To welcome the Year of the Tiger, how about making your own fortune cookies? It's easier than it looks, and you might just find it fun.
Mainly because -- think about it -- you get to write your own fortunes! Oh, the possibilities -- will you be charming or practical or passionate or vindictive in your fortune compositions?
Before tackling the cookies, prepare the fortunes. Instead of using the computer, find an old typewriter and bang out some retro-looking homemade fortunes customized for their intended recipients, and cut them into strips. Set aside.
Next, make up the batter. As usual, here at Monday Night Martha, Martha Stewart provided the recipe for the cookies.
The recipe itself is pretty simple: just butter, egg whites, sugar, flour, heavy cream and almond extract. The batter is a very pale color.
Next, it's time to bake the cookies. Here's where things get tricky. Spoon about a tablespoon of batter onto a well-oiled cookie sheet. In a swirling motion, spread the batter with the back of a spoon until you have about a 5 -inch circle. (Or smaller, depending on the size of fortune cookies you want -- go bigger to get the slightly supersized ones you get at restaurants.)
Martha recommends cooking for about 8 minutes. Frankly, this was too long -- 4 to 5 minutes seemed to get the job done.
Now, because you have to fold these suckers when they are piping hot, and because once the cookies cool (which begins to happen almost immediately) they become impossible to fold -- Martha recommends baking only two at a time. Ideally, you should have two baking sheets going in the oven, staggered by about 4 minutes, so you can get a little assembly line action going.
Fortune cookie folding is best done as a team effort. Get yourself a cookie-baking partner, (preferably one who doesn't mind burning the crap out of his or her fingertips). Although we started with only two cookies on a sheet as per Martha's instructions, we worked up to being able to handle 5 cookie discs each cooking cycle.
Beware: Trial and error demonstrated that a non-stick pan works far better than classic aluminum.
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Things move along at a quick pace and lo-and-behold -- youh might just end up with cookies that look like the real thing. And they taste good, too.
We were predicting disaster for this project, but they turned out pretty great. You will get some sensitive fingertips and there may be some shrieking, but we like an interactive baking experience. Get a team together, go forth and make fortune cookies.