Saturday, 9 August 2008

Beijing 08.08.08...Fortune Cookies and Chinese Custard Tarts

In case no one noticed, the date yesterday was 08.08.08 ("8" is a very auspicious number in Chinese culture) and not surprisingly, the date chosen for the opening ceremony of the Olympics held in Beijing. When Quikong invited our friends, N & T, over for dinner last night, I thought that it would be a great excuse to have Chinese as the theme for the meal. And a terrific reason for me to go food shopping in Chinatown! It's amazing the kind of interesting ingredients that one can find there. It certainly fires up my culinary juices.

The Menu:
Starters - BBQ duck buns, Chive dumplings, Scallop siu mai and Prawn gow gee (all steamed)
Mains - Crab Fried Rice, Sweet sour garlic prawns and stir fried baby pak choy
Dessert - Homemade fortune cookies and Chinese custard tarts (recipes below)

The most fun part of the evening was watching our friends N and T crack open their personalised fortune cookies. Quikong was the mastermind behind the funny "fortunes". I don't recall where I got this fortune cookie recipe from. I think that it tasted good and looked authentic but after a day, it lost its crispiness. Perhaps the container that I stored it in was not airtight. If anyone has a reliable Fortune Cookie recipe, please let me know. I am keen to try again because it really is so much fun to serve at dinner parties.

Fortune Cookies
1 extra large egg white
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp almond essence
pinch of salt

- Cut 3- by 1/2-inch strips of paper and write or type your own fortunes with non-toxic ink.
- Preheat oven to 180°C. and butter a baking sheet.
- In a small bowl whisk egg white just until foamy. Add flour, sugar, essences and a pinch salt and beat until smooth. Depending on the size of your egg and the type of flour (it varies in every country), add a few drops of water to achieve the desired consistency.
- Put 2 teaspoons of the batter on buttered area of baking sheet and with back of measuring spoon (or your index finger) spread batter evenly into a 3 inches diameter circle. It has to be rather thinly spread out (almost translucent), otherwise the cookie will not be crispy.
- Bake cookie in middle of oven until golden around edge but pale in center, about 5-8 minutes. - Working quickly, with a spatula remove cookie from the baking sheet and invert onto a kitchen towel. Put a folded fortune in middle of cookie and fold cookie in half. Bend pointed edges of cookie toward each other. Use a muffin tin to hold the cookies in shape as they cool (stick the pointed ends down into the tin).
- Make more cookies with remaining batter in same manner, letting baking sheet cool slightly between cookies. Makes about 10 cookies.

These custard tarts remind me of my childhood. Bakeries in Singapore are commonly run by Singaporeans of Chinese backgrounds so these tarts can be found everywhere. Some were made with shortcrust pastry while others with flaky pastry (similar to Portuguese-style custard tarts); some were round and yet others were oval in shape. My sis was the custard tart connoisseur - we've lost count of how many different eggs tarts she has "tested". We used to judge bakeries by its custard tarts and dinner rolls. :-)

Chinese Custard Tarts
(from Australain Women's Weekly Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook)

Tart shell:
Your fav. short crust pastry/pâte brisée recipe#

3 extra large eggs
1/3 cup
caster (superfine) sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
few drops of yellow food colouring*

#Use half butter/half shortening to achieve a lighter, flakier crust
*This can be ommited but it does give the deep coloured custard that is characteristic of these tarts that are commonly seen at Chinese bakeries and dim sum restaurants.

- Roll out the dough to 3mm thickness. cut out with a 8cm fluted cutter. Put into buttered patty tins. No need to blind/par bake the tart shell.
- Beat together eggs and sugar. Gradually add milk. Add vanilla essence and food colouring (if using). Mix well but try not to produce bubbles. Pour custard carefully intro prepared pastry cases.
- Bake at 220°C for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 180°C, cook further 10-15 minutes until the custard is set.

