Penguins are adorable and classy (all tuxedo all the time), and these little appetizers provided me two of my favorite things: praise for making something adorable and cream cheese. I encourage you to make them, too, because they're ridiculously easy, and because they'll get you lots of points at your next social gathering. My ex and I made these to take to a friend’s going-away party (the friend was leaving for Antarctica, so they were particularly fitting), and to be honest they were probably the cutest things there. I don’t know who originally came up with the idea, and I can't remember where we originally saw them, but I do know they should be replicated. Often. Also they're tasty!
What you need: black olives, cream cheese, a large carrot, a sharp knife, toothpicks.
How long this will take you: 15 minutes
Annnd we’re off.
First, open a can of olives and pour them on to a paper towel so you can sort out the larger ones from the smaller ones. The large olives are better for the bodies, the smaller ones for the heads. (Unless you want disproportionate penguins, which probably you don’t because that sort of disproportion is not cute in the same way that little puppies with huge paws are disproportionately cute.) Take the larger ones and cut a thin strip out from top to bottom:
(Don’t discard the strips you cut out, because you might choose to use them later.) Once you have as many hollow olive bodies as you want, take a knife and pack them with cream cheese. (This part's easier if the cream cheese has been out of the fridge for a little while, so it's softer and more malleable.) Take a toothpick and poke it through a smaller olive and then through the back of one of the bodies you just made. Peel the large carrot and thinly cut rounds from it, then slice a little V out of each one:
Don’t discard the V-shaped cutouts, because you’re going to use them as beaks in a moment. Stand each penguin up on a carrot round, and poke the toothpick through it to keep them in place. There will be some extra toothpick poking through the top of each penguin’s head, which is handy for when you take them to parties and people use the top portion of the toothpick to pick them up off the party tray and hold them in the air while praising your creativity. I mean, to pick them up and eat them.
To make your penguin's face, poke two holes for eyes, and then smear cream cheese in them. Cut a little cross below the eyes, and push one of the V-shaped cutouts into them to serve as a beak.
Ta-da, you’re done, hooray, all that! You can take those slices of the olives that you cut out in the first step, and press them into place to serve as flippers (wings?) on some of the penguins. One penguin should probably get a top hat, which you can carve out of excess carrot if you’re feeling super fancy (you are). The top hat could be even more snazzed up if accompanied by … a monocle? I don’t know. Go have a cocktail!
Laura Rodriguez lives in Northern California, and usually only eats animals that are made out of things other than ... animal.