Gluten-Free Imperial Cookies!
Note: This recipe was first posted on my original blog, Celebration Generation, on May 19, 2020. It was transferred over to this blog - existing comments and all - on Feb 26, 2021
This recipe is from my cookbook, “More Than Poutine: Favourite Foods from my Home and Native Land”, and it’s for the gluten-free version of my Imperial Cookies recipe. Every recipe in that book - aside from I think 2 - have alternate instructions to make a fantastic gluten-free version of the original.
Don’t need gluten-free? Check the notes in the recipe for how to adjust this recipe to make my traditional, gluteny version!
What are Gluten-Free Imperial Cookies?
Imperial Cookies are a traditional sandwich cookie in Winnipeg - you can buy them anywhere, there! Gas stations, bakeries, pretty much every coffee shop... as a dessert at many of the delis, etc.
They’re a sandwich cookie made of two shortbread (or sugar) cookies, raspberry jam filling, and a white glaze flavoured that’s usually flavoured with almond extract.
There is almost always - I swear it’s a requirement - a red dot or blotch of some sort in the middle of the glazed top cookie. (More on this in a little bit).
Usually, the cookies are made with a scalloped edge, as pictured. (I use this Wilton Round Cookie Cutter Setfor not only these cookies, but many other cookies and crackers!), though you can use a smooth edge if you like.
An Imperial Cookie by Any Other Name...
While “Imperial Cookies” are fairly specific/regional to Winnipeg, the cookie type itself can be found in various parts of the world... just not by the same name!
Gluten-Free Empire Cookies
Empire Cookies are what they’re known as in pretty much the rest of North America, with one small caveat: The frosting of Empire Cookies tends to be vanilla flavoured, rather than almond.
The almond flavour really ties the whole thing together, IMHO.
Gluten-Free Empire Biscuits
As you may guess by the name, this is what similar cookies are called over in the United Kingdom.
Additionally, they’re more likely to be made from shortbread when found over there, whereas the Winnipeg version tends to be a sugar cookie.
Imperial Cookie Variations
Realistically, there’s only so far you can veer from the basics, before it’s something not identifiable as an Imperial cookie. That said, there are two main ways you can tinker with this recipe, without really offending the purists. (Maybe!)
Raspberry Jam is traditional, and it’s absolutely the default... but you can definitely get away with using any red type of jam or jelly.
Strawberry or red currant works really well!
Personally, I’ll take it a step further: My favourite jam to use in this is blackcurrant.
After 12 years in the US - with very limited access to blackcurrant anything - I’ll put it in anything I can! Also, I just like it better than raspberry.
Yes, it’s purple... but sometimes the tastebuds want what the tastebuds want... tradition be damned 🙂
The ... Accent
That little red dot on top is pretty much a requirement, but what you use for it is a little more freestyle. A few options:
When whipping up the glaze, set aside a very small amount - about a tablespoon - to tint with red food colouring.
Once tinted, transfer to a pastry bag with a small hole cut in the tip - or is fixed with a small round tip - to pipe the dots once the white glaze is down.
Piping Gel is a clear, frosting-type gel product that you can buy in the cake decorating section of pretty much any grocery store.
It tends to come in little tubes that you can pipe directly from, and is the easiest option for getting the red dot.
One caveat: It doesn’t tend to dry out, so stacking cookies with gel paste will make a mess of it.
If you’re using maraschino cherries for this, be sure to drain them well, chop them, then blot the chopped bits with paper towel, as excess moisture will ruin the clean look of the cookie.
As a note: I’ve found that you’re more likely to find cherries - either glaceed or maraschino - on these cookies when they’re outside of Winnipeg (“Empire Cookies”), than when they’re in Winnipeg.
I find glaceed cherries to be inedible and highly offensive, but some people love them - and they’re a popular choice for the red spot on these cookies.
You can buy the glaceed cherries already chopped up, or cut up whole ones.
More Canadian Recipes!
Looking for more recipes from the ‘great white north’? Look no further!
Chow Chow Relish
Gluten-Free Bacon Poutine Pizza
Gluten-Free Beaver Tail Recipe
Gluten Free Butter Tart Bars
Gluten-Free Butter Tarts
Gluten-Free Cod Au Gratin
Gluten-Free Cod Cheeks & Dressing
Gluten-Free Chicken Mushroom Tourtiere
Gluten-Free Nanaimo Bar Brownies
Gluten-Free Puffed Rice Bars
Gluten-Free Schmoo Torte
Looking for even more Canadian recipes? Check out our full Gluten-Free Canadian Recipes list!
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Gluten-Free Imperial Cookies
- ½ cup Raspberry jam
- 2 ½ cups Icing powdered/confectioner sugar
- Pinch Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Almond extract
- 2-3 tablespoon Hot water
- Red food colouring gel icing, or finally chopped candied cherries
- In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add in eggs and egg white, a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Add vanilla extract, and mix until well incorporated and smooth.
- Mix flours, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking powder, ans salt together. Carefully mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until fully incorporated. Wrap dough in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C), line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Dust work surface generously with corn starch, roll cookie dough out to about ¼" thick (can be slightly thicker).
- Use cookie cutters to cut out 3" scalloped rounds, place cookies 2" apart on prepared baking sheets.
- Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until bottoms look lightly golden.
- Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for at least 5 minutes before moving. Cookies need to cool completely before sandwiching.
- While waiting for the cookies to cool, make your glaze: Use a fork to whisk together icing sugar and salt. Add almond extract and enough hot water to make a thin glaze.
- Flip half of the cookies over, spread underside with jam. Top each with one of the remaining cookies.
- Spread top of each cookie sandwich with glaze, place a dot of red frosting (dyed remaining glaze), gel icing, or a piece of cherry while glaze is still wet.
- Allow cookies to sit, undisturbed, until set.