7.25.2015

A Faux Finish


Are you thinking ragged or sponged walls? Grain-painted doors?

I'm not. I'm talking about fake desserts.

What is a faked dessert? One example is my first attempt at making Mozartkugeln - or Mozart Candies - at home for Mark's birthday last December.

I made these confections seven months ago in anticipation of the trip we just took a few weeks ago, that included four days in Salzburg, Austria.

I have been nibbling Mozartkugeln since I was 14 years old; I bought them at a café in Salzburg while visiting Europe for a month with my two best friends. (Seriously, what were our parents thinking letting three teenagers go abroad on their own?)

I didn't have them again until 1980 - the summer I played in the Heidelberg Castle Festival orchestra. Once I returned from that trip, I sought them everywhere I could find them in the States - precious few places back then.

Markipedia had his first Mozartkugeln with his cousin Cathy about four years later. She had just returned from a trip to Salzburg, and brought him a box of the candies. She told him they were traditionally eaten after the opera, served with champagne. So the gift box was opened, and they nibbled and sipped champagne that late summer afternoon, while sitting on the lawn, soaking in the receding warmth of the season.

His birthday, no longer celebrated in frigid climes, seemed the perfect opportunity to make these and bring back that lovely memory. I, too, served them with champagne after dinner.

He was tickled that I had made them at home, and said they were even better than the real ones. (He is so nice!) 

By coincidence, neighbors Jeff and Lauran had just returned from Salzburg where they had visited the factory. They brought us the real thing. An echt Mozartkugeln.

Truth be told, the ones I made are only vaguely like the real thing - I am definitely missing a layer or two of complexity. But, like many of the available knock-offs, they were still really good.

As it turns out, even the ones I have seen here in the States may be knock-offs, according to lawsuits in Austria that have have dragged on with Dickensian complexity.


Café Konditerei Fürst, at Brodgaße 13 in Salzburg, claims that they were the originators (in the silver and blue wrappers). While no one has ever decided for sure, we went with the story and visited the mother ship. We had a candy, natürlich, but also sat outdoors in their café and enjoyed a cup of their wonderful hot chocolate and a slice of apfelstrudel.

Whether "Fauxart or Mozart," my version of these candies is fun to make (once you get used to tempering chocolate, it is easy!), and they are very special to serve, with or without champagne.

Haben Sie einen süßen Tag!

~ David

Mozartkugeln - or - Fauxartkugeln

2 ounces pistachio paste
6 ounces almond paste
7 ounces best quality dark chocolate, about 70% cacao

Notes: pistachio paste can be ordered online. Almond paste is readily available in most grocery stores. I tend to use artisanal chocolate from my friends at Byrne & Carlson but, if using commercial chocolate, Valhrona is my favorite. Your results will be much better, by far, if you make your own nut pastes!

Divide the pistachio paste into 12 equal pieces, rolling each into a ball. (I made my own pistachio paste by processing unsalted pistachios and a teaspoon of egg white.) Set aside.

Slice or mold the almond paste into 12 even discs, each about 1/2 ounce. 

Place a pistachio ball in the center of each almond paste slice, then stretch to wrap the almond paste evenly around the pistachio balls, then roll into balls. When all are done, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Temper your chocolate - this is a very important step for success! (Instructions are below.) Place a piece of waxed paper on a baking sheet.

Using a couple of forks and working quickly, dip each chilled ball into the tempered chocolate until it is completely covered. Remove from the chocolate, allowing any excess to drip off, and place carefully on the waxed paper. Let harden. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Wearing unscented rubber gloves, pick up each chocolate and trim the bottoms to make them more round. Wrap in aluminum foil - NOT heavy duty! - and return to the refrigerator. I made little round labels with Mozart's portrait to make them look more authentic, but this was definitely gilding the lily!

Enjoy with (or without) a glass of champagne.

Makes 12.

Tempering Chocolate

When tempering chocolate, make sure it isn't a humid day!

