Friday, May 3, 2013
A good deal of ink has been spilt chronicling the trials and tribulations of being a graduate student. And with good reason, since said trials are many: the long hours, the miniscule (if any) pay, the annoying ridicule we're subject to from grumpy old professors who don't see the point of the modern probability theory revolution .... ahem and eye roll. And we graduate students undertake all of this knowing full well that only very few of us will make it into academia in the long run (we just really, really hope it's us!).
Part of what makes it all live-able, however, is the fact that we are also terribly good at laughing at ourselves and at our own predicaments. Take PhD comics, for instance, or #whatshouldwecallgradschool. Poking fun at grad students is easy. Even Tina Fey does it!
So last week, when I was scheduled to speak at the year's final lab meeting, my linguist-cum-baker partner-in-crime Andréa and I thought we should celebrate the end of the year with some special fortune cookies for the lab. Yes, these fortune cookies were special in that some were matcha and orange flower fortune cookies and others were brown butter and almond fortune cookies (flavors far superior to your normal run-of-the-mill types), but really the special surprises were the misfortunes tucked inside. My favorite? p = 0.06.
A full list of our misfortunes is available here.
The misfortune cookies managed to elicit some great hand-to-forehead-smacking reactions at the lab meeting, which was quite gratifying. But really hidden behind these misfortunes was some optimism for fellow students: grad school might suck every now and then and we might not all make it, but at least cookies, laughs, and some good old reflexive schadenfreude can make everything seem better for now.
Read on for recipe....
makes about 12 - 18 fortune cookies
for basic recipe:
4 Tbspn unsalted butter
150 g (¾ cup) sugar
3 large egg whites
60 g (½ cup) all-purpose flour
for matcha-orange blossom cookies:
1 Tbspn matcha powder
½ tspn orange flower water
for brown butter cookies:
½ tspn almond extract
1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. If making brown butter cookies, cook the butter until the solids have dropped to the bottom and begin to brown. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, but don’t let the butter resolidify.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, egg whites, and flour. For matcha cookies, add the matcha powder and orange flower water. For brown butter cookies, add almond extract instead. Whisk until the mixture thickens and is well-combined, with no more lumps. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 300° F. Prepare baking sheets lined with silicone mats. Have ready a coffee mug and a muffin tin, for shaping and cooling the cookies, and paper fortunes. Working two cookies at a time, spoon a small, scant Tbspn of batter for each cookie onto the silicone mat, leaving a few inches in between. Use the back of a spoon to spread the batter into a thin circle.
4. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few seconds. Place a fortune on the cookie, fold the cookie over in half, press the edge together lightly to seal. Then, using the edge of the mug, indent the cookie in half on the folded side of the half-circle, bringing the ends together. Place in a muffin tin to cool.
Note: for the fortunes, I used 8-pt Times New Roman font, which turned out to be a good size.