Saturday, January 1, 2011

Zen and the Art of Fortune Cookies

It's the beginning of a new year, a fresh start. Out with the old and time to start anew. It's 1/1/11 and what will the future hold? What prophetic words of wisdom will come forth? It's time to consult the Fortune Cookie for guidance. And who better to write those words than a college student. My son's friend Val, started penning enigmatic sentences while I mixed the cookie batter. The origin of the Fortune Cookie is in dispute, with many claims and theories. We were more concerned about how to shape these things than where they came from. I am glad I was on spatula duty and not folding and shaping. I can truly attest that the saying, "Many hands make light work" applies here. Hmmmm....that would have made a good fortune! After I thinly spread the cookie batter in 3 inch circles, I baked the cookies in a hot oven for about 5 minutes. Since you have to work quickly, we made only 3 at a time. Zac and Val placed the written fortunes on the hot cookies, folded them in half, and put on the final bend by placing them on the edge of a coffee mug. This all has to be done within seconds of them coming from the oven. Once shaped, they are placed into a muffin tin to keep their shape as they cool and harden. At first we fumbled a little, dropped a few things and cracked some cookies while shaping them. Then we got into the Zen...the flow of it, and turned them out as we worked as one. I think this one was for me. The cookies are very tasty with a hint of almond, and mainly stayed crunchy. We had one batch that was a little thicker than the others and got soft in the middle. They didn't crack and break open as well. All in all, they were fun to make, and I'm sure were an auspicious beginning to our new year. We feel very fortunate, indeed. I wish you a very Happy New Year, great new beginnings, good fortune and the best in 2011.

Fortune Cookies
(Loosely adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies)

4 large egg whites
1 cup superfine sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons half and half cream
25-30 paper fortunes, about 3-5 inches long

Preheat oven to 400℉ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine egg whites and sugar, and beat until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add flour and salt, and beat until combined. Add butter, cream, and almond extract, and beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Make 3 cookies at a time by spreading batter in a 3-4 inch circle with the back of a spoon, onto the baking sheet. Use 1 tablespoon batter for each cookie.

Bake the cookies until the edges just start to turn brown, about 5 minutes. The baking time varies with each oven, so watch closely. When they are done, remove them with a flexible metal spatula one at a time. Place one paper fortune in the center of a cookie. Fold hot cookie in half, being careful not to burn your hands. Pick up the cookie and place folded side down on the edge of a coffee mug to form a dent in the bottom center. This may take a little practice. Place the folded cookie in a muffin tin to cool and harden. Work quickly since the cookies will harden in seconds. If you need to soften the cookie again, reheat (not bake) for a minute or 2.

Makes 25-30 Fortune Cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

For a few fortune saying ideas:

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