Imperial Cookies (AKA: Empire Cookies)

The first time I had an Imperial Cookie (or Empire Cookie as they are also called) was when I worked for Starbucks while I was in university. We had an amazing local bakery supply all our pastries and it didn’t take much for me to fall in love with their Imperial Cookies. It has been a number of years since I worked for Starbucks, so I figured I would try to replicate one of my favourite cookies for the blog. This recipe is a hybrid between Canadian Living’s Classic Empire Cookie recipe and the amazing Anna Olson’s Empire Cookie recipe. I could not have been happier with the results. The cookies were soft, delicate and delicious. I also had the opportunity to use some of our newly made Raspberry Jam, which made these cookies even more delectable. Feel free to use homemade or your favourite store bought jam.

You will need:

For the cookies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups cake and pastry flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup raspberry jam
Candied cherries or red icing (optional)
For the icing topping:
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp hot water, approximate

 In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy.

Beat in egg and vanilla.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Stir into butter mixture in 3 additions.

Shape the dough into a disc (it will be very soft).

Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge until firm, about 2 hours.

On a lightly floured work surface, gently knead the dough just to soften it slightly. Roll out the dough to approximately ¼-inch thick and cut out cookies using a 2-inch cookie cutter.

Place the cookies on the baking trays, leaving ½-inch between them.

Bake in a 350°F oven until edges are light golden, about 10 minutes.

Let cool completely on racks.

While your cookies are baking and cooling, you can now make the icing topping.

In small bowl, stir icing sugar with almond extract; drizzle in enough of the water to make spreadable icing.

Once your cookies are cooled, stir the raspberry jam to soften and spread a little on a cookie bottom.

Sandwich a second cookie on top, pressing gently to secure. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

Spread your icing on top of each cookie sandwich.

Top with a dot of red icing, or a candied cherry (totally optional).

I had no cherries so I settled for a dab of red icing.

Let cookies stand until set, about 1 hour.

Serve to your friends, or hoard for yourself. I did.

Elegant and pretty.

Tart and sweet.



  1. Dana says:

    Imperial cookies are so grand! We tend to cut small shapes out of the top cookie so that the jam peeks through, so that’s an option too! Yours look so good!

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Thanks Dana! Cutting out small shapes from the top of the cookie is a great idea! I will definitely have to try that!

  2. Maryanne says:

    Going to make these to take to my folks this weekend as an early Christmas treat! I love your instructions and photos, they are so clear and easy to follow. Keep up the great work!

      • Maryanne says:

        Hi again! They were a huge hit with everyone! Going to make more to take for Christmas and decorate the tops with red and green icing dots.

        • Claudia's Cookbook says:

          Hi Maryanne! I’m SO happy to hear that! Thanks for letting me know. Decorating with red and green for Christmas is a great idea. I may have to do that as well. Happy Holidays to you and your family :)

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      I kept mine in an airtight container for about 4-5 days and they didn’t get soggy at all. You can always freeze them too!

  3. Laura says:

    I sooooo want to make these cookies after buying a version from a local baker. Since I have a child with a nut allergy, can I leave out the almond extract from the icing without affecting it too much?


    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Hi Laura – You can definitely use vanilla extract to replace the almond extract! If you can, try to find white vanilla so it doesn’t darken the white icing. If you can’t find, no worries – regular vanilla will work nicely. Let me know how they turn out!

        • Laura says:

          Success! I made them today and my family loved them. Thanks so much. This is going in my recipe file.

          I couldn’t find white vanilla, but the regular stuff worked wonderfully.

          • Claudia's Cookbook says:

            Fantastic Laura! I’m so happy to hear they turned out and were a hit. I really love them. Something about the sweet of the cookie and the tartness of the jam. Delicious!

  4. Maroonmango says:

    Hello, I just wanted to say I have loved this recipe for a while now and all my family gets excited when they know these are what I’ll be bringing, unfortunately a couple months ago it was suggested to go gluten free/ dairy free while feeding my new baby boy, thus stopping regular baking in its tracks. Last night I attempted these (quite reluctantly) with a home made gluten free flour mix. I have to say they are by far the best conversion I have tried yet. I still followed the recipe exact other than subbed the flour as well as margarine for the butter. Thank you so much for this versatile and seemingly impossible to screw up recipe!

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Hi Maroonmango! I’m so happy to hear you were able to adapt the cookie recipe to be gluten free! That’s awesome. I definitely should try it! Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. maureen pearson says:

    just love this recipe, thank you so much, happy memories of a childhood in England just after the war when butter was a luxery, these cookies were pure bliss thank you

  6. Linda Kasian says:

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe and the wonderful illustrations and step-by-step guide. I will be making these cookies today with my granddaughters and this will be their copy to start their personal cook books.

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