Last week was biscuit week on The Great British Bake Off. There were some spectacular sandwich biscuits, biscuit board games, and of course, the technical challenge… fortune cookies.
I thought this would be easy. I really did. Maybe it’s when you underestimate a challenge that it proves most difficult. But it was hard. You have to shape them straight out of the oven, no matter how much it burns your fingers, and the longer you bake them, the crunchier and more delicious they get, but the less maleable and more difficult to shape, too. In short, I found the balance of being able to shape, but keep them crunchy nigh-on impossible. Plus, the recipe calls for them to be baked at 130 degrees for 10-12 minutes, but after 15 minutes at 150 they still weren’t even nearly crispy.
As ever, the recipe direct from Paul:
2 large egg whites
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp water
65g plain flour
1 ½ tsp cornflour
pinch of salt
100g caster sugar
For almond fortune cookies
1 tsp almond extract
150g white chocolate – this was enough melted chocolate for me to coat 2 batches and then some
50g blanched hazelnuts, toasted
For the orange fortune cookies
1 tsp orange extract
orange food colouring
Step 1 – Heat the oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat. Write fortunes on pieces of paper measuring approx. 6cm x 1cm. I printed mine out ahead of time after Googling inspirational quotes. I thought 6cm was a bit too wide – in future I would suggest 5cm x 1cm pieces of paper.
Step 2 – Whisk the egg whites, vegetable oil and water together until frothy but not aerated.
Step 3 – Sieve the flour, cornflour and salt together in a bowl, then stir in the sugar.
Step 4 – Add the egg white mixture to the bowl and beat to a smooth batter. Try not to incorporate any air during the beating as you don’t want bubbles in the batter.
Step 5 – Divide the batter equally into two bowls.
Step 6 – For the almond fortune cookies, add the almond essence to one of the bowls, mix together then set aside.
Step 7 – For the orange fortune cookies, spoon 2-3 tbsp of batter from the second bowl into a disposable piping bag and set aside. Add the orange extract to the remaining batter with some orange food colouring . Mix well together until the batter is bright orange.
Step 8 – For the almond fortune cookies, place 2 tbsp of the almond batter on the silicone mat, spaced well apart. Using the back of a metal spoon, swirl the mixture to form two circles measuring 9-10cm. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the outer edge is light golden brown. As mentioned at the start, I couldn’t get these to crisp enough. I don’t know if it’s because they were too thick, or whether they just needed more time in the oven or what. But I was baking mine for more like 15 minutes at 150 (despite my fan oven).
Step 9 – Remove from the oven and working very quickly, lift one cookie off the tray, place a fortune in the centre and while the cookie is still soft, fold it in half and pinch the semi-circular edges together to seal. Place the middle of the folded edge of the cookie over the rim of a glass and gently pull the corners down on the inside and outside of the glass, to form the classic fortune cookie shape. Place in a 12-hole muffin tin (as this helps to hold the shape) to cool and quickly shape the second fortune cookie. This isn’t actually as hard as it seemed.
Step 10 – Repeat twice more with the remaining almond batter making a total of 6 almond fortune cookies.
Step 11 – For the orange fortune cookies, place 2 tbsp of the orange batter on the silicone mat, spaced well apart. Using the back of a metal spoon, swirl the mixture to form two circles measuring 9-10cm. Snip the end off the piping bag and pipe 6 dots around the edge of the circle, 1cm in from the edge.
Step 12 – Place a cocktail stick in the middle of one of the white dots and drag the cocktail stick to the next dot, and then the next dot (like dot to dot), until you have been through all the dots to form a white pattern around the edge of the orange batter.
Step 13 – Bake and shape as above, making 6 in total. BE AWARE that you have to shape the orange fortune cookies with the white pattern facing outwards, as the pattern won’t show through the cookie if you fold it up from the tray.
Step 14 – To decorate the almond cookies, melt the white chocolate. Dip the end of the cookies in the chocolate, then sprinkle with the toasted, chopped hazelnuts.
They just didn’t snap – so frustrating. That was also my second batch – my first batch were definitely worse.
But – credit where credit’s due, my brother really smashed this technical challenge. Check out his first ever attempt at fortune cookies below – he says it didn’t even burn his fingers – serious asbestos fingers over there. I was only slightly jealous…