These charming chocolate and rum buttercream creatures, each with its own personality, are known as Igels in Austria. They captured my heart in Belgium and Germany, and I know you’ll love them, too. Include them on an assorted miniature tray for a touch of delicious whimsy.–Flo Braker
LC Creatures Note
Uh, these little creatures—a cookie, actually—are most definitely hedgehogs, although with a little imagination and tweaking this recipe could easily make all manner of cookie creatures. Aliens, anyone?
Chocolate and Buttercream Cookie
- Quick Glance
- 1 H, 45 M
- 6 H
- Makes 4 dozen
Special Equipment: 14-inch pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain decorating tip (such as Ateco #6)
- For the dough
- 1 3/4 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup unsifted cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- 1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- For the rum silk buttercream filling
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- For the dark chocolate satin glaze decoration
- 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
- For the royal icing
- 1 cup unsifted confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons (1 large) egg white
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Make the dough
- 1. In a medium bowl, briefly blend the flour, cocoa powder and rice flour with a wire whisk. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the sugar on medium speed until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Lower the speed and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until thoroughly combined.
- 2. Divide the dough in half. Roll 1 portion at a time between 2 sheets of waxed paper to form a circle 10 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Leave the dough between the sheets of waxed paper and transfer the circles to a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. (You can refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days or wrap it tightly and freeze it for up to 1 month.)
- 3. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and adjust the oven rack to the lower third of oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 4. Remove 1 dough circle at a time from the refrigerator. Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper, replace it loosely, and flip the entire package over. Peel off and discard the second sheet of waxed paper.
- 5. Pinch the wide end of a 1/2-inch plain decorating tip (such as Ateco #6) into an oval to make an oval cutter. Using the cutter, cut out oval shapes in the dough, and space them 1/2 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake the shapes, 1 sheet at a time, for 10 to 13 minutes, or until the cookies appear dull brown and feel slightly firm. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack until the cookies are completely cool. (You can stack the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.)
- Make the filling
- 6. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, whip the egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Remove the bowl from mixer stand. In a 1-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the water and sugar over low heat. Stir occasionally, washing down any sugar crystals clinging to the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water, until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 238°F (114°C) on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, place the yolks in a bowl. Pour the syrup into the center of the yolks and whisk quickly and vigorously until combined. Return the bowl to the mixer and beat on medium speed until the egg yolk mixture thickens and cools to body temperature, about 5 minutes. Maintaining medium speed, gradually add the butter to the cooled egg yolk mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue mixing until all the butter has been incorporated and the buttercream is smooth and homogeneous. Add the rum and whip until thoroughly combined.
- 7. Place the cookies close together on 1 baking sheet. Using a 14-inch pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain decorating tip (such as Ateco #6), pipe an oval bulb of buttercream on each cookie. Hold a cookie in one hand as you pipe with the other. Then arrange 8 pine nuts in each buttercream oval as shown in the photo. Refrigerate until the buttercream is firm, at least 2 hours.
- Make the glaze
- 8. Combine the shortening and chocolate in a 3-quart heatproof bowl. Place it over a saucepan filled with enough hot tap water (120 to 130°F/49 to 55°C) to reach the bottom of the bowl. Stir the mixture occasionally until the glaze is liquid and smooth and registers close to 110°F (43°F) on a candy thermometer. If the water begins to cool while melting the chocolate, maintain the 120°F (49°C) temperature over very low heat.
- 9. Place the chilled hedgehogs an inch apart on 2 wire racks placed over shallow baking pans to catch drips. Ladle about 2 tablespoons glaze over each hedgehog, to cover it completely. After masking the pastries, gently move each one slightly on the rack with a small metal spatula while the glaze is liquid, to remove chocolate drippings from its underside. This also keeps the pastries from sticking to the rack. If more glaze is needed, pour the glaze from the baking pans back into the saucepan and reheat. Pour the glaze through a sieve in case any cookie crumbs fell into it. The warm glaze sets up quickly after touching the cold, firm buttercream, leaving a gorgeous sheen. Do not refrigerate the pastries after they have been glazed.
- Make the royal icing
- 10. When the glaze has set, mix the royal icing ingredients together in a 1 1/2-quart bowl. With a hand mixer on medium speed, whip until the mixture is thick and has a marshmallow-like consistency, about 5 minutes. Fill a small handmade paper cone with 2 tablespoons icing and pipe 3 tiny dots on each hedgehog. Or make a small pastry bag by placing the icing in a resealable plastic food bag. Cut a very small tip off 1 corner and pipe 3 tiny dots on each hedgehog. Then, dip a toothpick into some of the remaining liquid chocolate glaze and place a dot of it on 2 of the icing dots, forming the hedgehog’s eyes. Now their true personalities will be evident.
- 11. Gently lift each pastry with a small metal spatula, and arrange in a single layer in a foil-lined cardboard container, such as a cake box. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.
- For an easier—and less expensive—way to decorate these hedgehogs, omit the pine nuts. Coat the hedgehogs with the chocolate glaze and, before it sets, apply chocolate sprinkles over 2/3 of each pastry. Pipe “eyes” on the uncovered portion with the royal icing.
Recipe Testers Reviews
These cute chocolates are a real conversation piece. The recipe for dough gives a higher yield than stated: I halved the recipe, and expected to get 24 biscuits, each 1 1/2 inches long, but ended up with 48. The buttercream and chocolate glaze amounts are correct for the stated yield. The extra biscuits came in handy—I used pine nuts to make quills for some of the chocolates, and I coated the rest of them with crumbled biscuits.
To make things easier, I made the hedgehogs over two nights. On the first night, I made the biscuit dough and buttercream. I also baked the biscuits that night (they took 10 minutes) so all I had left to do was the assembling, glazing, and decorating. The buttercream was fine in the fridge, covered, for two days. I slightly warmed it back to room temperature before piping onto the biscuits.
The recipe insists that the chocolates should be kept at room temperature, but I much prefer the texture of the buttercream filling when cold. At room temperature, it’s extremely soft and gives a less pleasant mouthfeel. The buttercream’s flavour is lovely, with the right amount of rum to be apparent but not overpower the chocolate. I think it’s worth losing the shine of the glaze to gain a firmer filling to the chocolates. The biscuit base is also very light and crisp, a nice contrast to the smooth buttercream. They can also be made into other animals with a little imagination. I made some little pigs, with chocolate-chip noses and ears made of heart-shaped sprinkles. All in all, these are a lovely addition to a party table. They’re worth the extra effort.