The Tomato

Empire Biscuits & Spitzbuben

RobertSimpsonRobert Simpson, Blackhawk Golf Course

“Christmas cookies make me think of my mom, a very good cook and baker. She’s German; my Dad is Scottish. The two holiday cookies I remember the most are Scottish Empire biscuits with icing and jam, and what we called spitzibuben.”

Empire biscuits

  • 3 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c butter
  • 1 egg
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 t cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream together butter and sugar (a bit at a time). Add egg and cream some more. Add flour gradually to form a stiff dough. Knead well. Roll out and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter, any size cookie cutter you like. Bake for 12 to 15 min. Leave on wire rack to cool. Put together with raspberry jam. Top with icing when cool. The cookies freeze very well (without the icing).


Spitzbuben (little rascals) are also known as Linzer cookies. Robert sent a scan of a page from his mother’s White House Cookbooks; written across the top of the page is a note: 4 (100 grams) packages almonds.

  • 1½ c butter (3 sticks)
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 t grated lemon rind
  • ½ t vanilla
  • 3½ c finely ground hazelnuts or almonds
  • 31/3 c unsifted cake flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1¼ t ground cinnamon
  • 1 jar (12 ounces) raspberry jam
  • icing sugar (The White House cookbook refers to this as 10x sugar)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy; beat in egg, egg yolk, lemon rind, and vanilla; stir in nuts.

Stir in flour, baking powder, and cinnamon, blending well to make a stiff dough. Wrap in wax paper. Chill several hours, or overnight.

Cut dough in half (refrigerate other half). Roll out dough between sheets of wax paper to slightly less than ¼-inch thickness. Remove top sheet of wax paper. With a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out as many circles from the dough as you can. Carefully remove circles from bottom sheet of wax paper and place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets. Refrigerate scraps of dough for second rolling.

Repeat with other half of the dough, cutting out an equal number of 2-inch circles. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. With a ¾ inch cookie cutter, cut out centre of each of the second batch of cookies. Use any scraps of dough for second rolling. Roll scraps of dough; cut out equal number of solid circles and circles with open centres.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until edges are golden.

Remove cookie sheets from oven; let stand one minute. Remove cookies with wide spatula to wire racks. Cool.

Heat jam in a small saucepan. Spread each of the solid cookies with a thin layer of hot preserves. Top each with a cut-out cookie; press gently to make a sandwich. Place on wire rack. Sprinkle tops of cookies with ‘10x sugar’ (icing sugar). Spoon a dab of preserves in opening of each cookie; let preserves set slightly. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

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