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Tuesday, September 27, 2005 

Fortune Cookies...Not what you might think!

Fortune cookies are widely believed to be the invention of Makota Hagiwara, manager of Golden Gate Park's Japanese Tea Garden in 1909. He served his invention to the Tea Garden clientele and it quickly became an rousing success. Like many innovators satisfied with a smile and handshake as a reward, he didn't bother to copyright his creation.

This oversight allowed Chinese merchants to copy and market the fortune cookie which became famous as San Francisco's Chinese Fortune Cookie.

Los Angeles eventually chimed in with a claim as home to the first fortune cookie. Eventually this dispute went to court where the claim was found to be without merit, leaving San Francisco the undisputed birthplace of the fortune cookie.

As fortune cookies became popular,
fortune cookie factories opened up, first in California and then other places in the United States. Eventually, the fortune cookie would be exported all over the world, even to China. A machine that automatically inserted the fortune and folded the cookie was invented in the 1970s by Edward Louie of San Francisco. The first fortune cookie factory finally in China in 1993.

Fortune Cookies

Makes 15
These delicious cookies don’t have to be confined to Asian meals; they also are wonderful party favors, place cards, or everyday desserts. The batter used to make these fortune cookies is traditional tuile batter. Tuiles are thin, crisp cookies that are easy to mold into curved shapes while still warm from the oven. Remember, the key to success with these oversize cookies is to shape them quickly.

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large egg whites
1 cup superfine sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 pinch of salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
Nonstick cooking spray

1. Heat oven to 400°. Spray a cookie sheet liberally with cooking spray. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg whites and sugar, and beat on medium speed, about 30 seconds. Add flour and salt, and beat until combined. Add butter, heavy cream, and almond extract, and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.
3. Pour 1 tablespoon of batter onto half of the baking sheet, and spread with the back of a spoon into a thin 5-inch circle; repeat on the other half of the sheet. Bake until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown, about 8 minutes.
4. Transfer baking sheet to a heat-resistant surface. Working as quickly as possible, slide a spatula (an offset spatula, available at specialty kitchen shops, works best) under one of the cookies. Lift it up, and place it on a clean kitchen towel. Using your fingers, fold the cookie in half, pinching the top together to form a loose semicircle. Hold the cookie with your index fingers inserted at each open end, and slide your thumbs together along the bottom line. Press into the center of the cookie while bending the two open ends together and down to form the shape of a fortune cookie. This whole process should take about 10 seconds. Once the cookie hardens, which begins to happen almost immediately, you cannot fold it. Place the fortune cookie on the kitchen towel to cool, and shape the second cookie. Repeat until all the batter is used up. To speed up the process, bake four cookies at a time, staggering two cookie sheets by 4 minutes to give you time to shape. To avoid wasting batter, practice folding with a circle of paper first.
5. Write your message on a long strip of sturdy art paper, such as Japanese moriki. Thread the fortune through the cookie when it has cooled.

Not sure where you can get them, but there are such things as fortune-cookie moulds - they must be findable in some of these Asian craft shops or food shops...

Just so you know, I know the artist who did the painting of the fortune cookies. She is very upset that you have used her artwork without her permission. Please remove it from your website.

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