Fill the lower half of a double boiler with water and bring it up to a simmer. Turn off the heat. (if you don't have a double boiler, use a bowl - one that has a wide, flat bottom – over a pan of water. When the bowl is inserted, it should be touching the water.

Add the chocolate to the top of the double boiler, making sure the inside of the bowl is very dry, as any drops of water will seize up the chocolate. Place 2/3 of your chocolate in the top and place it over the water, being careful not to splash any water into the chocolate. Let the chocolate sit in bowl over the hot water, uncovered and unstirred, until it is about 2/3 melted. Once it has reached this point, stir until completely melted using a silicone spatula.

Test the temperature of the chocolate by touching a drop of the chocolate from the spatula onto the skin just below your lower lip. It should sting slightly. (if you sport a jaunty soul patch, you should be making begnets instead).

Remove the bowl from the water and set it on a folded kitchen towel to absorb any water from the bottom of the bowl. Stir in the remaining chocolate slowly and gently until completely melted. The chocolate will begin to thicken and become less shiny and more matte as it cools. This can take up to 30 minutes.

Once all the additional chocolate has melted, touch the spatula to your lower lip area again. The chocolate should feel cooler than your body temperature. If you don’t feel anything, this means the chocolate is just at body temperature, and you need to keep stirring gently until it cools down. When it is ready it will feel refreshing on your skin. You are now ready to dip your almond balls.

Work quickly and continue to stir the chocolate as you dip. If the chocolate cools too much, it turns completely matte and begins to thicken; place the bottom of the bowl back into the hot water for a few seconds. Remove quickly and stir the warmer chocolate up from the bottom and throughout the bowl. Test to be sure it has not gotten too hot, and resume dipping.



36 comments:

  1. Mozart Candies are absolutely delicious. Never disappointed me and I had them several times. Now they're everywhere, their marketing guys finally realized Mozart is well-known worldwide. Never tried to make something similar but I think it worth a try.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Cindy! It is interesting to me that there are so many different versions, all of which taste good to me - even my own!What could possibly be bad about nut pastes dipped in chocolate?

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  2. I spent 2 awesome days in Vienna and drove through Austria for a roadtrip to Croatia. I missed these famous confections because I thought perhaps they were over-rated. Color me wrong as I am now reading a wonderful book (called The Little Book) set in Austria and it's made me mad for anything Viennese. GREG

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    1. Here is your chance, Greg - you can make them yourself! Thanks for the tip on The Little Book - I will have to get it!

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  3. This is so funny - my bf and I just went to CA to visit my mom and out came the album of my birth in Vienna, and my mom had saved a wrapper of one of these candies. and here is the recipe!!! They look just wonderful - with all my favorite elements.

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    1. What a wonderful memory, Ahu! I had completely forgotten that you were born in Vienna.

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  4. the sweet and delicious prank thou...
    Dedy@Dentist Chef

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  5. Just three ingredients? Sounds like a winner, to me. I remember seeing these all over Salzburg when we were there in 2002. Stupidly I never tried them!

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    1. They do seem a bit touristy these days, John - I wonder if I would have given them a second glance if I hadn't fallen for them when I was a teen.

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  6. They look great David! I don't mind fakes :) I have never tried them but now I'm intrigued. Or perhaps I can fly to Austria to try them there, its' not that far from the Netherlands!
    Have a great Sunday!

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    1. Magda - I think you should a.) fly to Austria and have some, and then b.) make some. More is always better, right?

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  7. I remember when you made these last year. A new twist never hurt food! I think they are wonderful.
    When I was young, my dad travelled a lot so he would always buy candy and chocolates from wherever he went. I don't think he ever went to Austria because I've never tried these and don't remember coming across them during my childhood.
    They look fabulous, so I'll just have to make some I guess :)

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    1. What a great father, Nazneen! My dad rarely brought us chocolate...

      I am sure somebody in Denver must carry the chocolates... and you could make your own, too!

