In order ot partake of the diversity of Salzburg's gastronomy it is best to plan one's eating and dining schedule. This is a particularly good idea for the rich repertoire of sweets. Sample a strudel, torte or yeast cake with coffee in mid-morning and afternoon, and savor light puddings and enticing egg creations as desserts after the hearty meals.
Austrian cooks, of course, are world-renowned for their rich and rare pastries, which generally require a diverse selection of ingredients, as well as time and dexterity to prepare. Lesser known are the light and elegant desserts based primarily on eggs, milk, butter, sugar and flour, which are comparatively simple to make.
On Austrian dessert manus there are generally one or more dishes called schmarrn, which are delectable light mixtures. The word means a mere nothing or trifle, and the desserts are based essentially on breads, rolls, semolina or flour. They are sometimes called a pudding, a pancake or an omelet.
The best known of these specialties is called Kaiserschmarrn, often translated as the kaiser's or emperor's "nothing" or "nonsense." The dish was created for Franz Joseph I, who had a delicate stomach. Trapped by a snow-storm during a hunting trip and short of supplies, a cook was able to appease the emperor's hunger with the light creation made quickly with a few staple engredients.
Ever since, Kaiserschmarrn has been a favorite Austrian specialty that is made in several variations. Some recipes include rum or brandy. The desert may be cooked on top of the stove or baked in the oven. The former version is crisper than the latter. It is often served with a side dish of stewed plums or other fruit.
Salzburg's most famous dessert is a delectable fluffy attraction called Salzburger Nockerln (small oval balls of many varieties) or Salzburg souffle, which is said to be made with as many recipes as there are people in the city. It was created over 250 years ago by a chef in the Hohensalzburg palace.
Major variations in the preparation concern the number of eggs (from 3 to 10), the type of flavoring and the method of cooking - on top of the stove, baked or combination of both. The latter, I believe, is preferable.
The most delightful place to savor this dessert is in the elegant dining room of the world-famous Goldener Hirsch, in the heart of the old city on the picturesque narrow Getreidegasse with lovely old, wrought-iron shop signs. Here the dessert is falvored with grated lemon rind, scooped into four large puffs, and handsomely presented in a decorative oval baking dish. It is truly a delight, cooked perfectly with a golden puffed exterior and ligh creamy center.
Given below are recipes for my versions of three superb Salzburg desserts. EMPEROR'S PANCAKE (4 servings) 3 tablespoons raisins 1/4 cup rum (optional) 4 eggs, separated 2 tablespoons sugar 1 cup flour 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 cups milk 3 to 4 tablespoons butter Confectioner's sugar
Soak raisins in rum until soft, if rum is used. Beat egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until light and creamy. Sift in flour and salt, adding alternately with milk. Mix until smooth. Add raisins. Beat egg whites until stiff enough to form peaks. Fold into batter to combine well but do not overfold.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 8-inch heavy skillet or omelette pan. Pour in half the batter and cook over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes, until golden and puffed. Turn out onto a warm plate. Rebutter pan. Return pancake to pan to cook uncooked side until golden and done. Cut into shreds with two forks and remove to a warm pan. Heat more butter and cook remaining batter the same way. Remove also to a warm plate. Serve at once sprinkled with confectioner's sugar an a side dish of stewed plums or other fruit, if desired. SALZBURGER NOCKERLN (6 servings) 1 tablespoon butter, softened 1/2 cup milk 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 4 eggs, separated 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar 1 teaspoon flour
Butter a square or oval 8-or 9-inch baking dish. Add milk, sugar and vanilla. Heat at 375 degrees for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 spoonful at a time, beating after each addition, until mixture is thick and glossy. Beat egg yolks with flour into whites. Remove heated milk mixture from oven. With a spatula drop in three large mounds of egg mixture making them wide and high. Return to oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until outside is golden and puffed and inside is soft and creamy. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve at once. SNOW BALLS (6 servings) 4 eggs, separated 3/4 cup sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 cups milk One-inch piece vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1/4 cup water
Beat egg yolks lightly in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup sugar and salt and beat again. Set aside. Combine milk and vanilla bean, if used, and confectioners' sugar in a large skillet. Slowly heat mixture to simmering. Do not boil. Meanwhile, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until mixture is thick and glossy. Drop egg white mixture by tablespoons, several at a time, into heated milk, Poach about 3 minutes turning once, or until set. Drain on paper towels. Strain milk into a saucepan and heat to simmer. Add a little hot milk to beaten egg yolks; mix well. Add vanilla extract, if used. Return to saucepan. Mix cornstarch with water and add to milk. Cook slowly, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Spoon snow balls into a shallow bowl or serving dish. Pour custard over them and chill. Serve garnished with sliced berries, if desired.