Gung Hei Fat Choi!! Happy Chinese New Year!!
I absolutely love this time of year. It’s my version of Christmas. The streets are decorated with red and gold signs, lanterns and flowers. They are also full of people lining up to watch the parade of lion dancing, firecrackers, and talented musicians smashing away on huge drums and gongs. Everyone is so happy and giving, wishing you good fortune for the new year to come. Isn’t it wonderful!
My huge family always gathers together for a feast and silent prayer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not religious but I feel a quiet grace when I thank my ancestors and the deities that be, for the good fortune that I have presently and for the many that I will receive in the future. It is humbling and I feel very grateful.
I decided to make fortune cookies for my Chinese New Year theme blog post. Like a diligent little elf, I made sure I did my research before I started. Double-checking that I had the right recipe and information. It was to my utter devastation that I found out, Fortune Cookies are not traditionally Chinese. They were concocted by some Asian cook in an American kitchen. It felt like someone has just told me Santa Claus doesn’t exist. So I threw the idea away and started looking for something else. But when the time came to make something, the Fortune Cookie idea wouldn’t leave me.
So, what if it isn’t traditional? It is everything that Chinese New Year is about… food and hoping for great prosperity to your neighbours and family. So, to hell with it! I made them anyways and they disappeared quicker than you could say “Gung Hei Fat Choi”!
Recipe adapted from Cookies by Martha Stewart
4 large egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon of pure almond extract
45 paper fortunes
Vegetable oil or cooking spray
1/ Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (400 F). Coat a baking sheet liberally with cooking spray.
2/ In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine egg whites and sugar, and beat on medium speed 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.
3/ Leaving space for one or two more cookies, spoon 1 teaspoon of the batter onto the baking sheet, and spread with the back of the spoon into an even, thin 3-4 inch circle; repeat. Bake cookies until the edges turn golden brown, about 8 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.
4/ Transfer baking sheet to a heat-resistant surface. Working as quickly as possible, slide an offset spatula under one of the cookies. Lift it up, centre a paper fortune on top of the cookie. Using your fingers, fold the cookie half, pinching the top together to form a loose semi-circle. Hold the cookie with your fingers and bend it over a side of a cup, quickly place it in the hole of a muffin tin. This whole process should take about 10 seconds. Once the cookie hardens, which begins to happen almost immediately, you cannot shape it.
5/ Repeat until all the batter is used up. To speed up the process, bake three cookies at a time staggering two cookies sheets by 4 minutes to give you time to shape. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
I found the method section of this youtube video to be very helpful.
Tips from the cookbookmaniac
* The recipe called for almond extract. I couldn’t find it, I only came across almond essence and had to settle for this. I also forgot to buy the cream and used full-fat milk instead. It all worked to make this sweet, crunchy, good humoured cookie.
* I have semi-asbestos hands. Do no attempt this with bare hands if you are sensitive to heat. Wear some gloves.
* You are better off printing the paper fortunes. The pen ink transferred to the cookie for the paper fortunes that I wrote out. I had to throw these cookies away
* Using silicone baking sheets will save you a lot of hassle. You won’t need to use vegetable oil and you won’t need to deal with cookies getting stuck on baking paper.
* I am super surprised how well these turned out, but these were a bitch to make. I started with two at a time for every 8 minutes, then when I felt confident I did 3 at a time, then I interchanged two trays every four minutes with 3 per tray. I was in the kitchen for 2 hours looking after these babies on a rainy, humid day. grrr.
Here are some Fortune Cookie sayings that I found on the internet
It takes more than good memory to have good memories
Make two grins grow where there was only a grouch before
Be mischievous and you will not be lonesome
You will find a bushel of money
You can always find happiness at work on Friday
If you want the rainbow, you must put up with the rain
We cannot do great things; only small things with great love
Your family is young, gifted and attractive
The best year-round temperature is a warm heart and a cool head
Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds
Happiness isn’t something you experience; it’s something you remember
Having it all doesn’t necessarily mean having it all at once
A small house can hold just as much happiness as a big one
Help, I’m trapped in a fortune cookie factory