Ornamental Separator

A Marzipan Hedgehog

Watch our historic foodways staff cook this recipe, then try it at home

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

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. 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!.

Learn More


Historic Foodways