cup measurements) and 180g of vegan margarine.
If you’re not vegan and/or don’t want to use vegan margarine, I’d recommend using dairy margarine over dairy butter because it has the softer consistency you need for this recipe.
Mix the two ingredients together gently until smooth.
Next, add 300g of plain (all-purpose) flour to the bowl. Mix with a spoon until small pieces of the mixture start to clump together.
Now use your hands (making sure they are clean!) to squash the mixture together to form a dough.
Place the dough into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. This will help it to firm up a little and will also prevent the shortbread from losing shape while it’s in the oven.
This is also a good time to preheat your oven to 180C/ 350F and line two large baking trays with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge. At this point, it should be ever so slightly sticky but not wet. It shouldn’t stick to your hands or work surfaces.
Watch the video below for reference if you’re not sure.
If it’s too sticky, you may need to add a little more flour until it becomes manageable. This will depend on which brand of vegan margarine you use as some can be “wetter” than others.
I tested the recipe a few times and found 300g to be the perfect amount of flour.
Lightly flour your work surface and a rolling pin then roll your dough out to 1/2 an inch thick.
Cut out your biscuit shapes using a 3-inch cookie cutter and keep reusing and rerolling the leftover pieces of dough until it has all been used up.
You should end up with around 24 shortbread biscuits, which will give you 12 sandwiched empire biscuits.
Bake the biscuits for ~20 minutes until they are lightly golden brown around the edges.
Transfer them to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.
Sandwich the biscuits together in pairs using strawberry jam. I used around 1/2 a tablespoon of jam for each pair of biscuits.
Want More Vegan Bakery Recipes?
Prepare your icing by mixing 200g of powdered sugar with 3 tablespoons of cold water until smooth.
Gently spread some on top of each sandwiched biscuit, using the back of a teaspoon to spread it out to the edges.
Top each empire biscuit with a Jelly Tot or half of a glace cherry while the icing is still wet.
Leave the biscuits to rest for 30 minutes to allow the icing to set and stiffen slightly.
Now you can eat them and enjoy your creation!
They will last for up to 4 days in an airtight container. You can stretch out their lifeline slightly longer if you need to but the shortbread will be starting to get a little soggy by this point.
Can Empire Biscuits Be Frozen?
Yes! I froze some in airtight containers with the jam, icing and Jelly Tot on.
To defrost them, I just transferred them to a plate and allowed them to sit at room temperature for a few hours. They still tasted perfectly crunchy!
I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you give it a go yourself, please leave a comment or rating below to let me know how it went.
Dairy-free and egg-free crunchy shortbread rounds sandwiched together with strawberry jam, and topped with icing and jelly sweets.
- 180 g Vegan margarine (3/4 cup)
- 100 g Caster sugar (½ cup)
- 300 g Plain flour (2 cups)
- 6 Tablespoons Strawberry jam
- 200 g Powdered sugar (1 ½ cups)
- 3 Tablespoons Cold water
- 12 Rowntrees Jelly Tots (or 6 glace cherries)
In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth.
Add in all of the flour and stir gently until the mixture starts to stick together. Then use your hands to press it together into a dough as best as you can. It might be crumbly but it will hold together better after refrigeration.
Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 180°C/ 350°F and line two large baking trays with parchment paper.
Remove your dough from the fridge and knead lightly on a lightly floured surface to warm it up and remove any cracks. Roll it out to around ½ an inch thick.
Cut out your biscuit shapes and place them onto your baking tray. Re-roll the leftover pieces of dough until it's all used. If you use a 3-inch cookie cutter, you should end up with around 24 biscuits.
Place your biscuits into the oven and bake for around 15-20 minutes until they are just slightly golden brown around the edges. Allow them to cool completely on a wire rack. Smaller sized biscuits will need less time to bake.
Once the biscuits are cool, use the jam to sandwich them together in pairs. You may want to give the jam a quick mix first as the biscuits may break if it's too stiff.
Mix the powdered sugar and water together in a small bowl and use a teaspoon to gently spread some on top of each sandwiched biscuit.
While the icing is still wet, place 1 Jelly Tot on top of each biscuit. Alternatively, you can use ½ of a glace cherry.
Leave the biscuits for around 30 minutes to allow the icing to set, then enjoy!
*Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.