The first time I ever saw a hedgehog in the wild, I was riding home from a party at 2am with my cousin on a small road in Germany. We were tooling along, and suddenly he slowed, “Look, an Igel” and there, scampering along to road, a spiny little Hedgehog! I think I may have squealed. So, my dear cousin stopped the car so that I could follow it. Needless to say, I came nowhere near to catching it (and honestly, had no plan for what to do if I HAD caught it). Coming from California, hedgehogs exist only in children’s stories or nature videos… but I’ve always been enamored by those adorable little creatures. Seeing it was a storybook come to life!
This week I thought it might be fun to bake some Hedgehog Cookies or Igel Plätzchen. While the cookies bake up easily, CLEARLY, I need help in the decorating department (some kind of look like drunk zombie hedgehogs….) . Still, these sweet cookies look enough like a hedgehog to delight kids (and those who are young at heart). And they are perfect for any Groundhog Day celebration.
German Hedgehog Cookie Recipe
The basic Hedgehog Cookie Recipe is straightforward (flour, sugar, butter, egg), it just takes a little extra time for chilling. If you hurry the chilling, you’ll end up with flat hedgehogs because the butter will just melt. Chill the dough before you shape it (at least 30 minutes). Chill the shaped dough (make room in the refrigerator for your cookie sheets!). Then all you have to do is bake and decorate. Hopefully you have a steadier hand than I do!
If you have young children in your world, they can help decorate the cookies! (Maybe shape and bake them in advance so that they don’t have to wait for the cookies to cool before getting started). My kids always loved “helping”, and I encouraged it because I figured that getting them excited about cooking and baking meant they could do it later on their own. Remember, messes can be cleaned up (and kids can help with that too).
The body of the Hedgehog gets a coat of chocolate. You can dip or paint it on with a pastry brush. Ideally, you want to use couverture… but that tends to be expensive. Melting chocolate chips doesn’t work super well, because the chocolate gets stiff. What to do? I found that mixing semi-sweet chocolate chips and white chocolate gives the smoothness you need with a good flavor. (Almond Bark or Chocolate flavored Melts … like the ones you use for cake pops… can work as well. The flavor of those tends to be sweeter though).
I chose to use shredded coconut for the spines. If you don’t care for coconut, or want to mix things up, Chocolate Sprinkles or finely chopped nuts will work just as well. (You can even use rainbow sprinkles, and let the kids pretend the Hedgehogs all joined the circus… up to you).
Use a fine tipped piping bag filled with a bit of melted chocolate for the eyes and nose. Don’t have one? Go ahead and use a plastic baggie with the corner nicked off. (They will end up looking a bit less “refined”, but still recognizable as eyes and nose).
Ok… all ready to give it a try?
German Hedgehog Cookie Recipe
- 1 cup Butter
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 2 cups Flour
- 1 Egg
- 1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1/4 cup White Chocolate
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
- Alternatively use Chocolate Sprinkles or Chopped Nuts
- In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, flour, and egg. Beat until you get a smooth dough.
- Wrap dough, or cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove dough from refrigerator.
- Form small balls of dough, and place on the parchment paper.
- I use a small scoop to make sure the balls are all the same size.
- Then go back and pinch the dough ball a bit to give the hedgehog a nose.
- Repeat to fill the cookie sheets
- Put the shaped dough back in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (or overnight)
- You can't skip this step, or the dough hedgehogs will melt into a puddle in the oven. (You can put all of the hedgehogs together on one sheet for the refrigerator part to save space.)
- Bake at 350 for 14 to 18 minutes depending on size. They should be browned at the bottom, and edges may just be starting to brown.
- Remove from oven
- Transfer the cookies on their parchment to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before decorating.
- Melt Chocolates over a double boiler or in the microwave. Be careful not to let any water get into it, or it will seize up. Stir until smooth.
- Put a few Tablespoons of the melted chocolate in a small squeeze bag or ziplock baggie. This will be used to make the eyes and nose.
- Put the coconut in a small bowl near the workspace.
- One cookie at a time-
- Holding the hedgehog's nose, dip the top of the body into the chocolate. OR with a pastry brush, brush the "body" of the hedgehogs with an even layer of chocolate.
- Then dip or sprinkle the freshly chocolated hedgehog with coconut (or sprinkles)
- Set aside on parchment.
- Repeat with all hedgehogs.
- Cut a tiny corner off of the plastic bag, and carefully pipe two eyes on the hedgehog, then give him a nose on the tip of the cookie.
- (This requires a semi-steady hand, there may be a drip or a point to the chocolate... don't panic! You can sort of fix it when the chocolate sets. Using your finger or a knife, you can pretty it up)
- Let the chocolate set.
Place a layer in a container, top with waxed paper before adding the next layer to prevent the chocolate from smearing.
Hedgehog Cookie Recipe Step by Step
Make a Ball from the chilled dough.. about the size of a walnut.
You can make them larger, they just have to bake longer.
Pinch the “nose” to shape it.
Hold the nose to dip the top of the hedgehog body into the melted chocolate.
Then Dip into the Coconut
Looks like this…shake off excess if you like
Pipe on the eyes and nose
(Here is where I want to point out that my decorating skills are lacking… unless I WANTED Drunk Zombie Hedgehogs, in which case, I’m spot on.)
The excess drips and bumps from the piping can be “repaired” after it sets. Mostly…
Turns out that kids don’t care, in fact, they love to help make them! Hand over the decorating to the little ones in your world!
See, you can hardly tell them apart!