Pastry Origami: Fortune Cookies

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

-Man who folds fortune cookies gets bent.-

350 fortune cookies. 5 friends. 1 industry convection oven. 1 culinary classroom.

This is how you have a party.

When one of our friends stated that she and her husband planned to have a garden party to reveal their new Chinese Garden - a project that had been two years in the making involving lots of heavy equipment, talented artists, and a research trip to China – we decided to pitch in and help with the food. When we were told it would be for 300+ guests we balked. "No problem," we said, because we fancy ourselves both gluttons for both cookies and punishment.

All of us had professional baking or restaurant experience, but none of us had ever made a fortune cookie. I was, technically, an exception as I had made them once, but it had been 10 years earlier and I couldn’t remember anything of the experience except I knew I would burn my fingers.

So we printed out some fortunes, cut out some stencils so we could spread out perfect circles of tuile dough, and after watching a few too many Youtube tutorials set to it.

-For those of you curious, "He Who conquers himself is happy," and "Man should walk in women's pants." I can't recall the others. One said something about BFE.-

-A serious factory line of people makes this WAY easier. As does a professional kitchen, but hey...-

Now making fortune cookies is a rather unique baking experience. The cookies only bake for maybe four minutes. They’re very wide and wafer thin so you can only fit perhaps three on a cookie sheet or six on a hotel size cookie sheet. In addition, they must be folded the second they come out of the oven. When you are folding them they're still radiating heat at a tepid 200F give or take.  You cannot wear thick gloves as they otherwise hinder the delicate dance your fingers must preform.

They are delicate. Cookies made of glutinous porcelain that shatter easily and, like a some old boyfriends, are soft to your touch at first before soon turning brittle and cold. So handle them and enjoy them while smoldering, but be careful not to get burned.

Fortune cookies, we mused, require suffering so you can impart knowledge. Blistered fingers lead to enlightenment. We hope.

(Typing is still kinda painful right now. Ow.)

-The Zen of Cookie.-

Still, it's all worth it. The resulting cookies are beautiful to look at. Neat rows of fortuitous baked origami.

The taste? You can't even compare factory made to these. We flavored the crisp tuile dough with orange and vanilla extracts. The resulting cookies were crisp, sweet, and floral as a tree in bloom.

It's a bit of an undertaking even if you plan to do not 350 of them. Still, they have a certain beauty about them and if you call over friend then, heck, it's a party.

Fortune Cookies
Makes 80-ish cookies

12 egg whites
3 cups sugar
2 cups butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons orange extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water

Special Equipment
manilla folders
muffin tin
baking sheet

1. To make the stencils cut 6 3-inch in diameter holes in the manilla folders and tape up any cuts that lead out from the edge (you don't want the flaps getting in the way).

2. Preheat oven to 375F and line a cookie sheet with a silpat (parchment paper can be used but it's a serious hassle). Have fortunes ready to go and close by.

3. In a large mixing bowl whip the egg whites and sugar on high speed until frothy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add in the butter, extracts, water, and flour; one at a time and mixing well after each.

4. Using an offset spatula spread a thin layer of batter over the stencils laid out over the silpat lined baking sheets. Remove the stencil and you'll have 6 perfect circles of dough! (A note, it took us a few tries to find the right thickness. Play around with your first batch and see what works.)

5. Bake for 6 minutes. Do not overbake. They should be pale in the middle and brown around the edges. Quickly remove and one at a time place a fortune in the middle and fold in half then fold the ends together in a horseshoes shape. We found that folding it over the curve of a rolling pin helped immensely with this.

6. Place in the slots of a muffin tin to cool and assist the cookie in retaining its shape.


  1. Those look incredible! Nice work! I hope you regain the feeling in your fingers soon.

    How long do you think these would stay good for?

    1. Lord, they were devoured in a single afternoon. I would imagine three or four days in an airtight container. =)

      You can totally halve or quarter this recipe, btw.

  2. I can't promise that I'll ever give these a try, but they sound quite delish & look so cute!

    Love the blog!!

    All my best to you & Hubby,
    Richard T.
    Dallas, TX

    1. Yeah, these are a bit of work. I admit. But they're worth trying at least once as I see it. =D

  3. My fingers cramped just reading this. I do love fortune cookies though. Especially the ones where they are translated in to Spanish on the back. So weird.

  4. Any tips on how you compiled and cut out the fortunes? : )

    1. Microsoft word, a printer, and a paper cutter. =)

  5. Microsoft word, a printer, and a paper cutter. =)

  6. My best friend and I made fortune cookies once, also probably close to ten years ago. We had written a bunch of bizarre fortunes, and were going to give the cookies out on April Fool's Day. Those things are a b**** to fold properly, and my fingers, too, were toasty for days afterwards. But taste-wise, homemade beat factory-made, no question about it! I will file your recipe away, for if I ever feel the need to make my own again. :)

  7. What a fun project to do with friends. LOTS of friends :)

  8. You should make them as favors for your wedding! ;)

  9. I may try in lesser quantities. Looks like a fun project.

  10. I made the salmon cornets from the French Laundry cookbook once, so my fingers feel your pain! Still - the taste always makes it worth the burn, eh?

  11. i cant wait to try! sounds just like tuile cookies made at school

  12. Nice article Garrett, I am adding it to my fortune cookie file with a few leftover fortunes and the X-rated ones I wouldn't print ! And all the great memories we had from that day.. I had made the cookies years ago also but didn't want to dig for that recipe so we tested a few and this one worked so well. The cookies were crispy for days in a sealed airtight container, so you can certainly make them ahead..

    1. Good to know. I still may try making chocolate ones. =)

  13. okay, someone had to ask, how many cookie sheets?

  14. We were using 8. Buyt like I said, we had an industrial kitchen.

  15. These sound delicious but I don't know about making that many! Maybe about 40 for a party perhaps.

  16. How fun! I must try these with my daughter.

  17. That is super fun! I can imagine your fingers would hurt!

  18. Do you think these could be frozen?


Hey, you're leaving a comment! That's pretty darn cool, so thanks. If you have any questions or have found an error on the site or with a recipe, please e-mail me and I will reply as soon as possible.

Vanilla Garlic All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger