This post is for the all those in the Mateyko clan and for my dear friends from the Notre Dame Innsbruck Program. I was thinking about you all when I made Sacher Torte last week. This traditional Austrian dessert features a chocolate cake that is split in half, brushed with warm apricot jam, then covered in a dark chocolate glaze. The cake is not too sweet and a bit dry, but when served "mit schlag" (with whipped cream), it is delicious.
Last Friday was International Night at Molly's new school. We were to bring a dish to share that reflected our heritage. My Grandpa O'Brien is obviously Irish; my beautiful Grandma was Slavic. Molly told me flat out that I was not allowed to make soda bread. She was concerned there would be too many Irish families bringing the same thing (my apologies to the O'Briens). We talked at length about other options and she asked about recipes from the Mateyko family. I remember my Grandma making stuffed cabbage but I knew that would not fly with the sweets-loving daughter. We both recalled Uncle John (Grandma's brother) telling us that their mother grew up outside of Vienna. She was not Austrian, but we decided to she lived close enough to that great pastry city for us to chose an Austrian dessert.
I have a second connection with the Sacher Torte. When I was in college, I spent my sophomore year in Innsbruck. It was a wonderful time, full of friendships and travel. There was some studying that went on as well, but we were thrilled to be located in the "heart of Europe" and took full advantage of the train system to see as many cities and countries as possible. During my freshman year, our German teacher, Professor Wimmer, did an outstanding job preparing us for our year abroad. He made sure that we could speak the language and knew enough about the culture to survive away from home. I clearly recall him telling us that we needed to splurge on dessert when in Vienna. He instructed us to go to the Sacher Hotel, and order piece of their famous cake and a cup of coffee. When I was researching recipes, I found one that suggested finding authentic ingredients for the cake. It recommended using Stroh Rum for the apricot glaze. I was happy to disregard this suggestion. Stroh Rum has a distinct flavor and comes in different strengths, including one that is 160 proof that to be used for cooking. I think we all had enough Stroh rum during that year college to last a lifetime. I used a bit of water to thin the glaze.
The Sacher Torte did take several hours to prepare, but it was quickly devoured on International Night. If any of the Mateykos have a family recipe to share from the old country, please let me know. Otherwise, next year's international night will feature a Linzer Tart!