Is there any cookie in the world more magical and enchanting than a Chinese Fortune Cookie? No way. My heart and the corners of my mouth lift every time I am presented with one in a restaurant. How in heaven’s name are they made? And what will my fortune say this time?
Of course the fortune is always positive and often uncannily spot on. If only the same could be said for the cookie. It’s often stale, rock hard, or dry as dust.
Which is precisely why intrepid, discerning cooks must venture into uncharted territory and learn to make our own good fortune cookies. Luckily, they are very simple cookies—basically just egg whites, flour, sugar, and melted butter.
And you can flavor them in dozens of delicious ways. Green tea fortune cookies? Chocolate fortune cookies? Brown butter fortune cookies? Peppermint fortune cookies? After you master the basic technique, you can whip up dozens of variations.
But what about making our own good fortune, along with the namesake cookies?
Most of us think of good fortune as something that miraculously happens to us from the mysterious “out there.” And yet, mystics of all spiritual persuasions continue to direct us inward.
Could it be that the source of all goodness in our lives resides within our own hearts and our willingness to allow life to unfold without resentment or rejection? To allow others (and ourselves) to be just as they are without any desire or need to change them? To know unequivocally that we are loved and blessed beyond all measure in very moment of our lives? Can we allow the possibility?
I plan to ponder these mysteries on New Year’s Eve as I eat these delicate, delicious cookies, each holding a message directed at the heart. I hope you'll join me.
Good Fortunes for a Joyful, Heart-Filled New Year
Here are the sayings that come to mind as I ponder this past eventful year.
- Everything is a miracle.
- Be the change you want to see.
- Your heart knows the way. Listen.
- You are the light the world is waiting for.
- You are everything you will ever need.
- It’s not out there. It’s in here. Always.
- You are the love you are waiting for.
- Love is never lost.
- Every moment is filled with grace.
- You are loved more than you know.
- If it isn’t love, drop it.
- Excuse me while I kiss the sky.
- Speak less, listen more.
- Melt into gratitude.
- Love is the only thing you get to keep.
- The mind breaks. The heart bends.
- Love is all there is.
- You are already home.
- Let go and see what happens.
- Go with the heart.
- While you rant at the moon, it continues to shine on you.
- For one hour, don’t believe a thing your mind says.
- Laugh. Sing. Dance.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your companionship in the LunaCafe kitchen this past year. You're such good company. May this wonderful New Year be filled with grace for you and those you hold most dear.
To say these cookies are delicious is an understatement to the max. They’re sublime, transporting, revelatory, and magical. I make them a thin as possible, so they shatter in an intense burst of vanilla on first bite.
Ingredient Note What to do with all those vanilla beans you used once and then carefully dried for another use later? Grind them in a small spice grinder (aka coffee grinder used for spices only). The flavor they give these fortune cookies in simply incomparable. No amount of vanilla extract can replace ground vanilla beans.
Technique Note To protect your hands from the heat while you shape the very hot cookies, it’s best to protect your hands with flexible rubber gloves, which you reserve only for baking. I use Atlas 370B Nitrile Gloves and they work great. Some bakers suggest white cotton gloves instead.
Technique Note These cookies spread and release easiest on a generously buttered, heavy, edged baking sheet. No need for parchment paper, foil, or silpat liner.
Baking Note In testing, I baked these cookies at 300°F, 325°F, 350°F, and 400°F. Many bakers specify 300°F for fortune cookies, and after many tests, I agree. Higher temperatures tend to produce cookies with beautifully browned edges and underdone centers.
Baking Note For best results, do 2-3 test runs with only 2 cookies each time to make sure the consistency of the batter is just right, you are comfortable with the shaping technique, and your oven temperature and timing are perfect. Better to botch a couple of cookies than an entire batch.
scant ½ cup (2 ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch (¼ ounce)
½ tablespoon ground vanilla bean
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 extra-large (4 ounces) egg whites
½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and warm
2 tablespoons warm cream or water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter for the pan
- In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, vanilla bean, and salt. Reserve.
- In a larger mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar until creamy and frothy, about 20 seconds.
- Whisk in the melted butter and cream.
- Whisk in the flour mixture until smooth, about 20 seconds. There should be no lumps.
- Transfer the batter to a 2-cup measuring cup with a pouring spout.
- Lightly coat an edged baking sheet with butter, and then pour 2 teaspoons of batter for each cookie, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. With a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread each pool of batter to a 3-inch diameter. (The baking sheet will hold 6 cookies, but it’s difficult to shape that many cookies before they begin to cool. So unless you are a fortune cookie shaping whiz, bake only 2 cookies at a time.)
- Bake at 300ºF for 12-14 minutes. When done, the cookies will be dark golden brown around the edges and light golden brown in the center. If you underbake the cookies, they will be chewy rather than shatteringly crisp.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and using the thinnest flexible spatula you have, quickly insert the spatula under the edge of a cookie, and then use a rather forceful push to propel the spatula all the way under the cookie.
- Quickly lift the cookie from the baking sheet and place top-side-down in a glove protected hand. Place the fortune in the center of the still pliable cookie, and then bend the cookie gently in half. (The edges won’t adhere to each other; that’s as it should be.) Grasp the two ends of the cookie and bend down over the edge of a thick-edged coffee mug to form a crease at the center of the cookie. Nestle cookie in a muffin pan indent or something similar (ends down) to set its shape as it cools. If cookie hardens too quickly, put it back in the oven for about 1 minute. Repeat with remaining cookies.
- When cookies are shaped and thoroughly cool, immediately layer in a cookie tin, separating layers with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Seal and store in a cool, dry place.
Storage Note I can’t tell you how long these will keep, as they are always gone within 30 minutes at our house. These cookies are hydroscopic and attract moisture, quickly losing their crispness when exposed to air. Be sure to seal them airtight as soon as you can.
Makes 1¼ cup batter; about 2 dozen, 3-inch diameter, cookies.
More Asian-Inspired Recipes from LunaCafe
- Asian Pancakes (Beijing Pancakes)
- Asian Tacos with Prawn & Shiitake Filling & Cabbage Slaw
- Chinese Cracker Jacks
- Home-Style Chinese Fried Rice
- Spicy Korean Noodle Soup (Jjambbong)
- Spicy Pork Wonton Soup
- Thai Red Curry Paste
- Thai Red Curry Soup
- Vietnamese Crispy Crepes (Banh Xeo)
Cookin’ with Gas (inspiration from around the web)
- About.com: Fortune Cookie Recipe
- Annie’s Eats: Fortune Cookies
- Desserts for Breakfast: (mis)Fortune Cookies: Matcha-Orange Flower and Brown Butter
- eHow Video: How to Make Miniature Fortune Cookies
- Food & Wine: Green Tea Fortune Cookies
- Food Network: Delicate Butter Fortune Cookies
- Food Network: Fortune Cookies
- GreenMoxie: DIY Fortune Cookie Recipe
- Lady Fortunes: Favorite Fortune Cookie Recipe
- Martha Stewart: Fortune-Cookie Favors
- Moms Who Think: Fortune Cookie Recipe
- Our Best Bites: Fortune Cookies (no oil or butter)
- Savory Sweet Life: Words of Encouragement: How To Make Fortune Cookies
- Sugar for the Brain: Red & White Valentine’s Fortune Cookies
- The Kitchn: Make Your Own Fortune Cookies
- Video: How To Make Fortune Cookies
Copyright 2013 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.