Creating fortune cookies with children is a multi-step process with lots of entertainment along the way. Except for a couple of adults-only jobs, kids can basically create fortune cookies on their own. Although we expect these little treats after a meal at almost any Chinese restaurants, kids might like to know that Chinese children have likely never heard of them. In fact, most histories trace the beginnings of fortune cookies to the United States or Japan.
Create the fortunes. Talk to children about what a fortune is; explain that pulling one of these out of a fortune cookie is made-up fun. Brainstorm some ideas for interesting fortunes. Provide children with slips of paper and let them use pens to write the fortunes they create. Alternately, kids could type these up, print them out and then cut them into little strips.
Line baking trays with parchment paper. Give kids a 3-inch cardboard circle and have them draw around it with a pencil on the parchment paper, leaving a couple of inches in between on all sides between circles. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
Prepare the batter. Melt the butter; this can be done safely in the microwave. While the butter is cooling, whip the egg whites, slowly adding the sugar; this is a job for an adult or, with older kids, for adult supervision. Stir in the melted butter. Slowly add the flour, the vanilla, and the water.
Pour some of the batter into a small pitcher or measuring cup with a spout so that kids can control it as they pour it into the 3-inch circles on the parchment paper. Place the baking trays in the oven and bake for five minutes. You may have bake them a little longer if they aren't a little brown at the end of the five minutes.
Take the cookies out of the oven and place on waxed paper. Center a message on each cookie and fold so that you have a semicircle. Then holding onto the edges of the semicircle at the fold, with the opening facing you, push down on the two edges while pushing the centre up to create the familiar fortune cookie shape. Let the cookies cool completely before serving.