“I really fancy some fortune cookies.” A sentence which, I suspect, has rarely, if ever, been uttered in the English language. It must be up there with, “I could murder a chocolate-coated coffee bean,” or “Sugared almond you say? Yes please.”
Come on Bake Off. I know the technical bakes are supposed to be tricky, but surely they should be recipes that people actually want to eat. Honestly, if this wasn’t only Week Two, I wouldn’t have bothered, but I said I would try and make the technical bakes, and I couldn’t not make something just because I didn’t fancy it. Not so early in the series anyway. Perhaps home-baked fortune cookies would be a revelation. The dampfnudel of the new series.
I put my cynicism aside and turned to the recipe which, again, was from the Great British Bake Off website.
I fell at step one really because I didn’t write any fortunes and I didn’t line a baking sheet with a silicone mat. I couldn’t think of anything to say, and I don’t have a silicone mat. They’re pretty expensive, so I didn’t want to invest in one. Not to make something that I didn’t think I was going to like. Baking paper would have to do. I did, however, remember to turn the oven on at 130° fan to heat up.
The Cookie Mixture
First of all, I whisked egg whites with vegetable oil and water. The recipe says that you should do this until the mixture is “frothy but not aerated”, What the..? What does an aerated mix of egg whites, oil and water look like? Unsurprisingly, I found no help in any of my cookbooks. Strangely enough, neither Mary nor Delia haven included fortune cookies in their baking books. My mixture looked like this once I’d whisked it.
Whether it was aerated or not I could not say.
I sieved plain flour, cornflour and salt together and mixed in some caster sugar. I added the egg white mix and beat it together. The recipe tells you to take care not to incorporate any air into the mixture. How you do this it doesn’t say. Here is my batter.
There were some bubbles in it, but not that many. Were there were too many? Again, I could not say.
I decided that I was only going to make one type of cookie, not the two that the Bake Off contestants had to make. Time was short, but really I didn’t have the inclination. I added almond essence to the mixture and stirred it in.
Baking and Assembly
The cookies had to be baked only two to a baking sheet. They were made by spooning one tablespoon of mixture per cookie onto the sheet which, remember, was supposed to be lined by a silicone mat but, in my case, was lined with baking paper. The recipe says that you should use the back of a metal spoon to swirl the mixture into a circle measuring between 9 and 10cm. I didn’t measure them, but I thought my circles looked about the right size.
I put them into the oven at 130° fan. The recipe says that they should take between 10 and 12 minutes, and that the outer-edge of the cookies should be a light golden brown when they are done. The edges of my cookies were just about starting to turn golden brown after 18 minutes. I took them out of the oven at 20.
After taking the cookies from the oven, the advice was to work really quickly. I had to lift them from the baking paper, seal the edges together, bend the cookies by placing them over the rim of a glass and put them into a muffin tin to let them cool down.
As I suspected when they took 20 minutes cooking time, my first two cookies were too think. As soon as I put them over the rim of the glass they split open.
I tried to make my third and fourth cookies thinner. It didn’t quite work. I still had to given them a long time in the oven (17 minutes this time) and still they split. Five and six were better. Thinner, done in 12 minutes and they didn’t crack quite so much. Seven and eight were much the same. I seemed to be getting the hang of it with nine and ten, and eleven and twelve were OK. I had a little bit of batter left, so I went for number thirteen. It cracked.
I intended to decorated the cookies with chocolate and chopped hazelnuts as per the Bake Off. It’s lucky I had quite a lot of chocolate left over from last week’s chocolate mini rolls because, somehow, I managed to ruin a whole bar of milk chocolate and half a bar of white when I tried to melt them. I would never class myself as a great baker, but surely I could manage to melt a bar of chocolate. Obviously not.
Anyway. I put my last bit of chocolate, plain this time, into the microwave, put it on very low power and watched it for a very long time until it had successfully and glossily melted. Then I dipped the tips of my fortune cookies into it and gave half of them to the kids to do their usual stuff with sprinkles and shiny silver balls. I rolled mine in toasted hazelnuts.
Here they are.
Were they worth it ?
A resounding no. They were not. They were too thick, too cracked and too rubbery. My husband generously said that the flavour was nice, and I thought that the chocolate and hazelnuts tasted good (although a Ferrero Rocher would have been much, much better). We did get through them, but not with any pleasure. We were just hungry. The ones with the sprinkles and silver balls went into the bin (I don’t think the birds, other than the magpies we occasionally get in the garden, would have appreciated them). I’m not sure whether fortune cookies, in general, are a bit rubbish or whether I just wasn’t up to the challenge. A bit of both I suspect.