Monday, September 25, 2006
I have heard of people making fortune cookies. I even seem to recall recipes for them, ones that never got off the ground in my kitchen because they called for "orange water." Eh?
But yesterday I found a simple recipe for fortune cookies in an old (May 2006) copy of Cooking Light magazine. I like fortune cookies. And these have no fat! No cholesterol! Only four ingredients! And no orange water! So I whipped up the batter and overlooked my misgivings.
First off, the batter tasted bad. With only bread flour (bread flour? tiny alarm bells in my brain began ringing.), sugar, egg whites, and vanilla, there's not much there to taste. It reminded me of the cardboard boxes that sweetened kids' cereal comes in. (Not that I've ever eaten the box, but I can imagine.)
While the batter rested in the fridge (and the brand new Pyrex measuring cup it was in exploded, necessitating a complete fridge clean-up and a quick check of the Pyrex website, which is neither here nor there), I had lots of fun looking up fortunes and fortune cookies on the web. Wikipedia, as usual, had the best information, which you can read here if you're interested. (Yes, I did make a second batch of batter.)
Making the cookies was a nightmare. (The Pyrex explosion should have been a warning to me.) Here's how:
Draw 3-inch circles on baking parchment (and can anybody find a protractor in this house? Seems like I buy one every year from the kids' list of required school supplies, but they never use them and the sneaky devices scuttle away on their pointy little legs to hide with all my good pens and scissors.)
Measure all your cups and glasses to find one with a 3-inch rim. Draw the circles. Then tape the parchment to the baking sheets.
What? Tape? In the oven? Are they nuts? No way am I cleaning baked-on glue from my cookware. Let the darned paper curl whatever way it wants. (And it does.)
Now measure a teaspoon of batter (that's a tiny little dab) and spread to cover the now alarmingly large 3-inch circles. It doesn't work. It won't spread that far. Try to hold the parchment steady while you do this. The parchment is now alive, and wiggles and crunches in its efforts to wave free.
Add more batter. Have a clue in your little head that the recipe author knows what she's talking about when she tells you to only bake three cookies at a time, and only cover three of the circles.
Figure out that adding more batter was the wrong thing to do when the cookies take 9 minutes to bake instead of 5.
Scrape the cookies off the parchment, which has developed a powerful attraction to them, lay a fortune on each one, fold in half without breaking, then fold again over the edge of a bowl. The author mentions that you might have to hold the cookies in shape for a few moments while they set. Now these cookies, which were set enough to crack upon leaving the oven, now do not want to hold a crease. Hold the cookies for about half a minute before giving up.
(Spread, bake, scrape, fold) endlessly in this ridiculous baking project that you intended to do with your daughter, but you spared her the agony and let her play computer games instead.
Go down to the basement for a Chinese rice-grain plate and discover one dead mouse and one live one. Scream. When the family does not notice, scream repeatedly until they thunder down the stairs (it takes quite a few screams).
Place the few cookies that managed to fold more-or-less properly on said rice plate and take a picture for the blog.
Present cookies to family. Have them peer suspiciously at the pale blobs, take one nibble, and declare the cookies inedible.
Write family out of will.
I will not surrender to cookie misfortune. Obviously the planets were not aligned or something. Although I may wait some time before making another attempt. I don't want my house to explode.