Life really is a circle and every once in a while, we catch a glimpse of that circle. 15 years ago, I was active in teaching Sunday School at our church, teaching young children about God and Jesus. I also was the praise leader during our church Vacation Bible School, leading praise annually to a loud, large crowd of kids.
Fifteen years later, one marriage later, three international moves later, three children later, I found myself driving kids to Vacation Bible School. Daughters and three friends joined me in the car as we drove to experience all the fun that is VBS. The first night, I entered the room, got all the kids settled down and watched as a young girl led the children in praise, the way I had some ten odd years ago. The more amazing part of the story is that the young woman used to sit in the front when I led praise. Someone I had taught was now teaching my own children, and suddenly saw the full circle of my life.
Fifteen years ago, I never though about who the children I was teaching were going to be, but on this day, I finally saw; the students I had taught were now teaching my own children. My own actions fifteen years ago were now impacting the lives of my children today and it was a moment that stunned me.
I made these cookies for the children at VBS the day after I saw my life come full circle. The circular shape seemed an appropriate symbol of my experience and luckily for me, it worked with the Egyptian theme. The teachers were calling them "Sun and Moon Cookies" and the kids gobbled them down. Adults did too for that matter. The shortbread with the twist of fruit on top appealed to all. They are lightly buttery, rich, and not too sweet. The original recipe is from my favorite hunky Asian chef star, Ming Tsai, from his book, Simply Ming, and I just added the fruit on top to suit my own purposes.
Note: Traditional shortbread does not use egg in the dough, but this one uses three egg yolks which I think make the dough VERY easy to work with. Works for me!
Shortbread Cookies with Apricot and Cranberry (adapted from Ming Tsai's book, Simply Ming)
Makes about 80 cookies (this dough is GREAT to just freeze to have handy, so don't feel like you have to bake it ALL.)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 dozen dried apricots, julienne
1 cup of dried cranberries
1 cup turbinado or raw sugar
1. In the bowl of a mixer, combine butter, sugar and salt and cream on medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes. One by one, add the egg yolks, mixing until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract. Scrape down the bowl.
2. Turn the mixer off and add the flour. Turn the machine to low and mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Remove the dough from the bowl. Working on parchment or wax paper, form dough into 4 logs 10 inches long and 1 1/4 inches in diameter; wrap and chill, at least 3 hours, or until firm. (You can freeze it at this point for later use.)
3. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the sugar in a small bowl.
4. Cut the log into twenty 1/2-inch rounds. Run the edge of the cookie through the sugar and arrange them 2 inches apart on all sides on a parchment-lined or nonstick cookie sheet or sheets. Decorate with a sliver of apricot and a cranberry.
5. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.
My plate of "sun moon" cookies for VBS...