Because I am a curious sort regarding words, when Sharon Tyler Herbst says these cookies are medvědí tlapičvky I turn to the series of tubes that is the internet and ask around. First, translator sites. Which were disappointing. On the few that handle Czech to English translation, tlapičvky did not translate. Or it did, but my English vocabulary is so limited I have never encountered the word tlapičvky before, let alone the letter č.
Medvědí translates to bear, and according to Ms. Herbst, tlapičvky is paws. When I gave up on finding a literal translation, I googled the two together, and Google, in its infinite wisdom, suggested I might be looking for medvědí tlapky instead. And Google was correct. However, while a quick re-check of the translator sites confirmed that medvědí tlapky translates to bear paws and bear feet quite nicely and without fuss, it appears from some of the websites Google recommended that the Czechs use medvědí tlapky or medvědí tlapičky interchangeably when referring to bear paw cookies. But tlapičky (note the distinct lack of the letter v), according to the translators, is tenderloin in Czech. So I give up! Unless any of you have an explanation. Or a pronunciation.
Spiced with cinnamon and cloves, and rich with butter, cocoa and a cup of ground hazelnuts, these cookies hail from Czechoslovakia and they are nutty and yummy, whatever their name. According to Ms. Herbst, they are traditionally shaped like a bear’s paw, but not having a cookie cutter in that shape, she uses a teddy bear cutter. I used the same, plus a sheep and a moose (I was only able to make one good moose out of this dough as the skinny bits that came out of the moose cutter did not hold up well). When I could no longer roll out enough to fit one of the cookie cutters, I fashioned the scraps into one fierce-ish bear paw. The recipe makes a lot of dough, but the cookies are large (the paw is as big as the palm of my hand) and half an inch thick, so it goes quickly. For some tastier-looking cookies made by folks who clearly knew what they were doing better than I, check here: http://recepty.jiribures.cz/cukrovi/medvedi-tlapicky/. Mmm… Wonder what they are saying there?