We all have that kitchen drawer where we dump extra take-out paraphernalia: plastic cutlery, chopsticks, packets of soy sauce. The least practical, though, might be the fortune cookie, which never seems like quite enough when I’m craving dessert after eating Chinese food.
Extremely crunchy, usually vanilla-flavored, and sometimes stale, a fortune cookie is mostly good for a second opinion when you’re not feeling your daily Co-Star reading or need help picking Powerball numbers. Enter what I like to call the Custard of Fortune, a whimsical tart that uses crushed-up fortune cookies as its base.
Think of it as a graham cracker crust, made instead with fortune cookies. It’s crispier, with notes of vanilla and sesame oil. Once the crust is set, you can fill it with whatever custard or curd you’d like—pastry cream, lemon curd, even frozen margarita. I like to use an orange custard loaded with citrus zest, which pairs well with the vanilla crust. It’s a playful nod to the tray of orange slices that Chinese banquet restaurants often serve alongside the bill.
You should use an 8-inch tart pan, which will give you a thicker, crunchier crust, but a standard 9-inch pie pan will also suffice. Either way, one crust will require 25 fortune cookies, so if you don’t have the willpower to save up that many cookies, order a box of them like I did.
Here’s how to make a fortune cookie crumb crust:
First, you’ll need to crush the cookies—they’ll tear up your hands or rip through a Ziploc bag, so pulse them in a food processor or blender. (Just remember to remove the fortunes first, and set aside the good ones for later.) A mix of cookie dust and lentil-sized pieces is where you want to be.
Dump the cookie crumbs into a bowl and mix in 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Stir in 4 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter until all of the cookie crumbs are coated. Press the mixture into an 8-inch tart pan (or 9-inch pie pan) and bake it in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes, until it starts to brown. Let it cool completely.
If you’re baking your filling, brush the crust with an egg wash (just an egg, beaten with a fork until smooth). That will keep the crust crunchy, you know, like a fortune cookie. If your filling doesn’t need to be baked, brush with brown butter then fill.
If you want to go with an orange custard, beat 4 egg yolks and a 14-oz. can of condensed milk together until light and airy. Fold in 1 cup orange juice, 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest, and a pinch of kosher salt. Pour it into the crust and bake it in a 350° oven for 20 minutes.
If you really want to take it the extra mile, top it with whipped cream and some of those good fortunes for your party guests to fight over. Who knows, if those Powerball numbers work out, maybe your friends will return the favor and give you a slice.