: The filling makes approx 30 small tarts.If you end up with leftover custard mixture after all the tart shells have been filled, butter a ramekin and bake the custard without the shell.


As for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics - I was really blown away!!! Did you catch the opening ceremony? What did you think of it? It was also Margot's (Coffee and Vanilla) birthday, so Happy Birthday, Margot!! I hope that you had fun with M & the kids. :-)

Have a nice weekend and a terrific week ahead everyone!


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I've always wanted to try making fortune cookies, but somehow never worked up the courage to do it. I love the idea of making personalized fortunes for friends, too.

Eva said...

I really admire your perfect dinner party! I'd never thought of making my own fortune cookies! What an effort to pull it off so flawlessly!

Nora B. said...

Hi Lydia,it was a bit fiddling to make, but worth the effort. I will try a different recipe thought because of the problem I mentioned.


Hi Eva, I wouldn't call it "perfect" but it was a very nice evening that everyone enjoyed. I'll make some cookies for you guys soon :-)

Coffee and Vanilla said...


Thank you soooo much for remembering my birthday :)))) This year I got very special gift from M (I will tell you more in email)... we did not do anything special, because I had lots of retouching to do but it was very special day anyway.
I had a chance to shop in Chinatown as well and I got finally boba tea and tapioca pearls for kids, I will post about it tonight.
We are watching Olympics as well, our favourite are gymnastics :)
Have a wonderful day, Margot

Kevin said...

Those homemade fortune cookies look great! It would be fun making them and filling them with fortunes.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Wow you have some lucky friends--that whole dinner sounds amazing! Those fortune cookies are impressive!

Gloria (Canela) said...

Really love Nora your fortune Cookies I will try, are so cute and I like so your chinese custard tarts!! xxxGloria

veron said...

never thought of fortune cookes as homemade. And that is a very lovely tart too!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nora. I loved the Opening Ceremony!!! It was fabulous!!

Love your recipes! I enjoy the egg custards very much - Must try to make them myself now :)

Dhanggit said...

i saw the beijing ceremonies and i was completely blown away :-) it was so spectacular!! home-made fortune cookies what a great idea!!

Bearskitchen said...

Hi Nora,
What a wonderful blog that you've.
I'm extremely curious and more than ready for preparing these fortune cookies, they look great.
On the other hand I take this chance for inviting you to visit our blog.We would appreciate your opinion about it.Here I leave you the adress:

With greetings from The Netherlands,

Nick & Carolina.

Nora B. said...

Hi Margot, glad that you had a special day and your special gift from M is fab!!!

I always get carried away in Chinatown, bought way to many things. But it's all good because we are eating all of the stuff :-)

I like swimming and athletics most.


Kevin, it was heaps of fun. I just need to try another recipe.


Thanks, Mike. I always love having friends over - much more relaxing and enjoyable, although I like eating out as well. The difference is when it's a dinner party, we can take our time.


Spillay, the opening ceremony was so amazing, wasn't it? So many surprises and very creative.

These egg tarts were delicious. I will try them with puff pastry or filo next I think.


Hey Dhanggit, I've been watching the olympics everyday now.


Nick and Carolina,
Thanks for dropping by my blog. I had a look at your recipes, I already see one that i want to try - the Sacher Torte! I've been looking for the ideal recipe so I will be trying it soon.

Toni said...

Oh Nora, what a great idea for a dinner party! I don't think it would occur to me to even TRY making fortune cookies! And the rest of the dinner looks terrific, too. You're an inspiration!

tigerfish said...

Those fortune cookies looks exactly like the ones in Chinatown, San Francisco! Or they look the same everywhere? :P

Stella (Sweet Temptations) said...

I'm Chinese & never thought about making fortune cookies or custard tarts. I should follow your example! and your recipe as well:)

Cynthia said...

I wish there was a Chinatown in these parts.

The menu sounds so yummy.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

That looks like a perfect way to welcome the Olympics - with friends and wonderful Chinese food. I would make my husband very happy if I made him fortune cookies.

