Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Baking for Beginners: Fortune Cookies

Fortune cookies are bloody brilliant, aren't they? I feel a bit cheated if I'm not given one at the end of a Chinese meal. Sure, the mass-produced ones taste a bit meh, but the fortunes inside range from batshit crazy to downright bewildering, and that gives me a much-needed smile when I'm in the middle of a massive MSG comedown.

It's Chinese New Year on Sunday, so I've made a batch of fortune cookies to celebrate. Unlike so many restaurant cookies, these taste GOOD. I messed about with the recipe until I got a cookie that's crispy, delicious, and won't leave greasy marks on the fortune within.

Of course, making your own fortune cookies means you get to choose what goes inside. Now this was a conundrum. But then I realised that the answer was staring out from my computer screen:

Cher.

More specifically, the tweets of Cher. As mystifyingly delightful as any of the great Chinese philosophers, we can all benefit from embracing the Wisdom Of Cher. I found a handy round-up of her best tweets of last year and used them as my fortunes. You can, of course, put whatever you please in these cookies - and I've made some suggestions below!

Shoop Shoop Fortune Cookies (makes 12-15)

You'll need:
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 60g plain flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp almond essence
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
Make it!
  1. Prepare your fortune strips in advance - they should measure about 5cm x 1.5cm. Have them ready, along with two baking trays lined with parchment, a muffin tin, a spatula, and a mug. ALL WILL BECOME CLEAR IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
  3. Whisk the egg whites, vanilla extract and almond essence until the eggs are nice and foamy, but not stiff.
  4. Sift the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl and continue beating. Add the oil and water and beat until you've got a smooth, thinnish batter.
  5. On one baking tray, form two very thin, 4-inch diameter circles of batter, using the scantest of tablespoons of mixture for each. Use the back of a spoon to help you form them evenly.
  6. Bake for 6-7 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. The middles will still be pale and pliable. 
  7. Now you need to work super-fast - you've got seconds to form the fortune cookie shapes before they start to harden. Using a greased spatula, work them off the parchment and flip. 
  8. Lay a fortune across the middle, loosely fold the circle in half, and pinch the edges (it'll look like a mini Findus Crispy Pancake).
  9. On the edge of your mug, fold the two pointy corners down to form the classic fortune cookie shape. Look at this diagram for step-by-step visuals! Now your cookie will look like Pac-Man (I'm churning out the cultural references here).
  10. Place the fortune cookie into the muffin tin to hold its shape while it cools.
  11. Repeat until all your cookies are finished. Rotate your baking trays so that you're using a cool one for each batch of two - a warm tray will make your batter spread too quickly.
  12. Let the cookies cool in the muffin tin.
  13. Quick! Eat your fortune cookie! Find out what Cher is trying to tell you!
Tips
  • Wear your oven glove on your non-dominant hand when removing the trays from the oven. That way, you can grip the baking tray while you prise the biscuits from the parchment with your spatula, and you won't waste precious seconds faffing with your glove.
  • If your cookies harden in the middle of trying to shape them, pop them back in the oven for about half a minute to soften. 
  • Your circles of batter need to be gossamer fine, otherwise your cookies won't be crisp. However, if once they've cooled you find you have a few springy ones, put them in a very low oven for about an hour, still inside their muffin tin, turning after 30 minutes. 
  • Wear thin cotton gloves if you find handling the hot cookies, um, too hot to handle. 
  • Try flavouring your cookies with something other than the traditional almond and vanilla. Orange, rose, coffee - the choice is yours!
  • Other than Cher, the possibilities for fortune cookie fun are endless. Go the traditional route and predict the future; make a batch of 'misfortune cookies' and fill them with doom and gloom; hide a marriage proposal (or even a ring!) inside; or use them to house an after-dinner quiz or game. 

Happy Chinese New Year, Cher! (And everyone else.)

7 comments:

  1. THIS IS AMAZING. Other suggestions: the tweets of Kanye West ("Awesomeness." "Functionality.") or the tweets of Moira Stewart ("fiona bruce").

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See also: Ed Balls ("Ed Balls").

      Delete
    2. Or the Tilda Swinton parody account (RIP):

      "Sit on the floor, knees under your chin. Wrap your arms around yourself, squeeze as small as you can. Now explode! To the fullest you."

      https://twitter.com/NotTildaSwinton

      Delete
    3. Actually, I might fill mine with Top Tips from crap mags. And then force the recipients to act them out.

      Delete
    4. That is a great idea. For the best ones see: http://lifedeathtoptips.tumblr.com/ and if you want to cry with laughter may I suggest selecting http://lifedeathtoptips.tumblr.com/tagged/sanitary-towels as there is nothing Chat readers cannot do with these.

      Delete
    5. Hehe! Charlie, that's Sara's website! She's Ms LifeDeathTopTips!

      Delete
    6. Yay! This is getting so meta!

      Delete

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