Sometimes, when you stay at a hotel, you feel like the Fawlty Towers spirit is truly alive and well. I had a recent stay in a hotel overseas that went from bad to worse to terrible. It started from when I checked into the room. The carpet felt crusted over and I quickly donned some slippers that I had packed.
During the evening, a constant, loud tapping noise reverberated around me. I had the air conditioning and fan off so I was perplexed about its source. It turned out because I had the room right next to the elevator shaft the noise was the elevator cables going up and down. The bad news is that it was not going to stop because they had a football game that swallowed up the whole city. Every ten minutes or so a loud group of people would get out of the elevator and rehash the last moments of the game and then go through the details of the next day's meeting point.
Not surprisingly, I slept badly. The bed which had an adjustable mattress that was supposed to be a feature, was either like a sinkhole in the centre or a wooden plank and I woke up with a sore throat and a cold from a mysterious draught in the room. The next morning the bellhop came to collect my bags. He asked me what I was doing in the town and then proceeded to sell me his app on food and then chide me for my choices for dinner.
"You should have gone here, here or here" he said knowingly.
"Oh well could you write those names down for me?" I asked.
"Well you could just buy my app" he answered snidely.
At this point I was feeling quite fed up and I crossed the lobby floor to check out. "So, how was your stay with us?" the woman behind the front counter asked me.
I took a deep breath and decided that I may as well be upfront about it. "It was terrible" I said.
She answered her eyes widening and her mouth open like that of a row of clowns at a fairground. She remained silent and ignored my dramatic declaration. "Have a ...errm day" she said handing me my statement and I went on my way denied my chance to explain what I meant by terrible.
I'm not sure how to best deliver bad news but I do have an idea. I'm SO excited Dear Readers because Hallowe'en is coming up so soon and these misfortune cookies are a Halloween twist on fortune cookies, designed to deliver the worst news in a crisp, delicious cookie shell. I promise that with every bite of the delicious almond flavoured crispy shell the recipient will have forgotten the misfortune contained within.
I got to work on the fortunes ahem misfortunes first. They were a twist on the cheery, wise advice of regular fortune cookies. There were advice like "A new business venture is on the horizon-if you survive the night!", "Never get into a freshly dug grave" or just plain odd ones that sprang to mind like "Your conjoined twin misses you…" I then turned to other applications for delivering bad news. Do you need to break up up with someone? I've got you covered! How about "Roses are red, violets are blue. I’m going to put out an AVO on you" or the blunt "It' not me, it's you." If you want to use them I've uploaded the file here that you can print out - they're in spooky print of course and the perfect size to slip into a fortune cookie.
Making the cookies is straight forward but once you get a few under your belt, you'll be rolling them like a pro. It requires a bit of patience in that you bake three at once-they set quickly so you want to roll them while hot and you can do more if you have other people to help on hand. I cook them at a lower temperature for a bit longer so that you don't burn your little fingers. But once you get into a rhythm I promise that these fortune or misfortune cookies are so delicious that they will take the edge off any ghoulish or ghastly bad news that you may want to deliver.
So tell me Dear Reader, how do you go about breaking bad news to someone? Tell them straight out or dance around it? And do you feel nervous giving bad feedback to a business? Have you ever told a hotel or business that your experience there was terrible?
Misfortune Cookies (or Fortune ones, your choice)
Makes 18-20 cookies Preparation time: 10 minutes Baking time: 10 minutes per batch plus an extra 5 minutes at the end for all of them to crisp up
- 4 egg whites
- 2/3 cup caster or superfine sugar
- 120g melted butter, cooled
- 1 cup plain all purpose flour
- fat pinch of salt
- a few drops almond essence
Step 1:Preheat oven to 150C/300F and grease two trays with oil. Grease two cupcake or muffin trays. Print out and cut fortunes into strips.
Step 2: In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and whip until stiff. Fold in the remaining ingredients i.e. the butter, flour, salt and almond extract and mix.
Step 3: Using a tablespoon, dollop the batter onto the greased tray - do just three at a time because they set quickly. Bang the tray against the bench to flatten it out as much as possible. You want them about 10cms/4 inches in diameter if possible. Bake for 10 minutes until still pale but not sticking to the tray. I alternated trays so that a new tray was in the oven as soon as I pulled the other one out to avoid waiting too long between baking.
Step 4: Working very quickly, remove from the oven. With an angled spatula or butter knife flip the round over so that the top of the cookie is on the bottom (this will be the part that will show) and then place a fortune in the cookie and fold it over and then bring the sides towards each other like a crescent.
Place the folded up cookie in the prepared cupcake tray so that they keep their shape. If the other ones start to stiffen up you can pop them back in the oven for a minute or so to soften up. The first batch is always the hardest but don't lose hope, once you get the hang of how fast they need to be done, you'll be fine (and they're still delicious even if they don't fold).
Does a broken fortune cookie mean bad fortune?
Step 5: Repeat for the rest of the batter-you should end up with about 18-20 cookies. To get them to crisp up again, place the ones that are in the cupcake tray back in the oven for about 5 minutes until they crisp up further. Cool completely in the tin and remove. Store in an airtight container for a few days.