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Sachertorte, Café Crawls and other delights of Vienna

Austria Coffee & Cafes Food and Drink Vienna

June 27, 2012 by Mtaussig

In 1832, Prince Wenzel von Metternich charged his personal chef with creating a dessert for a dinner for several distinguished guests.  The chef pawned the job off on his 16 year old assistant, Franz Sacher…and the Sachertorte was born.  Now, the Sachertorte could credibly make the claim to being the most famous chocolate cake in the world.

The cake consists of two layers of dense, not overly sweet chocolate cake (traditionally a sponge cake) with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and dark chocolate icing on the top and sides. It is traditionally served with whipped cream without any sugar in it, as most Viennese consider the Sachertorte too “dry” to be eaten on its own. It became so popular that there was a long and famous legal battle between two august cafés in Vienna — Hotel Sacher, and Café Demel (where Sacher and his son worked) — over who had legal rights to claim that they served the “original” Sachertorte.

When you visit Vienna, reviews, (and one’s own inclination) definitely require you try both the Hotel Sacher & Café Demel versions!  Each establisment continuse to be among the most praised classic cafés of Vienna.  UNESCO has listed the Austrian capital’s coffee houses as an intangible heritage — one that is to be preserved and protected. These coffee houses are often called public living rooms. People come here to chat with friends, read newspapers and eat cake and pastries.

If you can’t get to Vienna soon, here’s an Epicurious recipe to try your own hand


  • 4 1/2 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spoon gently into cup and level top)

But why not do it up right, and let the masters of Sachertorte duel for your custom?  You’ve heard of pub crawls?  Come to Vienna on an Austrian Untour  and do a café crawl!  There are so many amazing ones, you can indulge every day at a different café.  And each one will be a “intangible cultural heritage” and super yummy!  Here’s  a map (right) to get you started on your Vienna Cafe Crawl.