Cartmel Sticky Toffee Sauce, piccalilli, teas, Colman's mustard, curds and preserves, canned haggis.... One of the cheapest treats in the shop was a little biscuit I'd never heard of called a Penguin.
According to the advertising, if you're feeling p...p...p...peckish you should p...p...p...pick up a Penguin. I bought one and finally munched it the other day (you can't believe how long I keep these things around) when I was feeling unseasonably hungry, and was pleasantly surprised. I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but it wasn't the fluffy crunch of this chocolate biscuit.
In case you've never had the pleasure of tasting one of these minute treats, a Penguin is a sandwich of two chocolate biscuits and a layer of fluffy chocolate cream—then the entire thing is covered in chocolate. Doesn't get much better than that, does it?
William McDonald started making these biscuits in Glasgow way back in 1932, and chocoholic Brits have been gobbling them up ever since. Now produced by McVitie's, the Penguin is said to have shrunk a bit since the old days, and has lost "the composite foil grease proof paper wrap of yesteryear" (according to Nicey of nicecupofteaandasitdown.com, a site I highly recommend for serious biscuit research), but is still a darn good accompaniment to a cup of tea.
One trademark of the Penguin brand is the joke on the biscuit wrapper. You've heard the miserable jokes stuffed in English Christmas crackers, but you don't know what a lame joke really is until you've read a few Penguins.
- What do penguins sing on a birthday? ............ Freeze a jolly good fellow.
- Why do penguins carry fish in their beaks? ........ Because they haven't got any pockets.
- What did the Welsh penguin call his daughter? ........ Pen-gwyn.
- What do you call a penguin in the desert? ........ Lost!
See? I told you they were deplorable.
I wish I had known about the Tim Tam Slam before I gobbled up my only Penguin.
A Tim Tam is an Australian biscuit similar to the Penguin (they're arch rivals, just so you know), and it is common practice to use them as straws for a hot beverage. Apparently the slam has been performed successfully with all kinds of choccy covered biscuits. Here's the how-to:
- First, bite opposite corners on either end of your Tim Tam (or Penguin, in our case).
- Place one bitten end in the beverage of your choice, and the other in your mouth.
- Suck the drink through the biscuit, and as soon as you feel the warmth hit your lips it's time to slam that thing in your mouth before it disintegrates into a gooey, warm, chocolatey mush.
Making Your Own
There are those who would contest the assumption that a Penguin is simply a chocolate dipped Bourbon Cream. But in the interest of replicating this British specialty in your own kitchen, you might be able to get away with doing just that. Or you could create the whole thing from scratch to replicate the unique Penguin texture. Check out bitemebuttercup.wordpress.com for a copycat recipe that is sure to leave you drooling.