200 Countries, 200 Desserts. A sweet journey…

Global Desserts: Mohr im Hemd from Austria

by editor on January 5, 2011

Mohr im Hemd from Austria

As a child I was a huge food nerd and obsessed with the iconic and rather ubiquitous Viennese dessert, SacherTorte. Maybe it was the impossibly smooth ganache coating and the impossibly clean slices it produced, or the part where the thin layer of apricot jam meets the soft underside of the chocolate and clings to the crumbs of the slightly dense cake? On reflection I loved the experience of eating in a grand location from a china plate as much as the cake itself. As an adult, I much prefer the boho (or aspiring boho) ambience of a coffee house in the Freihaus quarter to read, write and drink far too much coffee, and these little chocolate bundts called Mohr im Hemd, sticky, warm and a little rough hewn, replenish the blood sugar admirably during a strenuous afternoon of caffeine, Kafka and contemplation.

Mohr im Hemd is a baked chocolate nut dessert, somewhere between a soufflé and a cake and almost always served with a glossy pool of cognac-laced chocolate sauce and a generous cloud of unsweetened whipped cream. I’ve seen them made in rum baba/dariole molds, ramekins and mini bundt form, which is what I used. There are also much simpler Mohr im Hemd recipes than the Sacher version, but I decided to try it because I was intrigued by the use of breadcrumbs AND ladyfingers and the resulting texture. It definitely has more of a nut cake flavor and texture than a straight chocolate cake, and I do think this recipe really needs the liqueur to come alive.

Travel Note: If you’re visiting Vienna, the architecturally intriguing DO & CO hotel has arrestingly beautiful – and closeup – views of St Stephens Cathedral from its cone-shaped guestrooms.

Mohr im Hemd a la Sacher
Adapted from The New Sacher Cookbook | Serves 6

For the cakes
4oz / 100 g / 1/2 cup butter (melted for greasing)
3 tbsp granulated sugar (for dusting the molds)
2oz / 50g / ¼ cup bittersweet chocolate couverture
3 large egg yolks
1 fl oz / 30ml rum
1oz / 30 g / 1/8 cup confectioners sugar
3 large egg whites
1oz / 30g / 2 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
2oz / 50 g / 3/8 cup breadcrumbs
2oz / 50 g / 3/8 cup crumbled ladyfingers
2oz / 50 g / 1/4 cup hazelnuts or walnuts, roasted and grated
1 fl oz / 30ml / 2 tbsp milk

For the chocolate sauce
6 fl oz / 150 ml / ¾ cup milk
4 fl oz / 100 ml / 1/2 cup heavy cream
¾ oz / 20 g / 1/8 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla pod (cut open)
4oz / 100g / 2/3 cup dark chocolate
3oz / 80 g / ¾ stick butter
2 tsp / 10ml cognac
10 fl oz / 300 ml / 1 ¼ cups heavy cream (lightly-whipped, for decoration)

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

Brush 6 small souffle molds or a 6 cup mini bundt pan with melted butter and dust with sugar. Place pan or molds in refrigerator to chill (this prevents cakes from overflowing molds).

Melt chocolate and set aside to cool. Whisk egg yolks with rum and confectioners sugar until pale and fluffy. Pour in cooled melted chocolate and fold gently with a spatula to combine.

Whisk egg white, sugar and salt together until gentle peaks are formed (they do not need to be super stiff for this recipe). Carefully fold about 1/3 of the whipped whites into the chocolate mixture.

Mix together breadcrumbs, ladyfinger crumbs, nuts and milk until evenly soaked. Fold into chocolate mixture with remaining egg whites.

Fill molds ¾ full with chocolate mixture. Fill a roasting pan or deep baking tray with about 1 inch of water and place the molds in the water. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cakes spring back when prodded.

To make the chocolate sauce, place milk, cream, sugar and vanilla pod in a heavy bottomed pan. Stir gently over a medium heat until very hot but not boiling. Remove from heat. Remove vanilla pod and stir in chopped chocolate until completely melted. Whisk in butter until completely melted and mixture is glossy. Stir in cognac.

To serve, place individual cakes on plate and pour over a generous amount of chocolate sauce. Decorate with whipped cream and serve with strong coffee, a fresh notebook and your favorite pen.

