The Sacher Torte
The Sacher Torte is a legendary Viennese treasure. This delicious chocolate treat, served at the Hotel Sacher, has been enjoyed, imitated and even served as the subject of much debate.
The Sachertorte is comprised of layers of chocolate cake and apricot jam encased in a rich dark chocolate icing and served with whipped cream. I wasn't going to bother with such a simple confection, but a friend in Vienna told me that it had blown her expectations away and so, one night after a ballet at the State Opera and some sausage from the famed sausage stand nearby, I made my way across the street to the Hotel Sacher to try it.
Oh my god.
Though the Sachertorte is normally served as a slice of cake, you can get a mini version -- I recommend this as it can't be good for you, but I have to say, I probably could have eaten not only a slice, but the entire cake. There is something magical about the flavor. I don't know what to tell you, other than that it is somehow transcendentally greater than the sum of its parts.
The recipe was originally created in 1832. From the Hotel Sacher:
"The all-mighty 'coachman of Europe', Wenzel Clemens Prince Metternich, ordered the creation of a particularly palatable dessert for spoiled high-ranking guests, 'take care that you do NOT make me look a fool tonight', he warned. That very day, however, the chef was ill in bed! The order was reassigned to a 16-year-old apprentice in his second year, the quick-witted chap Franz Sacher...
One thing was certain; the specialty which was finally presented to the masters and mistresses was a resounding success: a soft and fluffy chocolate cake with the tasty apricot jam under the icing. Franz certainly never forgot the great success of his ingenious idea within this exclusive circle. He spent his apprenticeship working for the Count of Esterhazy, first in Bratislava and then in Budapest. When, as a fully qualified cook, he started to work on his own account, he offered his successful composition once again, this time on a large scale. He was successful and soon the 'cake by this man named Sacher' was in great demand, and the victorious career of the probably most famous of all cakes began."
Not only did the cake become famous, but everyone wanted to steal the recipe. Soon, "Sachertorte" was offered in establishments all over Austria. Hotel Sacher finally put their foot down with the well-lauded Demel confectionery, who tried to claim the original recipe belonged to them. They went to court in the 1970s, and Hotel Sacher won -- Demel's cake is now known as the Demel Sacher Torte; a small, but significant difference.
My visit to Vienna was sponsored by the Vienna Tourist Board, but the opinions expressed in the article are 100% my own.