Nora B. said...

Hi Toni, awww, thank you! It was a really enjoyable night. :-)


Tigerfish, well I made these myself, so maybe we are all using the same recipe?? ;-)


Hi Stella, I've been wanting to make these for a while. Funnily enough, and you can ask Daffy this, we don't usually have fortune cookies in Chinese restaurants in Singapore.


Thanks Cynthia. Chinatown is a great place to buy food stuff.


Hi Lynn, if you do try to make these cookies, don't forget about my comment that my cookies did not remain crispy the next day. So you can fiddle with the recipe a bit more or perhaps try a different recipe and let me know. I want to make more of these in the future, but want to make sure that they are presentable the next day.


KJ said...

Hi Nora, your dinner party sounds fantastic. I love custard tarts, so I am pleased to have another recipe to try.

Gloria (Canela) said...

Nora I hopemake soon these chinese curds tartalettes look so good how I tell you!
If you want see my Blog I made other recipe with Dulce de Leche, I know you like!!xxxxGloria

Susan from Food Blogga said...

You made homemade fortune cookies? That's so cool. I've always wanted to try them, but have just never gotten around to it.

Nora B. said...

Hi KJ, yeah!! Someone else that likes custard tarts :-)


Gloria, I am heading over to your blog NOW! Thanks for thinking of me :-)


Hi Susan, I know what you mean. I keep putting it off but finally decided to make some. Will definitely do it again and not wait too long this time.

katiez said...

Fortune Cookies!!!!
We went out for a Chinese dinner with some British friends last night...
First, Chinese food in France is, um, different than what I'm used to... But, not only did we not get Fortune Cookies, the British friends didn't even know what they were!!!!
Now, if I get ambitious, I can make them!

Gloria (Canela) said...

My dearest Nora, Yes I look again the recipe and the word is TABLESPOON in all, so I post the word again, many thanks is more exactly to the people! Hugs! Gloria

Half Baked said...

Sounds like a great dinner party! Love the homemade fortune cookies!

Jeena said...

Lovely recipes they sound wonderful. How clever for you to make those cookies wow. :-)

Aimée said...

What a fantastic menu, Nora! How fun to throw an Olympic theme party. We were blown away by the opening ceremonies and are quite hooked on all the events!

Margaret said...

How brilliant - homemade fortune cookies. I must look the AWW Chinese book out because the custard tarts look delicious.

Sandy Smith said...

Wow - your fortune cookies are perfect! So impressive! :)

Kate / Kajal said...

Ooh these fortune cookie are so adorable, lets say i picked one from you ...what does my fortune say ? :p
love the custard tarts ... they are such a traditional treat.
The opening of the olympics was breath taking wasn't it ?

Nora B. said...

Hi Katie, I never knew about fortune cookies till I traveled to the USA. It wasn't that common in Singapore when I was growing up.


Half-Baked - thanks! It was heaps of fun.


Jeena - thank you. I was a bit more fiddling that I anticipated, but it worked out in the end :-)


Aimée - Thank you. We've been watching the events religiously everyday :-)


Margaret - There are lots of good, interesting & simple recipes in that cookbook.


Kate - Ooh....maybe it would say something like "You will be making a delicious dessert with condensed milk and pistachios" ;-)

Big Boys Oven said...

Wow! I just can wait to break a fortune cookie and see what it has to say about me this second half of the year! :)

Susan said...

What fun, Nora! I have this little boxed fortune cookie kit w/ word slips, cutter and recipe, impulsively picked up while waiting on line at Barnes and Noble. Haven't baked them yet, but I'm really psyched now by your post.

Zarina said...

My kids love fortune cookies. And when we eat out, thay want to go to a particular restaurant because it's the only halal one which gives them fortune cookies at the end of the meal. Now I can make my own and we can eat at other restaurants! And I won't need to worry abt leftovers ;)Thanks for the recipe.