Without sounding too much like my mother, I’m of ‘that age’ that grew up with Harry Potter- let’s call ourselves the ‘Potter Generation’. Life events have coincided with the release of each new book and film, and words like Quidditch, Hogwarts, and Dumbledore are not a foreign language. Being seven and in the UK during 2001 it was impossible not to be aware of the new film series that was about to conquer the world. So I, like many other seven year olds, read these much hyped books and waited patiently for the imminent release of the film. In the run up to the film I even tried the Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans when they were sold by Woolworths (not for £8 each like the Warner Bros. Studios).
But, unlike others my age, I was not a huge fan. Sure, I knew who the characters were, I knew the plot and I could recognise things that were from the Potter universe, but it was impossible not to if you were British. It’s one of those things that seems so iconically and quintessentially British, like the Queen, Big Ben or The Beatles, and it was the mania that defined a generation- my generation. So I always felt somewhat ashamed that I never got into Harry Potter. I read the first four books and watched the first three films, but I could never see the appeal of standing outside a bookshop at twelve o’clock midnight waiting for the newest book, or going to Midnight showings of the new film dressed as one of the characters (complete with pencilled on glasses and scar). PotterMania seemed like an elite club that I wasn’t really interested in joining- everything Potterheads did always seemed to be over the top. I received the fifth book for Christmas the year it came out, I read the first chapter that evening, and then put the book down and read no more. The book was so big and it had been a while since I had read the first four books that I just never got into it. I was no longer interested in it. By this time I was nine and I had discovered Bratz and Disney Channel.
I thought no more of it- I didn’t wait for the new books to be released, I didn’t go to see the films in the cinema, I didn’t buy into the cheap Harry Potter merchandise. The Hogwarts Express had departed and I’d stood at the station waving it off. It was not for me, I thought. The two books and two videos I did own sat on my shelf for years before I decided that somewhere there was a new Harry Potter fan who could read and love them more that I could, so off I sent them to the charity shop to be bought by a true Potterhead. Despite never reading or seeing the final instalments though, I still knew about Dumbledore’s Army, Horcruxes and the various characters deaths because it was impossible not to- when everyone around you is talking about it you listen whether you want to or not.
Now, the bandwagon has long since departed, faint imprints of its wheels left in the dirt. The books have ended, all the films have been released, the merchandise has trebled in price. A whole generation has had to accept the events in the final instalment, the end of their era, and the realisation that from now on Harry Potter will be spoken only as ‘remember when?’. The actors have grown up and are trying to shed their Potter personas and Rowling has (sort of) moved to pastures new. All is well.
I’ve never been early to a single thing in my life- I will be late to my own funeral- so true to form, I was late to the Potter party. Two years after the final Potter farewell my mum decided she wanted to go to the Studio Tour and I agreed. I thought I’d need to watch all the film before I went so I’d know what it was all about, so I dedicated a week to it and that was it. I was hooked. And by god, did I make up for lost time. I feel like I’ve had to cram in ten years of missed Potter-ing. And now I’ve done it ALL- the tour, the books, the films, booked for the theatre show (yep I was in the queue for three hours woop), the cheap merchandise. The only thing I’ve yet to do is get sorted into my house because I’m pretty sure I’m Slytherin and let’s be honest, being in the evil house is not exactly something to be proud of.
It’s been two years since I embraced Harry Potter and two years since my visit to the studio tour, and I’m going back- TODAY! (As this post goes live I’ll be sipping butterbeer and waltzing along Diagon Alley). So it seemed only right that this week’s recipe was Potter themed. Now pass me my wand and robes, I’ve got a train to catch.
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MAKES 12 bites
PREP 20 mins Make the wings a day in advance so they have time to set!
COOK TIME 15 mins
▪ Will keep in an airtight container for 4 days
150g softened butter
40g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
65g pecan nuts
200g plain flour
4tbsp icing sugar
Edible gold glitter
Royal icing (royal icing sugar mixed with water)
Gold lustre (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 180°c/350°f/Gas Mark 4. Line a large baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.
2 Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla together in a large bowl using a wooden spoon or electric whisk, until pale and fluffy.
3 Roughly chop the nuts, then add these, along with the flour, into the butter mix. Stir well until it forms a stiff dough.
4 Take about 1tbsp of the mixture and shape into a ball using your hands. Place onto the baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden in colour.
5 Whilst they are cooking, sieve the icing sugar and mix with the edible gold glitter. When the biscuits come out of the oven, leave them to cool for a few minutes then roll them in the sugar whilst they are still warm. Place onto a wire rack to cool.
To make the wings Mix royal icing sugar with a few drops of water to a stiff consistency. Pipe wing shapes onto a sheet of greaseproof paper, making sure they have quite a thick outline so they maintain their shape and won’t be so fragile that they break. If you are painting them with gold lustre dust, leave the wings for an hour to harden slightly, then mix the dust with some vanilla extract and use a paintbrush to paint the icing. Leave overnight to dry, then attach two wings to the base of the biscuits with some more royal icing.