Photo: Monika Bartyzel
Starting from scratch, the whole world of divination can bend at your whim with self-made fortunes, perfectly flavored cookies and a festive chocolate coating perfect for Christmastime.
Creating the Fortunes
It's easy to just head to the store and pick up premade cookies (which is an option when time is crunched), but they don't pack the same punch as homemade fortune cookies. Baking from scratch allows the perks of creating your own fortunes or messages to slide inside the folds -- which is arguably the most fun part of the process.
You can make fortunes and holiday-specific good tidings, but an even better option is to customize the fortunes with something a little unexpected. My favorite option is grabbing quote books and pulling out funky phrases. All of the pictured cookies have one of two options -- Nancy Drew quotes for the kids and old-school Drew fans and Oscar Wilde quotes for the adults.
Click open the gallery to learn how!
Simply keeping the recipient in mind makes all the difference -- sporting quotes for the sports buffs, movie quotes for the film fiends (it can even become a guessing game), music lyrics, memorable sayings and phrases from friends, literary quotes or jokes. The fortunes won't be expected and will give a lot more bang for the effort.
Make sure your messages are short, and try to keep them no more than one line long, 3 to 3.5 inches in length (use a 9- to 12-point font or hand-write them). If one happens to be a touch too long, fold the fortune in half before inserting it into the cookie.
Making the Cookies
The tricky step is actually making the cookies. Unfortunately, they're not as easy as throwing some ingredients together, placing tablespoons on a pan and baking. But it's also not quite as difficult as you might think. There are a number of techniques and recipes out there, some that strive to embody the perfectly classic treat and some that make compromises. Yes, you could fold them into a flat shape like Howcast suggests, use a thick dough that requires a stove top or a pancake/crepe technique, but those aren't true fortune cookies and aren't worth the loss in accuracy.
Whichever recipe you choose, just make sure that the mixture is fluid and creamy rather than thick or watery. The pictured cookies were made using this mixture from About.com. The video below uses the same recipe and will show you how the dough should look, and how it should come together.
Any flavor combination will work. Stick with the vanilla-almond punch, or adapt to suit your own taste buds.
I would suggest sticking with a classic 3-inch diameter for each cookie rather than the slightly-large 4 inches they recommend. You'll get more cookies and they will be just the right size.
If free-forming the cookies seems daunting, trace the 3-inch circles on a piece of parchment paper, flip it over, and use the circles as guides for the shape.
If a muffin tin isn't handy, use a shot glass to keep the cookie in shape until it cools, which will only take a few minutes. Then transfer the cookie to a wire cooling rack.
Bake only a few at a time. Trying to speed up the process by baking many at once will cause the cookies to cool too quickly and crack. To optimize your time, add a helper, use an oven and toaster oven, or prep a second pan to go in as the other comes out.
Adding Festive Flair
The best way to make fortune cookies festive is to add a little melted chocolate -- especially if you don't have time to make your own! If you're a pro at tempering chocolate, have at it, but it's more festive and easy to just pick up some melting wafers in Christmas colors. Follow the directions for melting the wafers, dip each cookie in, and then leave to cool or press into non-pareils or sprinkles for a festive Christmas treat.