Saturday, 25 May 2013

Nibbly Bits - Baileys Fudge, Chicken Skin Popcorn & Olive Penguins

I was invited to a friends house for a Girls Night In on Friday night but with one condition. "Claire you have to bring me olive penguins! Deal??" Some people just aren't happy with a bottle of plonk. I've made quite a few batches of Pingu's over the last couple of years and they were a huge hit at my 40th Bithday Cocktail and Canapes party with one little chap stowing away in a friend's pocket so she could recreate them herself.
They are admittedly a wee bit fiddly to do but the cuteness makes it all worthwhile. Ideally you need jumbo black olives for the body and smaller ones for the heads. Slit the body and use a knife to stuff it with cream cheese and a damp piece of kitchen roll to remove any smears. The beaks are a wedge cut out of a slice of carrot which then forms the feet. A cocktail stick brings everything together.
I've not tried it, but if for some reason you don't like olives you might be able to do something similar with black grapes. I even wheeled them out in a festive version for our Pinnies and Petticoats Christmas Party. Tomberries and piped Philladelphia formed their Santa hats.
Toffee, Fudge, Tablet and the likes is just not something that is in my culinary repertoire. Its one of those scary things that I fear would just go horribly wrong. At an end of term soiree with Rock Choir one of the members made the most amazing Baileys Fudge. She assured me it was really very simple and was happy to share her recipe. I decided it would be perfect for the School Fair Cake and Candy Stall. Alas it all went a bit pete tong. Without a sugar thermometer I over boiled it and got Baileys Toffee. Just call me Willy Wonka.
Second attempt, with a borrowed sugar thermometer form F worked a treat. This is definitely the way to go. Going to have to get me one especially as it will also come in handy for preserve making.

BAILEYS FUDGE
120ml evaporated milk
200g white sugar
200g soft brown sugar 
170g butter 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
60ml Baileys (plus a couple of glasses for yourself...) 
200g icing sugar 

In a heavy bottomed pan put the evaporated milk, butter, both sugars and salt and heat to melt. Keep stirring as you increase heat to boiling point.
Stir constantly until your sugar thermometer reaches between 230-240F (soft ball)

Take off heat to cool for a minute or two before stirring in the Baileys and the vanilla extract. Then slowly sift in icing sugar in portions into the pan stirring thoroughly each time.
Once icing sugar all in stir thoroughly then transfer into a lined tin. Leave parchment over the side which makes it easier to lift out. Leave in the fridge for an hour to set. 
Cut into squares and eat (ideally with a cup of Baileys Coffee...)

Finally a recipe that I bookmarked a couple of months ago but never got round to making. Chicken Skin Popcorn by Nigel Slater. I am a big lover of popcorn and go for savoury every time. I also have a real guilty food pleasure in eating crispy chicken skin so for me this was a match made in heaven. Next on my must make list are these Roasted Cashew Nuts by Recipes from a Pantry. 
It was so good. Buttery, crispy, salty indulgence. Great to accompany an afternoon in the sunshine with G&T to wash it down. I tweeted my Popcorn a la Nigel Slater and got a reply from the man himself: Extraordinary. We were eating some chicken popcorn only yesterday. Such fun.

12 comments :

  1. What a lovely post, 3 in 1 and I am in love with your penguins they are so adorable that I am definitely going to make those the next time I have a party!

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    1. Even olive haters love the penguins. They are just too cute.

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  2. The penguins look great - not sure that my digital dexterity is up to recreating them. Reckon mine might turn out like badgers!

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    1. Your badgers comment had me quite literally spluttering tea over my keyboard. My sister in particular would love it if we could come up with some badger canape action. Over to you...

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  3. Ooh, I haven't made fudge in years, both your unintended toffee and final fudge look good. And those penguins are super cute.

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    1. I hereby declare that from now on it I shall refer to my fudge disaster as Unintended Toffee. Love it.

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  4. You penguins are adorable! My children are big fans of olives and cream cheese, so I think I'm going to have to make these for them for a special occasion. Can't say the chicken skin popcorn sounds appealing to me though. As a child I used to love the chicken skin, now, the thought of eating it makes me queasy! So glad you got so much enjoyment out of it though! :)

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    1. Crispy chicken skin is up there with crackling as far as I'm concerned. Definitely a guilty pleasure. Let me know how you get on with the penguins.

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  5. Crikey a post to die for...would be more than happy with any of these...love the penguins, love the sweet treats, but the popcorn is genius. Thanks for entering dish of the month. x

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    1. The genius is all down to Mr Slater.

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  6. Oooo, gimmie that chicken skin! Looks delectable.

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  7. Just found your penguins - they are just so adorable. I might make them for my husband as a joke - believe it or not he has penguin-phobia! Vohn x

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