Sweet Salzburg

The salt has made this city rich. It became famous because of Mozart and it is beautiful by nature. Despite its name, Salzburg is also a city of sweets. From the finest chocolates to edible city mountains, the culinary specialties range. Whether marzipan core, chestnut nougat or soufflé – no less than three Salzburg originals not only have sugar to offer, but also a good story and a connection to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Stadtansicht Salzburg mit Festung Hohensalzburg und Domquartier / © Foto: Georg Berg
City view of Salzburg with Hohensalzburg Fortress and Cathedral Quarter / © Photo: Georg Berg

Salzburg Mozartkugeln

Not everything, but many things in Salzburg point to the city’s most famous son. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart saw the light of day in Salzburg in January 1756. The eternally young child prodigy has left his mark on the city. Visitors from all over the world meander through the small rooms of his birthplace in the Getreidegasse, visit his early places of activity such as the cathedral and the Old Residence, as well as the inns where Mozart liked to socialize. In addition, there are monuments, statues, cardboard cutouts and Playmobil figures in rococo tails and with the powdered hairstyle named after him, the Mozart braid. The brilliant composer and musician became the genius loci of Salzburg.

Souvenirgeschäft in Salzburg mit Werbung für Salzburger Mozartkugeln, I love Salzburg-T-shirt und Starbucks Cafe / © Foto: Georg Berg
Souvenir store in Salzburg advertising Salzburg Mozartkugeln, I love Salzburg T-shirt and Starbucks Cafe / © Photo: Georg Berg

A trendsetter in Mozart tourism was master confectioner Paul Fürst. In 1890, he invented a handcrafted, elaborate praline and called it the Mozartkugel. What was new about the Mozartkugel at the time was its round shape and technically sophisticated concentric structure. Green pistachio marzipan is coated with fine hazelnut nougat, placed on a wooden stick and dipped in dark chocolate coating in one swift movement. Then the ball is placed on a board to allow the chocolate glaze to harden. This is still the way it is done today, explains Doris Fürst, who runs the traditional company in its fifth generation with her husband Martin Fürst.

Die Herstellung einer Mozartkugel mit Marzipankern, Nougat und Schokoladenüberzug war aufwendig und eine Neuheit in der Patisserie. 1905 wurde die Praline auf der Internationalen Produktschau in Paris mit einer Goldmedaille ausgezeichnet. Der Erfinder versäumte die Patentierung. Seitdem gbit es weltweit viele Nachahmer / © Foto: Georg Berg
The production of a Mozartkugel with a marzipan core, nougat and chocolate coating was complex and a novelty in patisserie. It was invented in 1890 by the confectioner Paul Fürst / © Photo: Georg Berg

When the chocolate balls are dry, the sticks are removed and the hole is closed with a stanitzel, a small spout filled with liquid chocolate. Martin Fürst is a master confectioner like his ancestors. To this day, the Fürst confectionery attaches great importance to the use of high-quality ingredients according to the original recipe from 1890 and the renunciation of palm oil and preservatives, Doris Fürst explains. Marzipan, hazelnuts and chocolate were already high-quality and expensive ingredients back then. To prevent snacking during working hours, Paul Fürst introduced the whistle rule. He calculated that if you whistle, you can’t put something in your mouth on the side. Even though many traditions have been preserved at Fürst and many work steps are still done by hand, the confectioners no longer have to whistle, Doris Fürst makes clear in conversation.

Doris Fürst leitet gemeinsam mit Martin Fürst in fünfter Generation die Konditorei Fürst in Salzburg. Das Stammhaus befindet sich seit über 130 Jahren in der Altstadt von Salzburg / © Foto: Georg Berg
Together with Martin Fürst, Doris Fürst is the fifth generation to run the Fürst confectionery in Salzburg. The parent company has been located in the old town of Salzburg for over 130 years / © Photo: Georg Berg

At the Konditorei Fürst, the main focus is on consistently high quality. Thus, the Original Mozartkugel can only be purchased in the stores of the Konditorei Fürst in Salzburg. Since the early 2000s, it has also been shipped – albeit with a summer break during the warmer months. Only imitation products reach the supermarket chains and gas station stores of this world. The world market leader produces half a million balls a day. Industrial manufacturing processes and the use of preservatives make it possible.

Stammhaus der Konditorei Fürst in der Salzburger Altstadt, Brodgasse 13. Hier erfand Paul Fürst 1890 die Original Salzburger Mozartkugel / © Foto: Georg Berg
The headquarters of the Fürst confectionery in Salzburg’s old town, Brodgasse 13, where Paul Fürst invented the original Salzburg Mozartkugel in 1890 / © Photo: Georg Berg

Original or just real?