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Global Desserts: Rupjmaizes Kartojums from Latvia

by editor on November 22, 2010

Latvian Dessert - Rupjmaizes Kartojums

The first snow of the nascent Seattle winter fell today, blown sideways by an eerie whistling gale, so it’s not surprising that many conversations are centered around beach vacations. Yet the research for this dessert leaves me longing to visit Latvia, more specifically to overwinter at the enchanting neo-Gothic Rumene Manor in the Latvian countryside. Of course my days would be filled with strenuous activities like reading by the fire, strolling around the snowy grounds and perusing the wine cellar before a lengthy dinner. So what would I eat?

Latvian food is hearty, starchy and influenced by the cuisines of Germany, Russia and Sweden (Aukstais Galds is a Latvian version of smorgasbord). Following suit, Latvian desserts are of the comfort food variety, and this layered cranberry pudding is both comforting and timely with the imminent arrival of Thanksgiving.

Rye bread (Rupjmaize) is a Latvian staple, and if you think a dessert made with this dark and distinctively flavored loaf sounds less than appetizing, remember how lifeless stale bread can blossom in a bread or summer pudding. The sharp, olivey taste of the rye bread mellows with the addition of cinnamon and sugar, and swirled together with the cream and cranberries the experience is reminiscent of a wintery cheesecake. You can also substitute loganberry jam or leftover cranberry sauce (7oz / 200g) to make this lovely, rich dessert.

For more on Latvian cuisine, see this fabulous cultural recipe book (links to pdf) from the Latvian Institute. Incidentally, Latvia has beautiful sandy beaches too…

Rupjmaizes Kartojums
Adapted from a recipe on the wonderful Russian and Eastern European food blog Russian Season.
Serves 4

For the cranberry sauce
½ cup / 100g sugar
½ cup / 125ml water + extra for thinning
2 cups / 8oz / 220g fresh cranberries (substitute frozen if necessary)
1/2 tsp orange zest

For the breadcrumbs
10oz / 300g dark rye bread, day old or toasted
6 tbsps light brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

For the cream mixture
1 cup / 240ml heavy cream
1/2 cup / 110g sour cream
3-4 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Special Equipment
Food processor (optional)
8×8 baking dish

First, make the cranberry sauce (skip this step if using prepared jam or sauce). Place sugar and water in medium pan and bring to a boil. Stir in cranberries, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 8-10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst. Stir in orange zest, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

To make breadcrumb mixture, coarsely chop bread in food processor – you want chunky crumbs, not dust. You can also use a hand grater to grate the bread into large crumbs. Place breadcrumbs, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large skillet and stir over a medium heat until sugar is dissolved and breadcrumbs are crunchy. Set aside to cool.

To make cream mixture, whip together heavy cream, sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble, first thin out the cranberry sauce or jam with a little warm water so a slightly runny consistency is reached. Place a third of the breadcrumb mixture in the bottom of baking dish. Top with half of the cream mixture and half of the cranberry sauce or jam. Repeat layers, finishing with a layer of the breadcrumb mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Alternatively assemble layers in individual glasses like a trifle)

Cut into rough squares and serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of leftover breadcrumbs.

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Global Desserts: Banh Chuoi Nuong from Vietnam

November 9, 2010

From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, walk through the street markets of Vietnam and the sizzling sweet, meaty and garlicky plumes emanating from food stands precipitate a seemingly endless hunger. If you leave enough room for dessert, you will find a huge variety of exotic fruits (Durian, Mangosteen, Green Dragon), colorful delicacies (Pandan Cake, Banh […]

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Global Desserts: Alfajores from Argentina

November 2, 2010

I didn’t intend to start the Global Dessert Challenge with something controversial, but when Argentina was randomly selected as the first country to visit, Alfajores were the first sweet treat that came to mind.  Alfajores (alfajor in the singular) are Arabic in origin, and can be found in the Middle East, the Andalucia region of […]

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Introducing the Global Dessert Challenge!

October 16, 2010

200 Countries, 200 Desserts. Join me on a sweet journey around the world! As a traveler and expat, I love experiencing the emotional, historic and cultural aspects of eating. A simple trip to the local bakery can teach you much about a city, region or country. People get excited and nostalgic when they describe the […]

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