Not My Holiday (Except For The Fortune Cookies)
In 1989, Meg Ryan put on a strapless taffeta dress and ruined New Year’s Eve for the rest of us.
I mean, please. I spent my formative years thinking something like this was going to happen to me at a New Year’s Eve party. Emmm . . .no.
But I finally got over it. I started going to those parties in jeans, by myself, and I actually had fun.
And then I had a couple of New Year’s Eves that made me question the wisdom of getting out of bed on December 31.
One of these was the New Year’s I spent in Washington, D.C. At the end of the night, I was on the metro and the car lurched. A young man reached out a hand to keep me from falling, but he hit the noisemaker between my teeth and the damned thing got lodged in the roof of my mouth.
You know that conversation they have in movies, when a guy has a knife in his leg and his buddy’s all, “maybe we shouldn’t pull it out yet, in case it’s stopping the bleeding”? Imagine honking that conversation through a noisemaker. It’s super awkward, very loud, and impossible to look attractive while doing this.
A few years later, my friend threw a New Year’s party at her boyfriend’s apartment in Brooklyn. We were going to partake in a Colombian tradition of writing our deepest regrets of the year on origami paper, folding them into swans, and burning them at midnight.
Awesome idea, I thought to myself. Not something you can mess up easily, unless you have a swan phobia or your regrets include a lot of felonies.
But because I am required by law to make a public spectacle of myself on December 31, I used a permanent marker and I didn’t put scrap paper between the origami and the table.
Am I being clear about this? To this day, my most intimate secrets from 2009 are listed in permanent ink on my friend’s boyfriend’s coffee table.
New Year’s Eve, man. It kills me.
So this year, I’m going to write myself a bunch of awesome fortunes for 2012. I’m going to put them in homemade fortune cookies. That way, when I’m inevitably bleeding from the head, cursing a piece of furniture and mortified, at least I won’t be hungry.
Horray! Happy New Year!
These were a lot of fun. We used retired Snapple facts as the messages in our trial run. (For example, fish can cough? Who knew! You can find loads of traditional fortunes by googling.) The ingredients (which Scott found here) are easy, and the cookies only bake for a few minutes.
The only trick is (1) spreading the cookies thinly (crepe-thin) on the baking sheet; (2) not overcooking them; and (3) quickly folding them as soon as they come out of the oven, before they cool.
It took us one or two baking sheets’ worth (3-6 cookies) to get the hang of it. If you are the tiniest bit patient, it’ll pay dividends. They are delicate–nothing like the thick, flavorless cookies you get at a take-out restaurant. And the almond extract makes them extremely tasty. They’re over-sized–about twice as big as what you can buy in the store.
New Year’s Eve Fortune Cookies
3 egg whites
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 c. flour
2 tbsp. water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter one baking sheet and warm it in the oven. (The batter will be easier to spread on a warm sheet. You need to work quickly when they come out of the oven, so don’t do more than one sheet at a time.)
Have a muffin tin on hand (for cooling the cookies) and have the fortunes ready on small strips of paper.
Melt the butter in the microwave and let it cool for a few minutes.
Separate eggs and discard yolks. Whip egg whites and sugar together in an electric mixer on high until frothy, about 2 minutes.
Reduce speed to low and stir in melted butter, vanilla, almond extract, water and flour.
Spread the batter into three or four thin (about the thickness of a crepe), three-inch circles on the baking sheet, leaving lots of room between each, because the cookies will spread. Working a spatula in concentric circles helps get a thin, round cookie.
Bake 5-7 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown. This is important: The cookie may be impossible to fold if the brown creeps in more than maybe a 1/4″ from the edges. But if they don’t brown at all, they’ll be like pancakes and won’t crisp up.
Working very quickly, remove a cookie from the sheet and place a fortune in the middle. Fold the cookie in thirds, with the two flaps barely overlapping in the middle of the cookie. Then fold the ends together into a horse shoe shape. Place a finished cookie in the muffin tin so that it holds its shape while it cools. Repeat, one at a time, and then make another sheet.