If there’s one thing I remember about Christmas, it’s my mum and sister seated around our old wooden kitchen table making šape. Known as medvjeđe šape (bear paws) because of the traditional bear paw moulds they would be baked in, this is a truly traditional Croatian recipe. And an essential Christmas recipe.
And! If there’s one thing I love about St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) it’s sitting around at breakfast, eating šape with leftover turkey and black coffee! Taste sensation people!
These little biscuits keep for days, so making one batch a couple of days before Christmas will last atleast until St Johns (day after Boxing Day – depending on how many people are walking in and out of your house) and they are better when a touch drier, a day after they are baked. But you do need to have the moulds, which can be bought online, in Croatia or some cousin can lend you a bunch.
This is my mothers/sisters recipe, so enjoy!
- Three (3) cups plain flour
- 1/4 bag baking powder
- One (1) cup caster sugar
- Two (2) cups walnuts, ground
- 250grams unsalted butter
- One (1) egg
- One-two tablespoons linden honey, depending on taste
- One (1) teaspoon vanilla paste
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- Sift flour and baking powder and combine in a large mixing bowl with ground walnuts and sugar.
- Combine the wet ingredients – egg, honey, butter and vanilla and making a well in the centre of the dry ingredients add the wet ingredients.
- Use your hands to combine and knead form a dough. Leave for 20 minutes in a cool spot.
- Pre-heat the oven (fan-forced) to 180 degrees C.
- Meanwhile, prepare all your moulds by wiping the insides with a dry tea towel, clearing out any dust. Laying them all flat with the moulds facing up, spray the insides with canola oil and dust with plain flour. Take each mould and swirl it around to cover with as much flour as possible and then tap excess flour out. If you don’t do this you’ll get lumps of flour on the top of the biscuits so get that excess flour out!
- Once the dough is ready, take a small amount, roll into a ball (or rounded rectangle, depending on the shape of the mould) and press the ball gently into the mould. DO NOT fill the mould to the top, as the baking powder will make the dough rise and you won’t be able to get it out. So fill half way to be on the safe side.
- Put the moulds into a baking dish, preferably one with four sides rather than a baking sheet, as these metal moulds will just fly right out! Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them because as soon as they colour, it’s pretty much time to take them out.
- Take the paws out of the moulds while still hot, using a tea towel and slightly pressing the moulds with a set of tongs to loosen the biscuit.
- Some recipes say to toss them in icing sugar, but being a non-sweet tooth I prefer a slight dusting. If someone wants more icing sugar they can add it themselves.
Let me know if you tried these Croatian teddy bear treats and what you thought?
Dobar Tek! Zivjeli! (Bon Appetit! Cheers and let’s live!)