Friday, May 3, 2013

(mis)Fortune Cookies: Matcha-Orange Flower and Brown Butter

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 AndrĂ©a 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....

Fortune cookies
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.



  1. Like autumn shades in a cookie! They look delish!

  2. Lovely cookies! I love their color.



  3. Shaz@shazkitchenMay 3, 2013 at 3:08 AM

    Why aren't there matcha fortune cookies out there? The crisp cookie is perfect for the slightly bitter and very fragrant matcha. Love the extremely hilarious mis-fortunes too.

  4. Looks delicious! It's funny, I was just telling my best friend how we should make our own fortune cookies with relationship advice to give to her butthead of a boyfriend :P lol. Will definitely suggest your recipe!!

  5. I love these in every way! The cookies, the flavors, and the misfortunes. It's just perfect! Those darn p values definitely haunt a few of us out there. :)

  6. You are so incredibly clever! I love the idea of making homemade fortune cookies...a weekend project coming on I think!

  7. I wanted to make these awhile back but came across way too many bad looking recipes. These look perfect! My husband just finished his dissertation. I think he'll love this post. Cheers to pretty cookies making grad school more manageable!

  8. Ashley @ Any Lovely ThingMay 3, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Fortune cookies are my favorite cookies! These are beautiful; you are so good at what you do! I'm saving this recipe for sure.


  9. This is such a great idea! I'd never have thought to try making fortune cookies at home. As a postgrad student, the (mis)fortunes are just too funny – I love the p = 0.06 one.

  10. I love that they are misfortune cookies. So grad school appropriate :) I look back with fond memories on my grad school days, now that they are behind me!

  11. Funny and delicious! Love it!

  12. p = 0.06 Ahahahahahahaha. I would have laughed and cried if I got that (mis)fortune. So spot on, and so hilarious.

  13. These are brilliant on so many levels. I love when individuals are able to bond over 'misfortunes.' I know I faced a lot of trials during my thesis for my master's in education, the greatest of which was trying to reach my professors and get validation over the work I believed in so much. In the end though, even if there were disagreements, if you stuck to what was in your heart, you couldn't go wrong...

  14. I love, love, and (dare I say it?) love everything about this post. What fun to run into another PhD student/moonlighting dessert blogger from the Bay! I'm sure you've seen this already, but just in case you haven't, it's our lives in a nutshell. glad I've stumbled across your blog here, looking forward to some more fun times and recipes! --Ala,

  15. Tracy | Peanut Butter and OnioMay 7, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    Wow , very adventurous!

  16. Love the flavors and colors of these fortune cookies. And what a hilarious read! :D


I love hearing from you and reading your comments! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Happy feasting!