For over ten years, I've been making these show–stopping fortune cookies for holidays and special occasions. They are absolutely delicious to taste and striking to behold. Plus, writing your own fortunes is a laugh. Mine have improved greatly since my first batch of fortune cookies at age twelve, when I was a little confused on the concept of advice–giving. My "Please Flush . . ." fortune from that first round still makes me giggle when I set out to make these merry cookies.
For birthdays and other happy occasions, I like to invite friends to send me their own fortune for the special recipient. It also makes a great way to celebrate New Years, with good fortunes created by all your friends to read as the clock strikes midnight. Some favorites from this recent birthday round of cookies were: "You are a double rainbow, so intense.", "You are going to come upon a pair of silver boots.", and "Art will flow through you and make you happy."
Part of the fun of creating a restaurant standard is that everyone is familiar with a fortune cookie, but no one has ever really had a homemade version. And believe me, the flavor and texture of the ones folded with your own hands far surpasses the dry, cardboard cookies we've all bashed with a fist on the pink formica tables of our neighborhood Chinese restaurant. This cookie is related in structure and concept to a delicate tuile cookie or fragrant ice cream cone. They are thin and full of almond taste. They also shatter in your mouth the moment you bite into one, a very satisfying action indeed.
The cookies are a labor of love, but so worth the effort. Just as a warning, they are not the type of recipe to be simultaneously be checking your email while working on. These fortune cookies are delicate and finicky, but with a little practice and a few mishaps, you should be in business.
Make Your Own Fortune Cookies
Makes approximately one dozen cookies, depending on size
unsalted butter, melted
Non-stick cooking spray (I used spray Canola Oil from Trader Joes)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray baking sheet. Melt butter and set aside. In a large mixing bowl with a whisk or the bowl of a stand-mixer (I have a Kitchen-Aid), mix the egg whites and sugar for about thirty seconds. Add heavy cream, flour, salt and almond extract, mixing at a high speed for about one minute. Finally add the melted butter, whisking until batter is just combined. The cookie batter will have the consistency of a thick pancake batter.
Spread about 1 heaping tablespoon in a thin circle on the sprayed cookie sheet. I use the back of my tablespoon to create an even circle, about 6 inches in diameter, a little bigger or smaller is fine. I can get only about two (or maybe three, if I'm going a little smaller) cookies on each sheet. You don't want to have any more than three cookies at once, however, because anymore cookies at one time and you won't be able to fold them into the right shape once they've come out of the oven
Bake the cookies for approximately 7–8 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Take the cookies out of the oven and remove with a spatula, you only have about 7–10 seconds before all the cookies set into their shape, so work quickly. Once the cookie hardens, you cannot fold it. Place a fortune in the center of the circle, fold in half, then fold in half once more, leaving you withe a twice-folded rose-like cookie. Set on a rack or in a bowl to fully cool. Think of the first few as practice, until you get your technique down—you will master the fortune cookie! Respray the cookie sheet and start the process again.
Have a clean work surface prepped for shaping the cookies.
Have all fortunes ready to go, I typed mine for the first time this year, but they look lovely hand–written in gold pen.
Enlist a partner to help fold, especially if you get two cookie sheets going at the same time.
You will probably burn your fingertips a little while folding, there's just no getting around it.
I love all miniature baked goods (especially cupcakes), but these fortune cookies look grand quite over–sized, I usually aim for as big as possible!
Adapted from Martha Stewart.
Related: Vintage Fortune Cookie Maker
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)