When a country dedicates a holiday to a chocolate cake, it must be delicious. But in a country that claims to be the coffeehouse and cake capital of the world, such a cake must have divine inspiration. Invented in 1832 for Prince Wenzel, the Sachertorte of Hotel Sacher has reached legendary status in the confectionary world and enjoys December 5 as its own gluttonous holiday.
After a failed attempt to secure post-opera seats in the hotel’s lauded Rote Bar Restaurant during our Vienna adventure, we “settled” for afternoon sweets in its outdoor cafe where we enjoyed a pre-opera snack instead of house coffees (with orange liquor) and sachertorte. The torte’s recipe is a carefully-guarded secret, but seems to consist of a chocolate sponge cake topped by a layer of apricot jam and a hardened chocolate icing.
Though the official rights to the name “The Original Sachertorte” belong to Hotel Sacher, Vienna’s other top confectionary, Demel, also claims co-ownership of the recipe. Of course, we had to try Demel as well, and we were split on the cake-off winner. (Though it must be noted that the waitstaff at Hotel Sacher was much superior to that of Demel where unfriendliness was extreme thereby giving Hotel Sacher the edge.)
If you cannot get away to Vienna, you can try to bake your own Sachertorte by following this recipe from the BBC. Make sure to serve the finished cake with a dollop of unsweetened, homemade whipped cream.