Empire biscuits – a household favourite

Empire biscuits

A tasty favourite!

MrFoxyBakes hails from Scotland. A few years ago he introduced me to some very tasty biscuits called Empire biscuits. You can get them in most supermarkets north of the border. We would always bring back a few packs of the lovely treats, but we would miss them when we ran out.

So, I did some googling and ‘lo and behold, I found a recipe. A few actually. And I think I finally found the one we like the most.

What makes en empire biscuit so special is the combination of jam, thick icing and a little sweet on top. Yum. They’re rich, but so delicious!

This is the recipe I now use. It’s in imperial measurements, which I haven’t bothered to convert, as my scales do both… The recipe is from the Hairy Bikers’ Mums Know Best programme.

6oz butter
6oz plain flour
2oz icing sugar
2oz corn flour
Strawberry or raspberry jam
24 glacé cherries (I hate glacé cherries, so I use little sugar coated squishy sweets. I get them in Waitrose in the baking section.)
Icing:
Icing sugar
Water

1. Mix the ingredients into a bowl until you have a ball of dough in your hand. My advice would be to pop it in the fridge for a bit, as I found the dough too warm and soft to roll and cut.
2. Roll the dough with a floured rolling pin and create a circle about ¼ inch thick.
3. Use a cooking cutter to prise out 24 circular shapes. I never found to get 24 shapes, so I must be using a larger cutter. I don’t mind though, as I get about 16, so 8 biscuits, which is 4 each and that’s about right in our house as they don’t stay right for longer than a few days.
4. Place the 24 pieces on a baking tray.
5. Place in oven at 180ºC for 10-12 mins.
6. Remove from oven before golden brown.
7. Leave to cool.
8. To ice the biscuits mix icing sugar and water in a bowl.
9. Put strawberry or raspberry jam on 12 of the pieces and top with the other 12 pieces.
10. Ice the biscuits, using an icing bag. (I don’t use an icing bag, I use a palette knife and make sure the icing is properly thick, just about spreading consistency)
11. Pop a glacé cherry (or sweet in my case) on the top of each biscuit for decoration.
12. Eat! Just not all at once as it will make you feel ill. Trust me…

In search of the perfect macaron – Part II

Chocolate macarons

Chocolate and salted caramels macarons

Not an easy journey really, the search for the perfect macaron. A tasty one? Most certainly, but filled with frustration at cracked domes, no feet, not holding the colour, not rising, too dry, undercooked, you name it!

So, last weekend I decided to have another go. I googled various chocolate macaron recipes and stumbled upon a little tutorial by Paris-based pastry chef David Lebovitz. I have been reading his website a lot as I’m planning a short trip to Paris next month and he has amazing knowledge on where to get the good stuff, i.e. patisseries.

So, I followed his instructions, although I let them sit for half an hour or before I put them in the oven. And ‘lo and behold, they came out looking beautiful!!!

I made a lovely salted caramel buttercream to fill them with and one of my friends stated they were ‘just like the ones from the posh shop’. She means Pierre Hermé. Well, probably not *that* good, but they were pretty tasty.

I will use this recipe again and see if I can adjust it for non-chocolate macarons. I just need to find a way to keep any colours looking vibrant as so far all my coloured macarons have gone all pale, despite them looking bordering on neon in the mixer…

So, I’m overall pretty pleased with the result and I found that piping the filling makes them look even prettier!