How did it come about that the invention of the Mozartkugel, including its name, was so openly copied? In 1905, Paul Fürst presented his Mozartkugel in silver paper with a blue Mozart likeness at an international exhibition in Paris and was promptly awarded a gold medal. This international recognition brought not only fame, but above all imitators. From now on, the Mozartkugel was copied not only in Salzburg, but also abroad. Paul Fürst had neither the product nor the packaging trademarked. After the Second World War, the Salzburger Mozartkugel was produced by the millions.

Zutaten der Original Salzburger Mozartkugel der Konditorei Fürst. Aus Mandeln und PIstazien entsteht der grüne Marzipankern, aus gerösteten Haselnüssen und Schokolade entsteht Nougat. Rund 3,5 Millionen Kugeln stellt die Konditorei Fürst jedes Jahr her / © Foto: Georg Berg
Ingredients of the original Salzburger Mozartkugel of the confectionery Fürst. Almonds and PIstacia are used to make the green marzipan core, while roasted hazelnuts and chocolate are used to make nougat. The confectionery Fürst produces about 3.5 million balls every year / © Photo: Georg Berg

Eventually, a copyright dispute arose between the confectioners producing Mozartkugel, which initially developed into a competition between Austrian and Bavarian companies and was eventually carried all the way to the European Court of Justice. The dispute was never about the recipe, but about exclusive distribution and export rights, about the type and color of the packaging, and about the designation Mozartkugel and the additions echt, original and Salzburger. Norbert Fürst, the great-grandson of the inventor, won the case in 1996, and since then the Fürst confectionery has been the only manufacturer allowed to claim the designation Original Salzburger Mozartkugel for its product. For Mozartkugel laymen, all imitators of the Fürst Mozartkugel can be recognized by the mostly golden-red packaging and the confusing addition “Echte Salzburger Mozartkugeln”.

Original Salzburger Venusbrüstchen sind Schokoladenpralinen mit Maronen-Nougatcreme und einem Stück marinierter Amarenakirsche umhüllt mit weißer oder dunkler Schokolade. Verzehrempfehlung, weiße Pralinen mit Prosecco, schwarze zu Kaffee / © Foto: Georg Berg
Original Salzburg Venusbrüstchen are chocolate pralines with chestnut nougat cream and a piece of marinated Amarena cherry covered in white or dark chocolate. Inventor Ludwig Rigaud recommends white chocolates with Prosecco, black with coffee / © Photo: Georg Berg

Salzburg Venus Breast

Ludwig Rigaud sits casually at a corner table in Salzburg’s Café Sacher. Yes, the famous Viennese café also has a branch in Salzburg. On the table in front of him are small boxes. Their contents are the descendants of a Petit Four Frais, which already delighted high society in Mozart’s day. At that time, Ludwig Rigaud explains, it was a pastry fresh from the day, shaped into a round, erotic form and served as capezzoli di Venere, or Venus’ Nipples. In the 1984 film Amadeus, the frivolous confection makes its own appearance. Constanze Mozart, Amadeus’ wife, is offered Capezzoli di Venere by the court composer Antonio Salieri and is overjoyed.

Ludwig Rigaud, Erfinder der Original Salzburger Venusbrüstchen, wuchs im Geburtshaus von Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart auf, das seine Familie vor mehr als 100 Jahren von der Familie Hagenauer kauften. Lorenz Hagenauer war Vermieter und Freund der Familie Mozart, Im Erdgeschoss des Hauses in der Getreidegasse 9 befand sich die  "Alte Hagenauerische Specereywarenhandlung", Salzburgs erste Adresse für Delikatessen, Kaffee und Gewürze, die Ludwig Rigaud mit seinem Bruder bis 1994 weiterführte / © Foto: Georg Berg
Ludwig Rigaud, inventor of the original Salzburg Venus breast / © Photo: Georg Berg

The Venusbrüstchen consists of marinated chestnuts with nougat and Amarena cherry pieces, covered in black or white chocolate and the characteristic pink dot that makes the confection a Venusnipple. For the Mozart Year 1991, Ludwig Rigaud created this praline according to the old recipe. He had been involved with specerey of all kinds for many years by then, and with Mozart anyway. Ludwig Rigaud grew up in the house where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born, which his family had bought from the Hagenauer family over 100 years ago. Lorenz Hagenauer, in turn, was a landlord and friend of the Mozart family.

Mozart’s Geburtshaus in der Getreidegasse 9 in Salzburg. Bis 1994 befand sich im Erdgeschoss ein Feinkostgeschäft und direkter Nachfolger der "Alten Hagenauerischen Specereywarenhandlung". Heute versorgt die Supermarktkette SPAR hier Touristen aus aller Welt mit Getränken und Snacks / © Foto: Georg Berg
Mozart’s birthplace at Getreidegasse 9 in Salzburg. Until 1994, the first floor housed a delicatessen and direct successor to the “Alte Hagenauerische Specereywarenhandlung”. Today, the SPAR supermarket chain supplies tourists from all over the world with drinks and snacks here / © Photo: Georg Berg

On the first floor of the house at Getreidegasse 9 was the Alte Hagenauerische Specereywarenhandlung, Salzburg’s first address for delicatessen, coffee and spices. Ludwig Rigaud ran this delicatessen together with his brother until 1994. The market power of the large chains did not stop at Getreidegasse. Today, SPAR is emblazoned above the grocery store in discreet gold lettering, and plastic bottles are sold to thirsty tourists from all over the world. Ludwig Rigaud’s Venusbrüstchen, however, have survived and have been made for Stranz & Scio Specereyen in one of Austria’s best confectioneries since 1991. They are available in selected Salzburg delicatessens and in an online store. The other day, Amadeus was on TV again, Ludwig Rigaud recounts, and the first orders for the Original Salzburg Venusbrüstchen were received even before the credits rolled, he smiles.

