For years I’ve been wanting to make big fortune cookies but never had the right occasion to do so. But this year with the economy in the crapper and all, I decided to make holiday gifts rather than buy them. Which of course led me straight to the loaded fortune cookie.
In reality, fortune cookies are nothing more than a tuile cookie formed with origami-like fancywork. The batter is simple – melted butter, powdered sugar, flour, egg whites, and a pinch of salt and dash of almond extract I added to the recipe.
But this isn’t to say I didn’t encounter challenges – there was plenty of trial and error. For example, the oven temperature was too high with the first cookie I attempted, making it impossible to form. I was able to fold it in half, then nothing.
The idea is to bake the cookie until the edges turn light brown and the batter is dry, then quickly remove the cookie from the pan with a spatula and place it upside-down on a dry towel. You then have to move quickly and carefully – the cookies are hot! – and place the “fortune” (or in this cake “Happy Holidays” typed on a strip of paper) in the center, fold the cookie lightly in half with the loose “creased” side closest to you. Then, place your thumbs in the center of the fold and place your index fingers in the openings on both ends. Pull the ends toward the center to form the traditional shape, then set aside to cool. Seriously, oye.
So, moving on to to cookie attempts #2 and #3, I decreased the oven temperature and also used a thinner layer of batter. I was able to form the cookie shape but the final product was extremely brittle.
Attempt #4 used a thicker layer of batter which I cooked a bit longer but not quite long enough. This time the cookie was difficult to form because the batter hadn’t dried enough but at least it wasn’t brittle.
Finally, by attempt #5, I got it right. I used the same amount of batter as #4 but cooked it longer – about 11 minutes this time. And then, as is my luck, I was out of batter.
It was fine. I proceeded to decorate all the cookies with semi-sweet chocolate and multi-colored sprinkles (I had tried desperately to find those little edible silver balls but when I finally tracked them down I realized they were way overpriced – $15 for a small container!). Then I wrapped up the one presentable cookie and brought it to bring to my friend Heather’s house for her dinner party. She and the other guests were extremely impressed with my little gift, so much so that they didn’t even notice the bottle of wine I brought with it.
As for the not-so-pretty cookies, I’ve slowly been eating them and can report that they taste much better than the small, stale fortune cookies I’m used to. I even did a side-by-side taste test with the cookie that came with my Pad Thai last night. Trust me on this – once you make your own (or eat one of mine) you’ll never go back to the other kind.
Tomorrow I’ll be making many more of these so I can start handing them out. I’m hopeful the other recipients will like them as much as Heather and her friends did.
Loaded Fortune Cookies (make 5 large cookies)
1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz), melted
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Fortunes printed on strips of paper, folded in half
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or white chocolate chips
Sprinkles, chopped nuts or other small candies for decoration
Preheat the oven to 350F. Pour the melted butter into the bowl of a mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or mix by hand). Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Add the flour and salt and continue beating until blended. Then, with the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the egg whites and almond extract. Mix until blended and smooth but be careful not to add air to the mixture. Strain the batter through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Use a large circle (about 8-inches in diameter) as a stencil. I’ve found that the outside of a spring-form pan works well, as does cutting out the center of a paper plate so all that remains is 1/4-inch thick ring. Pour about 1/2 cup batter in the center of the ring and use a rubber spatula or offset spatula to spread the batter into a thin, even layer about 1/8-inch thick. It should be thick enough that you can’t see through it in any part.
Remove the stencil and bake until the edges turn light brown and the batter is dry in the center, about 10 to 12 minutes. Working quickly, use a spatula to lift the cookie off the baking sheet and place it upside-down on a dry towel. Set the fortune in the center.
Use your fingers to form the fortune cookie but be careful as it will be very hot: fold the cookie lightly in half with the loose “creased” side closest to you. Place your thumbs in the center of the fold and place your index fingers in the openings on both ends. Pull the ends toward the center to form the traditional shape, then set aside to cool.
To decorate the cookies, begin by melting the chocolate. Pour the chocolate chips into a heatproof metal or glass bowl. Set the bowl on top of a small pot filled 1/3 with water. Turn the heat to medium and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Dip the fortune cookies into the chocolate, then set on parchment paper. Decorate right away with sprinkles, chopped nuts or other small candies. Chill until the chocolate hardens.