Mary Berry Empire Biscuits Recipe

Mary Berry Empire Biscuits Recipe
Yields: 1 Serving Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 30 Mins Cook Time: 15 Mins Total Time: 45 Mins

Empire biscuits are delicious shortbread cookies that are sandwiched with raspberry jam and topped with icing and a cherry. They are very popular in Scotland, where they are also known as Belgian biscuits or German biscuits. They are a perfect treat for afternoon tea, holidays, or any occasion.

In this recipe, I will show you how to make Mary Berry Empire Biscuits from scratch, using simple ingredients and easy steps. You will learn how to make the shortbread dough, cut out the cookies, bake them, fill them with jam, decorate them with icing and cherries, and store them properly. You will also get some tips and tricks to make your biscuits even better.

This recipe will make about 12-14 empire biscuits, depending on the size of your cookie cutter. It will take you about 30 minutes to prepare the dough and cut out the cookies, and another 10-15 minutes to bake them. The decoration and assembly will take another 15-20 minutes. The total time for this recipe is about an hour.

What are Mary Berry Empire Biscuits?

Mary Berry Empire Biscuits, a beloved Scottish specialty, are shortbread cookies filled with jam and topped with icing and a cherry. Globally, they are sometimes referred to as Belgian or German biscuits. Their history dates back to the 19th century, originating as Linzer biscuits from the Austrian city of Linz. During World War I, in a show of support for the British Empire, their name evolved to Empire biscuits, reflecting both their rich tradition and patriotic significance.

Other Mary Berry Recipes

Why You Love this Recipe

There are many reasons to love this recipe for Mary Berry Empire Biscuits.

Here are some of them:

  • Simple and Accessible Ingredients: The recipe uses basic ingredients typically found in your kitchen, making it convenient and straightforward.
  • Creative Flexibility: Decorating these biscuits is enjoyable. You have the freedom to personalize them with various icings and toppings, tailoring them to your taste or the occasion.
  • Irresistible Flavor and Texture: These biscuits offer a delightful combination of a buttery, crumbly texture with a balance of sweetness and tartness from the jam filling.
  • Versatility for Occasions: Whether it’s a casual snack or a special gathering, these biscuits are a fitting choice for any event.
  • Inspired by a Culinary Icon: Drawing inspiration from Mary Berry, a renowned baker, this recipe promises quality and taste that’s trusted by baking enthusiasts.

Ingredients Needed to Make Mary Berry Empire Biscuits

To make Mary Berry Empire Biscuits, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 175 g (6 oz) of plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) of cold salted butter, cut into cubes
  • 85 g (3 oz) of icing sugar, plus 250 g (9 oz) for the icing
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) of raspberry jam
  • 50 g (1.75 oz) of glacé cherries, quartered

Useful Equipment

You will also need some basic equipment, such as:

  • A food processor or a large bowl and a pastry cutter
  • A rolling pin
  • A 7 cm (2.75 inch) round cookie cutter
  • Two baking sheets
  • Baking parchment
  • A wire rack
  • A small bowl and a spoon or a piping bag for the icing
  • A knife for cutting the cherries

Instructions to Make Mary Berry Empire Biscuits

Follow these instructions to make your Mary Berry Empire Biscuits:

Step 1: Make the shortbread dough

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan or gas mark 4) and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
  • Put the flour, butter, 85 g (3 oz) of icing sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks in a food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together into a dough. Alternatively, you can rub the butter and flour together with your fingertips in a large bowl, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks. If the dough is too dry, add a little water, one tablespoon at a time, until it holds together.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out and cut later.

Step 2: Cut out and bake the cookies

  • Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3 mm (1/8 inch). Use a 7 cm (2.75 inch) round cookie cutter to cut out 24 circles of dough. You may need to re-roll the scraps of dough to get enough circles.
  • Arrange the circles of dough on the prepared baking sheets, leaving some space between them. Bake them in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until they are lightly golden around the edges. Watch them carefully, as they can burn easily.
  • Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let them cool completely before filling and decorating them.

Step 3: Fill the cookies with jam

  • Spoon the raspberry jam into a small bowl and stir it well to loosen it. You can also warm it slightly in the microwave or on the stove to make it easier to spread.
  • Take half of the cookies and spread about a teaspoon of jam on each one, leaving a small border around the edge. Be careful not to overfill them, as the jam will ooze out when you sandwich them.
  • Top each jam-filled cookie with another plain cookie and press them gently together to form a sandwich.

Step 4: Decorate the cookies with icing and cherries

  • Put the remaining 250 g (9 oz) of icing sugar in a small bowl and add 2-3 teaspoons of water, one at a time, until you have a thick but spreadable icing. You can also add a drop of food coloring if you want to make your icing more colorful.
  • Spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle, or use a spoon to drizzle it over the top of each cookie sandwich, leaving a border around the edge. You can also spread the icing with a knife or the back of a spoon if you prefer.
  • Cut the glacé cherries into quarters and place one piece on the center of each iced cookie. Press it lightly into the icing to make it stick.
  • Leave the icing to set for about 30 minutes before serving or storing your biscuits.

