Who doesn’t love fortune cookies, cracking open the crispy, sugar shell to get the “fortune” inside?
Even in Hawaiʻi, you can find fortune cookies everything, given as favors as weddings and graduation parties or after-meal snacks at Chinese restaurants.
While this crispy wafer-like cookie is often assumed to be rooted in China, its origin is actually Japan. Small family-run bakeries in Kyoto were making fortune cookie-shaped crackers by hand in the 19th century. Today, about 3 billion fortune cookies are made each year—and most of them are consumed in the U.S.
Today, on National Fortune Cookie Day (July 20, 2020), we talked with Cheryl Ohta of Hawai‘i Candy, a Honolulu-based that starting baking Japanese senbei (tea cookies) in 1933 and now specializes in coconut balls, puff rice cake and, yes, fortune cookies.
“We’ve been making handmade fortune cookies for three, almost four generations,” says Ohta, who serves as the company’s treasurer and human resources manager. “It’s rare to have a family business that’s been passed down through four generations, but we’ve been really fortunate because 90% of our raw materials are sourced here. We try to keep everything local. If the ingredient is not local, we order it through a local company.”
One of Hawai‘i Candy’s unique offerings is its custom fortune cookies that come in two sizes—the smaller size is 3 inches and the larger is double that at 6 inches in diameter. “We’ve put engagement rings, keys for cars, money for graduation in the giant fortune cookies,” says Ohta, with a laugh.
Hawai‘i Candy also prides itself on its cookie’s positive messages, like “give someone a high-five today” and “look for the silver lining,” which are all written in-house. “More than anything, we just want to make someone’s day,” says Ohta.
In addition to their best-selling fortune cookies, Hawai ‘i Candy is also known for its ginger wafers, which use the same cookie base as the fortune cookies, and red coconut balls, which are a Hawai‘i Candy original. To make the ginger wafers, Hawai‘i Candy first bakes its Japanese tea wafer batter in small rounds, then coats the outside with freshly ground ginger and corn syrup. Finally, the batter is baked one last time before more ginger is added on top.
Order your own handmade fortune cookies, visit hawaiicandy.com. The company even ships internationally.
If you would like to make your own fortune cookies at home, we’ve provided a recipe below.
Simple Fortune Cookies
- 1 egg white from a large egg
- ⅛ tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar
- A pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix egg white and vanilla extract together until foamy (not stiff peaks). Sift flour, sugar and salt together into the egg white mixture. Place spoonfuls of the batter onto a baking sheet at least 4 inches apart. Tilt the baking sheet so that the batter forms into smooth round circles with a diameter of about 3 inches. (Note: do not put too many cookies on the sheet because you’ll need to shape the cookies before they cool.) Bake for five minutes or until the cookie rounds become golden on the edges. The center of the cookies will still be pale. Place your fortune paper in the middle of the cookie round. Then, quickly fold the cookie in half, and place it on the rim of a cup so it forms its iconic fortune cookie shape.