Salzburger Nockerln mit Preiselbeersahne und Puderzucker. Die drei Nocken repräsentieren die drei Salzburger Stadtberge: Kapuzinerberg, Mönchsberg und Rainberg. Salzburger Nockerln werden stets frisch zubereitet und sind ein Soufflé aus Eischnee, Zucker und Eigelb / © Foto: Georg Berg
Salzburger Nockerln with cranberry cream and powdered sugar. The three dumplings represent the three Salzburger / © Photo: Georg Berg

Salzburg dumplings

In the operetta season in Salzburg they are sung about, the Salzburger Nockerln: “Sweet as love and tender as a kiss”. Hardly any Austrian dessert is as well known as the Salzburger Nockerln. Yet their exact origin is not clear. It is believed that they originated in the early 17th century, which makes it very likely that Mozart also knew the Salzburger Nockerln.

Rotariu Razvan, Koch im St. Peter Stiftskulinarium in Salzburg, erklärt Food-Journalistin Angela Berg, dass es bei der Zubereitung von Salzburger Nockerln vor allem auf eine stabile Masse aus Eischnee und Zucker ankommt / © Foto: Georg Berg
Rotariu Razvan, chef at the St. Peter Stiftskulinarium in Salzburg, explains to food journalist Angela Berg that the most important thing in preparing Salzburger Nockerln is a stable mass of beaten egg whites and sugar / © Photo: Georg Berg

What is certain is that they were a bourgeois dish of the 19th century in their current form. They have evolved through various stages from choux dumplings to pan omelettes to the famous soufflé. In the Stiftskulinarium St. Peter they form the conclusion of a menu after historical recipes in the context of the Mozart Dinner. Chef Rotariu Johny Razvan explains what is important in the just-in-time preparation of the dumplings. Before the egg-white mixture goes into the oven, it must be stable enough for the three gnocchi to be placed in an oven-proof mold. At the popular Mozart dinner in the baroque hall, where often more than 100 guests are entertained, some custard powder is added to increase the shelf life of the gnocchi.

Salzburger Nockerln sind ursprünglich eine bürgerliche Speise aus dem 19. Jahrhundert. Eine Portion reicht für drei Personen / © Foto: Georg Berg
Salzburger Nockerln are originally a bourgeois dish from the 19th century. One serving is enough for three people / © Photo: Georg Berg

A serving of Salzburger Nockerln consists of a mountain of three gnocchi. The egg whites are beaten with sugar and then the egg yolks are folded in. A little flour or pudding powder is added to stabilize the mixture. Cut out three pyramid-shaped dumplings from the airy mixture, place them in an ovenproof dish, bake them in the oven until golden brown and sprinkle them with plenty of powdered sugar. They must be served quickly or the mound will collapse. The three dumplings stand for Salzburg’s snowy local mountains Kapuzinerberg, Mönchsberg and Rainberg. In the St. Peter Stiftskulinarium they are served with cranberries.

Barocksaal im Stiftskulinarium St Peter in Salzburg. Schauplatz für das Mozart Dinner Concert bei Kerzenlicht. Zur Musik von Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wird ein historisches Menü anno 1790 serviert, das stets mit Salzburger Nockerln als Dessert abschließt / © Foto: Georg Berg
Baroque hall at St Peter’s Abbey Culinary Center in Salzburg. The setting for the Mozart Dinner Concert by candlelight. A historical menu anno 1790 is served to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which always ends with Salzburger Nockerln as dessert / © Photo: Georg Berg.

To taste the three Salzburg specialties, a trip to Salzburg is recommended first and foremost. To reward oneself with Mozartkugeln, Venusbrüstchen and Nockerln after a city walk over the Mönchsberg at original locations, one would come quite close to the baroque and opulent lifestyle of that time. This succeeds particularly well at a Mozart dinner in the St Peter Stiftskuliarium. Pragmatists, however, can also order the original Salzburg Mozartkugeln and the original Salzburg Venusbrüstchen to take home. Only the Salzburger Nockerln are not transportable, but are on the menu in many Austrian restaurants. Which traces Mozart still left in his hometown Salzburg, reveals the article Stadtwanderung mit Mozart.

The research trip was supported by Salzburg Tourism

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