Specific Examples

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Anthropomorphic sweets rely on the specific requirements for each type of dough. Some malleable consistencies allow for realistic pieces like orejas de fraile (friar’s ears)—thin, fragile ear shapes. Others, like the brazo de gitano/reina/venus (gypsy’s/queen’s/Venus’s arm), have many layers: the skin, flesh, and blood. Some have protruding parts, such as tetas de novicia (novice’s tits), which are airy with brown meringue on top, or barrigas de fraile (friar’s bellies).

Zoomorphic sweets, on the other hand, require a certain intentionality to produce recognizable figures, whether flat or three-dimensional, like marzipan figures and monas de Pascua (Easter figures) in the shape of swans, dragons, bears, crocodiles, or camels. The monas are made from chocolate in Cataluña. Three-dimensional cakes in the shape of lambs are popular at Easter time in a number of countries across Central Europe; they are baked in special two-part molds. Other types of dough are hand-shaped into two-dimensional figures, traditionally in the shape of snails, oysters, mussels, clams, anchovies, shrimps, crayfish, seahorses, insects, worms, doves, chickens, and swans. Cookie dough has long been popular for making two-dimensional figures, whether imprinted with molds, such as springerle, or formed with cookie cutters, such as gingerbread men. See cookie cutters and cookie molds and stamps. Boiled sugar sweets on sticks, mainly in the shape of roosters but also other animals, have been handmade in Turkey since the sixteenth century. They are often hollow and can be blown as whistles. These confections may have inspired the German roter Zuckerhase (red sugar hares), three-dimensional, bright red rabbit sugar figurines that represent the triumph of life and love at Easter. The many industrially produced sweets made from gelling agents, such as Gummi Bears, are more recent iterations of zoomorphic forms. See gummies and haribo.