I learned to make empire biscuits from my grandmother who immigrated to the U.S. from Scotland when she was a girl. The base of the cookie is a classic shortbread recipe (they are good on their own) but then you sandwich these shortbread cookies together with raspberry jam and top them with a sugar glaze and cherry to make them extra special. Whether you make shortbread or the full empire biscuit, they are a great holiday or anytime cookie.
For the shortbread cookies: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Have ready two 9-by-13-inch sheets of parchment paper.
Mix together the butter, sugar and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula until evenly combined. Stir in the flour until the dough forms a ball and you no longer see any streaks of flour; the dough may look slightly cracked, but this is fine.
Place the dough in the center of one prepared parchment sheet, then top with the second prepared parchment sheet. Use your hands to press the dough into the same shape as the parchment. When the dough becomes thin enough, you can switch to a rolling pin to ensure the dough is rolled out evenly to about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top parchment sheet and place it on a baking sheet.
Cut the dough into 24 rounds with a 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter, biscuit cutter or the top of a glass. You can bring the scraps of dough together to form a ball and roll it again if needed. Place the cookie rounds on the parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the remaining sheet of parchment on a second baking sheet.
Arrange 12 chilled rounds 1/2 inch apart on each parchment-lined baking sheet. Shortbread shouldn't get too much color when baking, so bake until the shortbread is just set and the edges begin to turn a pale golden brown, about 22 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sugar glaze.
For the sugar glaze: Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl until a thick and smooth glaze forms.
To assemble, dip the top of 1 cooled cookie into the glaze. Lift the cookie just slightly above the glaze and let the excess drip off. Place glaze-side up on the wire rack and place half of a glazed cherry in the center before the glaze sets. Repeat with 11 of the cookies.
Flip over the 12 remaining plain cookies. Evenly spread 1 teaspoon of the raspberry jam to the edges of each cookie.
Place 1 glazed cookie on top of 1 jam-topped cookie. Repeat with the remaining cookies to make 12 sandwich cookies. Serve immediately or store between parchment paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.