Empire Biscuits Recipe Mary Berry

What Do I Serve With Mary Berry Empire Biscuits?

While Mary Berry Empire Biscuits are delightful on their own, pairing them with complementary items can enhance your afternoon tea experience.

Consider these options:

  • Tea Selections: Opt for classic choices like Earl Grey or English Breakfast, or a soothing Chamomile for a relaxing experience.
  • Finger Sandwiches: Include a variety of finger sandwiches such as cucumber, cheese, or ham and mustard to add savory balance.
  • Fresh Fruit Salad: A refreshing bowl of fruit salad with strawberries, grapes, or melon can provide a light and healthy contrast.
  • Scones with Accompaniments: Offer scones, available in flavors like plain, raisin, or lemon, served with clotted cream and jam.
  • Cake Options: Complete your tea with a slice of cake – choices like Victoria’s sponge, carrot, or chocolate cater to different tastes.
Mary Berry Empire Biscuits
Mary Berry Empire Biscuits

Pro Tips to Make Perfect Mary Berry Empire Biscuits

Enhance your Mary Berry Empire Biscuits with these expert tips:

  • Cold Butter Technique: Start with cold butter and mix the dough briskly. This keeps the dough firm and easy to work with.
  • Chill the Dough: Refrigerate the dough before rolling and cutting. This step helps in handling the dough better and ensures the cookies don’t spread excessively while baking.
  • Sharp Cutter Usage: For uniform cookies, use a sharp cutter. Lightly flour it before each use to achieve neat edges.
  • Optimal Baking: Bake the cookies until they’re just golden. Overbaking can lead to hard textures, whereas the right color ensures a tender, crisp bite.
  • Cooling Is Crucial: Allow the cookies to cool thoroughly before you start the jam-filling and icing process. This prevents the toppings from becoming runny.
  • Proper Storage: Store the biscuits in an airtight container with parchment paper layers to maintain freshness and avoid sticking.

Variations of Mary Berry Empire Biscuits

Experiment with these variations to add excitement to your Mary Berry Empire Biscuits:

  • Cookie Cutter Shapes: Try different cookie cutter shapes like hearts, stars, or flowers for a playful touch.
  • Jam Varieties: Experiment with different jam flavors such as strawberry, apricot, or blackcurrant to alter the taste and color profile.
  • Icing Options: Mix it up with various icing types, like chocolate, lemon, or cream cheese, for added flavor depth.
  • Decorative Elements: Embellish with diverse decorations like dried fruit, nuts, sprinkles, or chocolate chips for added texture and visual appeal.
  • Alternate Fillings: Be adventurous with fillings, including lemon curd, Nutella, or peanut butter, for a luxurious twist.

How do I store Mary Berry Empire Biscuits Leftovers?

To properly store leftover Mary Berry Empire Biscuits, follow these guidelines:

  • Layered Storage: Place the biscuits in an airtight container, separating them with parchment paper. This prevents sticking and crumbling.
  • Avoid Heat and Moisture: Store the container in a cool, dry place to keep the biscuits from becoming soggy or moldy.
  • Label for Freshness: Mark the container with the preparation date and biscuit type. This helps in tracking freshness and avoiding spoilage.

How do I reheat Mary Berry Empire Biscuits Leftovers?

If you want to reheat your Mary Berry Empire Biscuits leftovers, you can do so in the oven or the microwave.

Here are some steps to reheat them:

  • Preheat your oven to 150°C (130°C fan or gas mark 2) or set your microwave to medium power.
  • Place the biscuits on a baking sheet or a microwave-safe plate, leaving some space between them.
  • Reheat them for 5-10 minutes in the oven or 10-15 seconds in the microwave, or until they are warm and soft.
  • Enjoy them as they are or with some whipped cream or ice cream.

Nutrition value per biscuit (based on 12 servings) :

  • Calories: 384 kcal
  • Fat: 25 g
  • Carbohydrate: 37 g
  • Sugar: 8.3 g
  • Protein: 3.9 g
  • Sodium: 174 mg


I hope you enjoyed this recipe for Mary Berry Empire Biscuits. They are easy to make, fun to decorate, and delicious to eat. They are perfect for sharing with your family and friends, or for treating yourself to a sweet snack. You can also customize them with your favorite flavors and toppings, and make them as simple or as fancy as you like.

If you try this recipe, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below. I would love to hear your feedback and suggestions. And if you liked this recipe, please share it with your fellow food bloggers and readers. Thank you for reading and happy baking!

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