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  8. Hi David, another great post, how thoughtful of you to make these delectable candies for Mark.......

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    1. Thanks, Cheri! Funny - I had a blueberry dream last night that must have been inspired by your post.

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  9. What special memories you have and are still creating! I admire your ingenuity. I love marzipan / nut paste and have not been able to figure out why they have not gone main stream in America. Seems like a no-brainer. My favorite marzipan treat is from Lebanon - it has a layer of pistachio paste sandwiched with a layer of almond paste and a pistachio in the center for the body of the butterfly. Now that I know I can purchase pistachio paste online I will give it a go. Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. Wow - that Lebanese treat sounds amazing, Cali! What was it called? It sounds like a dream treat for a child.

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  10. David, you devil. You made these!
    We get the "real" ones here and I like them, but I'm sure I'd love your version way more.
    Going to make some, too. Welcome home, my friend. xo

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    1. The thing I liked better about my own, Colette, was the chocolate I used - a bit darker than theirs. It was a great trip - and photos will be appearing on Facebook soon! xo

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  11. Dear David, Mozartkugeln are quite the special treat - sweet decadence, that´s for sure! How nice that you made them for yourself and Mark. Pistachio paste can be a little hard to come buy but you can always make your own! Beautiful pictures, great recipe and wonderful memories to treasure - these are just the very best blog posts!
    Wishing you and Mark a very Happy 2nd Anniversary!
    Liebe Grüsse and euch beide,
    Andrea & Co.

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    1. Thanks, my dear friend - both for your kind comments about my Mozartkugeln and for your anniversary wishes!

      I did make the pistachio paste for this post, but found some in New York that I want to try. I will keep you posted! Auch liebe Grüsse, David

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  12. David - I love this recipe - thank you for sharing. I've never had these confections but I need to find them. All things I love. Thank you!

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  13. What great memories and photos! Would love to try the real thing in the real place. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It is pretty magical to have one there, where they were created, Abbe! Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. These are lovely--and what an interesting story!

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  15. David, over 20+ yrs ago when I was in Salzburg, beyond the beauty of the city, I my favorite part was eating these candies! I loved them, and think it's so cool you tried to make them at home. Even if they weren't exactly the same, I'm sure they were divine! Gorgeous photos, as always!

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    1. I am always a bit surprised when people tell me they have been to Salzburg and they didn't have a Mozartkugel. How can that happen? Glad you did, and enjoyed them, Valentina!

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  16. They look so simple to do... and the result is so beautiful! I love the story, too!
    When you make your own pistachio paste, what quantity of pistachio to the tsp of egg white do you use?

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    1. Thanks, Susan - as for the egg white, it all depends on the oil content of the pistachios. I have had some pistachios that have not needed any egg white at all, and others need a few teaspoons, but add just one at at time, as the paste comes together quickly.

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  17. OMG, David, this is do impressive.
    You know that I'm Austrian but never thought of preparing Mozartkugeln myself. And so easy with just 3 ingredients.
    This is a winner and I'm so going to prepare them to impress my friends :)
    But of course, always referring to the original recipe in your post.
    Cocoa & Lavender rocks!

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    1. You are so sweet, Daniela! Your friends will be impressed, but they never need to know the source! :-)

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  18. I grew up eating Mozartkugeln. My grandmother always brought them when she lived in Austria and kept doing so when she moved back to Germany. There are two major brands, on is flat on the bottom and one is a perfect Kugel, round that is. The latter are Mirabell, and the ones she always brought. Of the retail brands they say they are the originals: chocolate on the outside, nougat in the middle, pistachio marzipan on the inside. How were the blue and silver ones, the true originals?
    Thank you for reminding me of my grandma, who passed away a couple of years ago.

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    1. I am glad this brought back so many wonderful memories for you, Fiona. And how wonderful that your grandmother treated you so wonderfully with Mozartkugeln!

      Not to be a Philistine, but they all tasted rather the same to us. In the end, how can you go wrong with such fine ingredients?

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