No festive Croatian table would be complete without these wonderful little cookies. Soft, crumbly and liberally dusted with powdered sugar, the name translates to “paws” because of the tin that’s traditionally used to mould them. Šape.
Why don’t mine look like paws? I don’t have the tins – just some regular old fluted ones that have been in my possession for many years.
I asked my mother for the recipe as I knew she had one given to her by her mother, but in typical fashion, I’ve added my own little touch here and there.
I understand the traditional šape don’t contain aromats like lemon and vanilla – just plain old sugar and the flavour of walnuts.
That’s all great, but I couldn’t help myself by adding lemon and vanilla – things that many people add to them – plus a herb that features quite a bit in savoury Croat dishes.
Getting heavy-handed with this herb in a sweet dish can send it straight into soapy territory – much like lavender – but in small amounts it brings a certain something. Personally I reckon that vanilla, lemon zest and rosemary have the most evocative combined scent, providing the balance is right.
My addition of rosemary could cause my mother to raise her eyebrows and my baka to turn in her grave, but I bet they’d be reaching for another one of my šape if they had the chance.