Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You can actually try this at home

My sister and I stayed up until the wee hours the night before the lunch, reminiscing and catching up and making tray after tray of these cookies*.   We were both very skeptical that my crazy idea to dispense Mom's wisdom via baked goods (hatched at the last minute, of course) would work, but thanks to google, we found this recipe, and a very helpful instructional video, with a single search.**    I'm happy to report that not only do they look exactly like the real thing, they taste a thousand times better.  

Homemade Fortune Cookies
The most important thing about making these is patience.  If you are working alone, you should only bake 2-3 cookies at a time.  Working together, my sister and I could handle a pan of four.  This recipe makes about 20 cookies, so at 12 minutes a pop, you might be at the oven for a while.  But it's worth it!!!

2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
2-3 Tbs. water 

Write up and print out your fortunes.  Set up the spacing on your paper so that fortunes can be cut into strips about 3 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.  Preheat oven to 300.

In a medium mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg whites, the extracts and the vegetable oil until fluffy, but not stiff.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and sugar, then add to the egg white mixture and mix until combined.  Add enough water so that batter is smooth, but not overly runny.   The original recipe mentions that you can add food coloring at this point if you want to make colored fortune cookies!

Cover a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat (very important!).   Place a level tablespoon of batter onto the baking sheet, and, using the back of your spoon, spread evenly into a circle about 3 1/2-4 inches in diameter.  Repeat, so you have 2 -3 cookies on your sheet, at least 3 inches apart.

To prepare for forming your cookies, get out a coffee mug or glass with a thick edge, a wide spatula, your fortunes, and an empty muffin tin.  The cookies will become crisp very quickly after they come out of the oven, so you will need to work fast!

Bake for about 12 minutes, until the very outer edges of the cookies are light brown, and cookies are set. Working quickly, lift one cookie with a spatula, and flip it over (so your fortune goes on the reverse side of the cookie).  Place a fortune on the lower half of the cookie, and fold the cookie in half, over the fortune.  Pinch the edges together with your fingers (will be hot!).    Next, take the half circle and press the middle over the edge of the coffee mug, gently folding the cookie over.  Hold for several seconds, then place formed cookie into the muffin tin.   This will help it hold its shape as it cools.  Repeat with remaining cookies.   

Note:  If you get pretty good at this, you can bake more than one sheet of cookies at a time.  Just stagger them, so they are coming out of the oven a few minutes apart.     

Allow to cool, then serve.  Can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.

*Mom would have loved this, too, but would have also scolded us about not getting nearly enough sleep.
** My sister, being the anal baker in the family, checked every single link that came up, compared and contrasted various approaches, considered using a round cookie cutter to ensure that every cookie was an exact circle, debated the merits of butter vs. oil with herself, weighed the high temp vs. low temp oven, and ultimately determined that the first recipe on the list was, in fact, the right one for our needs.  Thus she turned an instant one-click answer into a full afternoon of intense research and internal debate.  But she felt very confident when we eventually did get started.   I was exhausted just watching her.

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