Guest post written by Sarah Hart from Cooking by the Canal du Midi
As its almost Christmas and time for endless snacking, I thought I would share with you an easy treat that you can make at home in just a few minutes. Called Chouchous in French and Sticky Peanuts in my house, these are very difficult to stop eating and you may not thank me for telling you how to make them!
Chouchous are a common sight in Morocco, being sold from wooden carts on the street in little paper cones, cooked freshly by the vendor. The smell in the air of caramelised sugar is just wonderful and hard to walk past. I have spent a lot of time in Morocco and am so in love with everything about the place. Especially what there is to eat!
I remember many warm evenings walking through the medina streets so full of people, noise and food, eating chestnuts, doughnuts and fried fish from tiny stalls. It is such a vibrant country in colour, taste and smells. Food is fresh, simple and delicious with mint, cinnamon and orange blossom water being the scents that take me right back there. I bought a huge tagine (terracotta cooking dish) many years ago for about 1€. And I have carried it across house moves to several different countries – we even had tagine for our Christmas dinner last year. It is one of my most treasured possessions. The cost of transporting it so many times makes it very valuable now!
France has a long relationship with Morocco. This explains why Moroccan restaurants are one of the most common ‘foreign’ food establishments that one can find in France. And why I am using this as an excuse to share a Moroccan recipe rather than a French one. Anyway, let’s get down to the business of making Chouchous.
Cooking time: 20 minutes
300 peanuts with skins on
Put water and sugar into a heavy based frying pan and heat at a medium temperature until the sugar is just dissolved. Add the peanuts and stir. Cook this mixture for around 10 minutes until the liquid evaporates and you are left with a pale, sandy coating on the nuts.
Turn down the heat to very low and now it is time to be patient. Stir constantly and watch as the sugar changes in texture and colour, from gritty to silky and from grey to amber. After approximately another 10 minutes the nuts will be ready – it is important to make sure that the sugar does not darken to brown and burn. Be careful about tasting as you go along – the sugar is like lava and will burn.
When they are ready, tip onto a baking sheet lined with paper and wait to cool. Store in an airtight container if you have the resolve not to eat them all immediately.