To Make a Hedgehog

This type of creation was known as a ‘deceit’ in the 18th century because it was something you would not normally eat yet made from edible food material. Our fun Hedgehog adheres to that description.

18th Century

Take two pounds of blanched almonds, beat them well in a mortar, with a little canary and orange-flower water, to keep them from oiling. Make them into stiff paste, then beat in the yolks of twelve eggs, leave out five of the whites, put to it a pint of cream sweetened with sugar, put in a half pound of sweet butter melted, set it on a furnace or slow fire, and keep it constantly stirring, till it is stiff enough to be made in the form of a hedgehog, then stick it full of blanched almonds, slit and stuck up like the bristles of a hedgehog, then put it into a dish; take a pint of cream, and the yolks of four eggs beat up, sweetened with sugar to your palate. Stir them together over a slow fire till it is quite hot; then pour it round the hedgehog in a dish, and let it stand till it is cold, and serve it up. Or a rich calf’s-foot jelly made clear and good, poured into the dish round the hedgehog; when it is cold, it looks pretty, and makes a neat dish; or it looks pretty in the middle of a table for supper.

Hannah Glasse, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy“ 1796.

21st Century

N.B. This recipe is being posted for the sheer fun of making a Hedgehog rather than to make the almond dough. This recipe will make a marzipan-like mixture that can be molded and shaped into anything you please. If you wish to make the dough, follow the measurements in the original recipe above. For purposes of creating the Hedgehog we will use purchased marzipan that can be had at most grocery stores. When buying pinch the sides of the tube to see if it ‘gives’. This will tell you if it is malleable and can be shaped.

  • Two 7-oz. tubes of almond paste or marzipan
  • 8 oz. slivered blanched almonds (it will take more than you think!)
  • 2 large dried currants (or 2 whole cloves, for eyes)
  • ½ pint of cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 to 6 Tbsp. sugar (how sweet do you like it?)
  1. Cut open the marzipan tubes and take them out of the foil wrap.
  2. Take ¾ of the total amount of marzipan and combine them together working it like clay until it is blended into one ball.
  3. By squeezing and shaping make an elongated ‘body’ shape and place it on a nice plate.
  4. Take about half of the remaining marzipan and shape it with your fingers to resemble the head of the hedgehog and stick it on one end of the ‘body.’
  5. To make it look as though the head blends into the body, take little pieces of marzipan and stick between the head and body and smooth it with a small knife so it looks like the head and body are one. [See the video instructions.]
  6. Taking small pieces of marzipan, shape ears and attach to the head.
  7. With a knife make a slit for the mouth.
  8. Use the currants for eyes (or cloves).
  9. Starting from the neck and working backwards over the body, stick in the slivered almonds to look like the quills of the hedgehog.
  10. Once you’ve completed the hedgehog, take the cream, sugar and beaten egg yolks and put them together in a sauce pan. Whip together with a whisk.
  11. Over a medium heat keep stirring the cream mixture until it is somewhat thick. Pour it around the base of the hedgehog. N.B. If you want a change, add two or three drops of green food coloring to the cream as you mix it. It will look like your hedgehog is setting in grass!.

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6 Responses to “To Make a Hedgehog”

  1. January 13th, 2014

    Nicole says:

    I’m just wondering if this is meant to be eaten or just be a decoration. I know that it is edible, but would it typically be eaten at the meal as a desert?

    • January 15th, 2014

      Historic Foodways says:

      That’s a great question.
      Yes, the hedge hog was meant to be eaten. You would see this in a Gentry household, most likely as a dessert item. Unlike the modern world, you would not find something that took so much time and craftsmanship to create not meant to be eaten!

  2. December 10th, 2014

    Bobbi says:

    How would you recommend serving this?

  3. January 24th, 2015

    Mercy Hawkins says:

    I made one for our Twelfth Night celebration at the historic house where I work. He was too cute to cut up for the guest (no worries.. they had plenty of other 18th C foods to nibble on!), but as we were cleaning up, the staff cut him up into squares to nibble on. The pic is from when I had just finished up making him. He had a place of honor on a tall cake plate for the open house. I did not make the cream sauce for him to sit in since he was going to be out in the open for several hours.

  4. March 15th, 2015

    Malyson Haight says:

    I made this for our annual open fire period recipe cooking contest. It took about 90 minutes to get all those almond slivers arranged! But it was worth it–I won a prize! Also, very tasty, delicate almond flavor.

  5. February 10th, 2017

    Colonial Hamilton says:

    Do you have to bake this? I do not see baking, but is it neccesary?

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