Šape…or…Bear Paws shortbread cookies

Šape are one of the most loved, traditional Bosnian treats. When translated to English, šapa (sing.) simply means a “paw”. The old tins were shaped like bear paws, hence the name. I remember playing with my grandmother’s šape tins when I was a little girl. They had that gray and brownish patina from years of use and I wish I had somehow saved them…Today the tins come in all different shapes and can be purchased here. A madeleine tin can also be used to make šape.

Bear paws are made from simple ingredients, readily available in every household. Biting into a šapa can instantly take me back to my grandmother’s little kitchen, with wooden floors, green credenza and an old tin box she kept them in. Šape are made for birthdays, feasts, weddings, christenings, Christmas and almost every other special occasion. They are sort of a shortbread cookie, originally made with lard, but are just as good made with butter. Traditionally, walnuts are used in the cookie, but I’ve seen them made with shredded coconut, poppy seeds or spiced with cinnamon. The crumbly dough is pressed into tin forms, placed onto a cookie sheet, baked and tossed in powdered sugar. They simply melt in your mouth!

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Šape or Bear Paws

[print recipe]

Yields about 30-35 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 120 g /4.2 oz lard (or 140 g /4.9 oz butter)
  • 120 g / 4.2 oz sugar
  • 1 vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 120 g / 4.2 oz ground walnuts
  • 300 g / 10.5 oz / 2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 13 g / about 1 tsp baking powder
  • A few tsp of milk (if needed)
  • 1 – 2  tbsp honey (optional)

+

  • Powdered sugar
  • Baking tins
  • Butter (melted) to brush the tins

Preparation:

  1. Beat lard (or butter), sugar and vanilla for about 3-4 minutes, then add egg and lemon zest and mix for couple of more minutes.
  2. Add ground walnuts.
  3. Combine flour and baking powder; add to the lard mixture.
  4. The dough will be crumbly. If too dry, add a tbsp or two milk
  5. Brush the tins with melted butter, fill them about 2/3 with dough.
  6. Place the tins on a cookie sheet and bake at 180 C / 355 F for about 15 minutes or until golden-brown color.
  7. Let them cool down for a minute or two, remove from tins and liberally dust with powdered sugar.

Enjoy with a cup of coffee, tea or dip in milk! 🙂

Sape preparation

Šape forms

Šape

Šape

Šape

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29 thoughts on “Šape…or…Bear Paws shortbread cookies

  1. Thanks Korena! I am glad to share my little food stories from the times when everything was just a bit better and more genuine (or I like to think so). These tins I also used to make tarteletts with cream cheese filling and fresh berries. I wish I had my grandma’s old tins tough, I wish I wrote down every story and every single recipe she told me about… When you’re young you don’t think about these things I guess 🙂

  2. Sibella, I really like the recipe ingredients… walnuts, honey, lemon zest… yummy. These šape tins are so cute with all different shapes. Delicious and nostalgic post of childhood memories. 😀

  3. Oh these are so beautiful!
    And like you – I wish I had some of the old tins from days gone by – the ones with the patina of wear on them. Why was it that once we all thought it was a good idea to give the old baking tins away and buy shiny new ones?! Live and learn!

  4. Hi Sibella, the small tins are so adorable, makes the shortbread cookies look really cute. I’m sure they are delicious as well! Thanks for sharing with us the history of these treats!

      1. Hi Sibella, yea I haven’t been able to keep up with everyone’s posts, I’m already struggling to try to post regularly. Thank you for your love! I hope you are doing well too, sending many love back to you, take care!

  5. Thank u, I lost my nan 3 months a go and I rely wanted to make them but I did not no how… And now I do. U have so manny thing that my nan mad on this site thank u. My nan even had the same tins.

  6. Hi Sibella, Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. My mom passed away three years ago and she used to bake these for all special occasions. I have her metal tins but could not find her recipe. Your recipe looks like it’s the one, thank you!

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