Gung Hay Fat Choy, friends, and Happy Chinese New Year! (Horrific western attempt at Chinese right there). This year, Chinese New Year is on 8th February and it’s the year of the monkey. The 9th position on the Chinese zodiac, the monkey symbolises curiosity, mischievousness, and cleverness.
Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, is a centuries’ old festival celebrated in lots of East Asian countries with large Chinese populations, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Thailand. As it goes by the lunar cycle, the first day of the New Year falls on the new moon between 21 January and 20 February (so this year, it’s the 8th February). Windows and doors are decorated with red paper decorations and money is given in red envelopes, as red is a colour of good luck, fortune and happiness, they light firecrackers and fireworks, and they have large reunion dinners.
I had planned my own Chinese New Year feast for this weekend, but unfortunately, life gets in the way. So whilst it looks like I won’t be able to make the sprawling Chinese buffet I had planned, I still managed to get into the Chinese New Year spirit and make a few fortune cookies.
Of course (sorry to burst your bubble) fortune cookies aren’t even Chinese. They have basically zero connection to China at all, which made me immensely sad when I found out. Perhaps they stem from the Chinese Mooncake, which also had hidden messages in the middle, but fortune cookies are an American invention. But hey, if it means you’re still acknowledging Chinese New Year in some way, that’s not a bad thing. Right? (Sorry China.)
So they aren’t Chinese but here in the UK, they come with every Chinese take away you buy. They’re the pick me up after you’ve eaten your weight in Chinese food and couldn’t possibly eat another thing… Until someone looks in the takeaway box and finds the fortune cookies, and you each take one and snap them open and read out the ambiguous fortunes (‘that thing you’re waiting for will happen’) and laugh at how ridiculous they can be. My personal favourite fortune I received was that I would ‘inherit some money or a piece or land’. (I’m still waiting on that.)
These fortune cookies are the most fun recipe you can make. Write vague fortunes, roll the cookies while hot, burn your fingers, forget to put the fortune in, unroll again, bend the wrong way… (all from experience). See if you can spot the one I rolled completely wrong in the photograph above! Not only that, but they taste so good. Sweet, vanilla, crunchy cookies. Even before it’s cooked, the batter is so nice (I always think this is a good signifier of a nice recipe). I challenge you to not eat all the fortune cookies in one sitting.
This recipe uses one egg white. To use up the leftover egg yolk, why not try making the crème patisserie from this recipe and use it to fill profiteroles, or you could make some sweet shortcrust pastry using the recipe here and make jam tarts!
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MAKES 12 cookies
PREP 20 mins
COOK 10 mins
▪ Will keep for 2 days in an airtight container
1 egg white
50g caster sugar
40g butter, melted
½tsp vanilla extract
50g plain flour
1 Preheat the oven to 190°c/325°f/Gas mark 3. Grease a large baking tray. Prepare your fortunes in advance and print them onto paper so you have them ready.
2 Whisk the egg white and sugar together using an electric hand whisk on a high setting until light and frothy. This will take about five minutes.
3 Add the melted butter and whisk until combined. Then whisk in the water, followed by the vanilla extract. Finally, add the flour. Whisk for a minute or so until it resembles pancake batter.
4 Spoon the batter onto the tray and spread out into even circles. Leave space so that they have room to spread. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until the edges are just going golden brown. Remove from the oven, and whilst they are still warm, place a fortune on each cookie, fold in half, then press the edges together. Pinch the ends and bring them together into a horseshoe shape. Place into a muffin tin to ensure they keep their shape whilst cooling. ▪