Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chinese Fortune Cookies

I love Chinese food. Maybe not the real authentic stuff with raw fish and seaweed, but PF Changs is certainly up on the list of my favorite restaurants. Maybe not exactly what you would find in China exactly, but hey, they call it Chinese and I love it.

You can read about the origins of Chinese New Year here. I thought it was great, though, that Wikipedia mentioned that "Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also the tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity"...The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone."

And, just in case you were wondering...2012 is the year of the DRAGON! Very Harry Potter-ish, right?

Here at Girls in Aprons, we really look for excuses to make good food, and Chinese New Year is no exception, even if we don't technically celebrate it. I played around with a few recipes and finally came up with one that, well...worked. My first batch was thick and tasteless. My second was thinner but still didn't quite have the taste I was looking for. Finally, I figured out a recipe that gives you a sweet, almondy taste with a bit of a crunch. And a fortune, of course.

PS: Want to make a whole meal? Try our fried rice and egg rolls with your cookies. It will become your go-to meal for any Chinese holidays!

For starters, you need a really cute sous chef. Then you whip up the almond extract and the egg whites until they are foamy. Don't go for soft peaks, you'll have whipped them too much. The best way I can describe is soft, soft peaks. The whites should have doubled in size.

Generously butter a cookie sheet (unless you have amazing cookie sheets that have super-non-stick powers). You only want to bake about 2-3 cookies at a time, because you have to be quick like lightning when they get out of the oven, otherwise they cool before you can bend them in shape.

Using the back of the teaspoon, spread the batter around into circles about 3 inches wide.

While your cookies are baking, lay out your previously made fortunes so they are ready for the grabbing. I would have normally printed some, but we are fresh out of ink, so I wrote a few. As did my 7-year-old, with such ominous fortunes as "Beware of the bathtub" and "You should watch two hours of tv today". Mine was more like hints, such as "Love is cleaning your room without being asked" and "Chocolate is a great way to say sorry."

As soon as your cookies come out of the oven, flip them over and lay a fortune down. Immediately fold them in half and put the center on the lip of a mug. Pull down on both ends to fold the fortune cookie (see pictures).

A muffin tin helps the fortune cookies keep their shape, and after they are all done, you can stick them in a 200 degree oven to dry them out a bit (some of them, depending on the thickness, can be a little cakey).

Chinese Fortune Cookies
by Kelli Lafranca

2 egg whites
1/2 tsp almond extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with butter. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, using egg beaters, beat the egg whites and almond extract until foamy but not stiff. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well.

Pour a teaspoonful of batter onto prepared baking sheet and, using the back of the teaspoon, spread into a 3-inch circle. Repeat two more times, making three cookies per sheet. Bake for 5 minutes or until starting to brown at the edges. Using a spatula, immediately remove the cookies from the baking sheet, flip them upside down (bottom is now on top) and place a fortune slip on top. Fold in half and place the cookie on the edge of a mug and pull down on the corners. Place in a cupcake pan to help hold the shape while it cools.

If your cookies aren't dry enough for you, stick the cupcake pan in a 200-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

**I found most of my fortunes (except for the crazy ones, we made those up) here.

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