So remember that office ice cream party I mentioned, where I took home a ton of rainbow sprinkles? Well, there were also chocolate sprinkles. And chopped walnuts. And rather than let perfectly good toppings go to waste, I decided to make something else out of them. I was trying to figure out what I could possibly do with brown, only vaguely chocolate-tasting sprinkles, when it struck me that brown sprinkles looked kind of like hedgehog fur. And an idea was born…
I’ve seen hedgehog cookies online before, usually made of shortbread dipped in chocolate and coated in ground nuts– very cute, but that would leave the sprinkles out of the mix. Instead, I decided to improvise and use the nuts in Mexican Wedding Cookies/Russian Teacakes, which are basically shortbread made with ground walnuts. I threw in a cupful of sprinkles too, just to use them up. Then, once the cookies were baked into their little hedgehog-y shapes, I dipped them in melted chocolate and then in a coating of sprinkles.
They turned out to be both delicious and adorable. Here’s how to make your own little cuties!
(makes 4 dozen, but you can halve the recipe if you don’t happen to have tons of sprinkles and nuts lying around)
2 cups butter, slightly softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups finely chopped walnuts (blitz them in the food processor so you get really small pieces)
1/3 cup chocolate sprinkles (optional)
8 oz chocolate for dipping (I used Trader Joe’s 72%)
More sprinkles for fur (you will need a LOT. Like, 3-4 cups)
1. Beat butter with vanilla and powdered sugar until light.
2. Add flour and salt and mix in at lowest speed until mostly combined.
3. Mix in walnuts and sprinkles until fully combined.
4. Chill dough for 30 minutes, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Roll dough into ping-pong ball sized balls (just under 2 level tablespoons), then press one side into a pointed shape for the nose.
6. Arrange dough balls on baking sheets about 2 inches apart and chill for 10-15 minutes.
7. Bake until lightly golden, about 20-25 minutes.
8. Once cookies are completely cool, melt chocolate in the microwave in 30-second bursts at 50% power, stirring between bursts of heat. Melting slowly is imperative to keep the chocolate liquid.
9. Dip back ends of the hedgehogs into melted chocolate, scraping off the excess so you just have a thin coating. Be gentle, or the noses of the hedgehogs will break off in your fingers. I’ve found the best way to do this is to get a spoonful of chocolate and turn the hedgehog over, dipping the rounded back into the bowl of the spoon and turning to coat. Then use the back of the spoon to spread the chocolate around, and scrape off extra chocolate with the edge of the spoon. Make sure your sprinkles are in a deep, narrow container so you get the best coverage and press the cookie in, chocolate-side down. Once fully coated, place on parchment paper or foil to set.
10. Once all cookies are dipped, let the remaining chocolate cool a little to thicken, then scrape it into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (I used a #4 but a #2 or #3 would be fine), and pipe faces on the hedgehogs.
Okay, I took a ton of pictures of these because they’re just so darned cute…
1. These cookies are tasty, but not all that sweet– the original recipe calls for them to be rolled twice in powdered sugar, which ups the sweetness factor, but for obvious reasons I didn’t do that. Instead I relied on the chocolate dipping to balance things out. If you prefer a sweeter cookie feel free to increase the sugar to 1 1/3 cups.
2. The texture of these cookies is sandy and delicate– if you want a slightly sturdier cookie (say, if you’ll be letting kids help you dip them and don’t want them to crumble) you can substitute 2/3 cup of granulated sugar for the powdered sugar.
3. In retrospect I think the sprinkles in the dough weren’t really necessary. They didn’t add much for flavor, and the dark sprinkles made for too much contrast in the hedgehog faces. Next time I’d leave them out.
4. You’ll need to make the noses on these pretty long and pointy (see pictures), otherwise the cookies will spread beyond recognition. You don’t want your hedgehogs to be too chubby-faced! Likewise, the chilling step once the hedgehog shapes are formed is pretty important, because otherwise you run the risk of your cookies flattening out too much. You want cute little rounded hedgehogs, not pancakes.
5. If you’re making these in really hot weather or will be leaving them out in the sun, consider using chocolate-flavored candy melts instead of real chocolate to dip. Candy melts have a higher melting temperature and will hold up better in heat.
6. These actually freeze wonderfully, so if you want to make a huge batch you can freeze the extra and break them out for snacks or for cute additions to desserts later on.
7. As a side note, next time I’m going to make these just a touch smaller, so they’ll be more bite-sized. As they are now they’re kind of big for a cookie, especially for something as rich as shortbread. A 1 1/4″ ball would be fine to use as the base size– if you do this, decrease baking time to 18-20 minutes.