In a country where coffeehouse culture has been part of everyday life since the 17th century, it is easy to see why Austrian coffee is famous. Though the drinks are what draw people into the countless cafes throughout the country, the desserts that accompany them deserve just as much attention. Here are some of the best desserts I have had in Austria, and my recommendation on where to get them:
If you are visiting Austria from the U.S., you might be surprised what you receive if you order the ice coffee – it’s not the typical American cold brew. You should be pleasantly surprised, though, as you will receive something much tastier. Since Eis in German translates to ice cream, an Eiskaffee is espresso poured over vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. The best Eiskaffee I had was at Café Central in Vienna (which is worth a visit regardless), but the rooftop café at the University of Salzburg also serves a delicious one.
This dessert is Hungarian in origin and can be traced back to the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It consists of buttercream and hazelnut meringue between layers of sponge cake, and its zig-zagged icing on top is a sure sign that you are looking at an Esterhazy. I had never tried anything like this cake before I came to Austria, and it became my favorite dessert after our class sampled it at the pastry seminar organized by AIFS. For the complete experience, try the Esterhazy at Konditorei Schatz, one of the oldest cafes in Salzburg.
Though technically not a coffeehouse dessert, this Austrian specialty is too good not to put on your dessert bucket list. Named after Kaiser Franz Josef I, the former emperor of the Austrian empire, Kaiserschmarren is basically a shredded, doughier version of a pancake topped with powdered sugar. It is typically served with fruits or nuts on top and sides of applesauce and/or plum sauce. Our class tried it at Oberhofalm, a traditional restaurant at the base of the Große Bischofsmütze mountain in Filzmoos, Austria, after our sleigh ride through the Alps. Kaiserschmarren is a great dessert to share with a group—or to keep to yourself!
A list of Austrian desserts would not be complete without the most famous chocolate cake in the world, Sacher Torte. The simple yet delicious dessert is Vienna’s most well-known culinary invention, so the best (and most expensive) place to try it at is the original Café Sacher in Austria’s capital.
Although this dessert is not served in coffeehouses and although gelato is not an Austrian invention, the Mozart flavor is one that Austrian can call its own. Based on the flavor of Salzburg’s famous Mozartkugel, or chocolate balls, this gelato is made with pistachio marzipan and dark chocolate and is the best way to end a summer day of sightseeing in Salzburg. It is not found at every gelato place in the city, though, so head to Icezeit for a definite chance of Mozart delicacy!