Last night, the hunkster and I were tired after a long week: it’s his busy season. I, on the other hand, am lucky to only work four part time days, with Friday being one of my off days, so don’t have a thing to complain about. I must, however, take on some of his exhaustion at times. Regardless, we ended up with Asian takeout last night and the proverbial, concluding fortune cookie that admonished, “Do not rush through life, pause and enjoy it.”
Oh how I try…
Hence, the part time job. I’ve most likely mentioned this before, but a year ago decided to end a career I’d invested twenty years in, working my way to a managing position. It had gotten to the point that much of what I enjoyed about life — time to relax, time to imagine possibilities, and time to create — was no longer possible. Each day ended with a deflated freefall into bed, five to six hours of sleep, and then three to four days a week, exercise at 4:30 am to compensate for the damage stress was wreaking on my body. I know there are many, many people who do this daily. Perhaps they even thrive on it. I couldn’t. Not any longer.
About six years before I had gotten to this point, I began to dream of having my own shop. The essence of the shop was effectively captured in the fortune above. It was to be all things calm and soothing — a place where those interested could step in and spend time away from their own hectic lives. Food was involved, of course.
But the timing was not right, and being the cautious people we have always been, sadly, it never came to fruition.
In the little more than a year since I’ve abandoned my career and with it a lucrative retirement, I’ve welcomed back glimmers of what I once used to enjoy. Although some of it has changed somewhat, I still recognize the spark of inspiration and a tentative willingness to hope once more about what could be — if and when I set my mind to it.
This recipe reminds me of those possibilities and a pace less hurried. Even in a busy day, time taken to stop long enough to breathe, relax your mind, and imagine can improve one’s frame of mind.
I’ve risked quite a bit to learn this lesson and haven’t regretted it once.
Orange & Vanilla Sugar Cream Wafers
For the cookies:
1 c. butter
1/3 heavy cream
2 c. all purpose flour
granulated pure cane sugar
For the filling:
1/2 c. soft butter
1-1/2 c. sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. orange extract
optional: paste coloring
Measure flour by the dipping method and in the bowl of a mixer, thoroughly combine flour, butter, and cream. You will still be able to see streaks of butter in the dough. Scrape dough from the bowl onto a piece of plastic wrap, smoothing into two separate well-formed disks. Wrap each tightly and refrigerate for at least one hour.
While the dough is chilling, make the filling by blending the soft butter and confectioners’ sugar, then divide in half. Mix vanilla into one, and orange extract into the other. Color either mixture as desired. Leave at room temperature if your kitchen is cool, otherwise refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Roll dough very thin (1/8″) using a piece of plastic both over and underneath the dough working as quickly as possible. The dough is easiest to work with when very cold. Using a 1-1/2″ round cutter, cut as many rounds as possible before combining scraps to chill again, and then return to cut more.
Pour a good quantity of the granulated pure cane sugar onto a large plate or flat surface. As you cut the rounds of dough, place them in the granulated sugar and tap lightly, flipping to coat both sides with sugar.
Place sugared rounds onto a cold baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Prick each round with a fork four times. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes depending on how long it takes you to complete the cutting, sugaring, and piercing. You want the dough to go into the oven cold.
Bake rounds for 7-9 minutes, watching them carefully as they bake. You will notice that they puff, bubble, then stop. Do not let them brown. If you notice the centers to be a bit dense in the center, leave them in a bit longer. The rounds were probably a bit thicker than necessary.
Transfer rounds immediately to a cooling rack.
When cookies are completely cool, spread on either flavor of filling on a round, then top with another.
Enjoy with a nice cup of Assam and a good book for at least 30 minutes of R & R.
Notes: These cookies are very much like pie dough and are better when made with exceptional tasting butter (I used Plugra) and good quality sugar and extracts. They are small and dainty, and are well received as gifts on special occasions. The filling can be altered in a number of ways to include cinnamon or cardamom, mascarpone, or even a bit of good raspberry jam. They are a bit fragile when very thin, but so ever flaky and delicious. They’re quite easy to make, so have fun with the possibilities!