A treat from my childhood
background story, worth reading.
I’m a middle-of-the-summer child. Consequently, my birthdays have always been within the summer vacays – school, university, theatre – and all my friends were usually oot and aboot (whenever I write that phrase, there is a little Rose Tyler in my head mocking the Scottish accent in Tooth and Claw, NewWhoS2E2), travelling the world while I was stuck in real-life farmville. My brother’s birthday on the other hand is in November. Same day as Boris Becker, who once was less of a media person and more of a very passionate and successful tennis player and since my whole family played tennis (although less successful) that was such a neat thing to have in common. I share my birthday with Ginger Spice but I wasn’t (allowed to be) such a big fan of the Spice Girls so definitely felt a sting of jealousy that he got a childhood hero both my parents approved of and I didn’t. -Especially since it’s a rare thing they shared the same opinion on something! And yeah, his classmates sang a tone-deaf happy birthday on his special day and if he had ever pursued a career in managing an orchestra, I bet he’d gotten a professionally played symphonic rendition of the worldwide classic, too. Not for me. Spielzeitpause.
I don’t wanna complain [she said after complaining for a whole paragraph] – I had bbqs, camp fire and everything outdoor. My two long-time boyfriends had their birthdays #1 on the day after and #2 on the day after the day after my birthday. This way, we could celebrate together. Not the reason I picked them. But I guess I gotta follow the pattern. Handsome, nice, smart single men out there – if your birthday is on August 9th, you might be the lucky one, and next in line XoXo :-*
However, one major thing my brother got and I didn’t – we’re slowly approaching the recipe y’all waiting for – were chocolate hedgehogs, one of my Mum’s specialties. “They melt in the summer, it’s too hot, you can’t have them” she would say, and add: “But Per will share them when it’s his birthday” and of course, his birthday came and the chocolate hedgehogs looked so yummy and squeaked EATMEEATME and my brother, being a proper big brother ergo being mean to his little sister would be like “You gotta be nice to me all day, they are MINE and if you don’t do what I tell you you won’t get any.” Imagine grumpy cat even grumpier. That’s me just remembering this.
How the tables have turned – and our lives upside down, or rather, down under, where my brother lives now. And guess what – it’s too hot in November to make ornamented chocolate desserts! Hah!! Rache ist süß, and so are these tasty treats, oh sweet revenge, does it sting yet, big brother, does it?
Obviously, I made them, here, for his first birthday abroad. And sent him a picture and told him I was gonna eat’em all. And therefore, this recipe is dedicated to all little sisters out there who were ripped of a sweet treat simply because they were born in the wrong season….
Step 1 – Basic Stuff
Knead 160g plain flour, 60g white sugar, a pinch of salt, 100g butter to a smooth dough and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Roll out and cut out 12 hedgehog bases. I made a cardboard template, similar to a raindrop and appr. 9cm long and 7cm wide. Bake in the preheated oven (190°C) for about 10 minutes, then take them out and let them cool on a cookie rack.
Step 2 – Filling Part I
Crumble a (storebought) sponge cake base. Heat up 50g white sugar and 3tbsp water on the stove. Add 2cl Rum and pour the liquid over the crumbs. Mix and mingle and let it soak for at least 30 minutes.
Step 3 – Filling Part II
Whisk 3tbsp milk, 1 bag of cream pudding (not sure what exactly that is in English – the German is Sahnepudding but chocolate pudding should be fine, too. The chocolater, the better, as they say!) and 2 eggyolks. Boil 500ml milk with 150g sugar, add the pudding mixture, let it boil up again while stirring and then keep stirring till it has cooled down a little. Whisk 150g butter until frothy and add it spoon by spoon – or, as a very innocent Julia once thought was the correct verb, spoon it, which definitely means nothing else than transporting food with a spoon from A to B, A and B preferably being bowl and mouth. Pour the whole thing over the sponge cake crumb mixture, add some ground cinnamon and ginger and let it cool down completely.
Step 4 – Hedgehogging
This is a literal translation from the original recipe: place the filling on the hedgehog bases and carefully mold it into hedgehog shape. That’s all it says. Like, any advice on how to? My experience is that its best to put a tablespoon of filling onto each cookie and if there is any left, distribute equally. Take a teaspoon and mold it into a sorta smooth round shape with the back of the spoon.
Step 5 – Cover your traces and spike it up
Liquefy 350g dark bitter chocolate glazing in a water bath. Have 40g almond slivers ready. Now comes the tricky part. The glazing dries up incredibly quickly, so you gotta be incredibly fast in covering your hedgehog fillings and spiking it with almond slivers. If I were you, I would cover half a hedgehog and spike it and then do the other half because that stuff dries up sooooo quickly, it gets incredibly frustrating when the almond needle cracks up your chocolate glaze. Once you’re happy with the amount of hedgehog spines, transfer your little treats to a cool place where they will last several days. Theoretically. Usually, they don’t live that long for other reasons. Omnomnom.
Reviews from people I shared them with (not my brother, obviously): “I only wanted to have a bite but it was so tasty, I couldn’t help myself and ate it in one go” / “they are so ornate” / “they looked and tasted simply wonderful” Five Stars all around ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Happy Birthday 🎶 to my brother Down Under, a belated Happy Birthday 🎶 to me, and generally plenty of Oh Happy Days 🎶 to all of us.