For years I've been making “medvjeđe šape” for the Christmas holidays (Bozic in the Serbo Croatian language). Sometimes I also make them on other holiday occasions in the winter. The recipe I have from my grandmother is the following:
2 c Nuts, 2 c Crisco or Butter, 3 c Flour (you might need to add a bit more), 1 c Sugar, 2 eggs and 1/8 tsp Baking Powder. Mix, put in special tins, bake at 375 till brown (10-15) Take out of tins while still hot and dip in powdered sugar
My Baka used Crisco, which in later years, finding my own way through the kitchen, I always found odd. Once I did a bit of investigating I figured it out.
When the sisters married the Americans, they brought Crisco home along with the Folgers and the Smirnoff. Baka used to call the 'mast' (fat) she used in the cookies 'kokos fett'. My life long I could never figure out what she used- what could 'kokos fett' actually be? Sounded like coconut (kokos in Pidgin Bosnian/German) but I never remember seeing any coconut butter or coconut oil in the kitchen.
The big mystery was solved when exploring the possibilities with my mother as to what type of fat she might have used, I remembered that it was preternaturally white.
That's how we figured out it must have been Crisco.
Last year I made them half with Crisco and half with Butter. Crisco was easy to work with, but the taste was definitely compromised. It still tasted good - but that weird aftertaste of Crisco was really strong. So, I prefer to use Butter. I am going to assume that Baka used Crisco because my mom brought home a new, cool, American food that no one had ever seen before.In that little Alpine kaf, we were definitely the glamorous and Bohemian off Broadway set. In the day Crisco was probably pure awesomeness.