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What is a Sacher Torte?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 16, 2024
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Sacher torte is a traditional dessert of Austria, believed to be invented in the city of Vienna in 1832. It is a dense, rich chocolate layer cake, often served with unsweetened whipped cream. Sacher torte is perhaps Austria’s most famous dessert, and is known world wide for its incredibly rich flavor.

Although stories of the origin of the cake vary, most suggest that it was created by a 16 year old apprentice chef at the home of Prince Clemens Lothar Wensel Metternich, the chancellor of Austria. When the head chef took ill and a dessert was ordered, it fell to the teenaged Franz Sacher to invent something on the spot. The result may be the most famous chocolate cake in history, the Sacher torte.

Many years later, the son of the ingenious young pastry chef opened Hotel Sacher in Vienna, which was to become the premiere hostelry of his day. The hotel claimed to have the only authentic recipe for the dessert, despite similar claims made by a famous pastry shop called Demel. The argument between the two claimants grew so serious, the matter was brought to the Austrian courts. As a result, only the version from the Hotel Sacher can now claim to be the authentic original.

The Hotel Sacher version of the torte claims to hold secrets as to the correct making of the dessert, yet that claim has stopped no one from creating their own versions. For a truly authentic Sacher torte, you will either have to travel to Austria and buy one from the hotel, or order one from the online website. A standard-size torte will serve six, and can be purchased for about $45 US dollars (USD) or 29 Euros.

The basic recipe for the torte is quite simple. It is a chocolate sponge cake, usually made with a high grade of dark chocolate. The layers are spread with apricot jam, and the cake is iced with a dark chocolate glaze and chocolate shavings. The sponge cake is notably dry, and obviously rich. Customarily, it is served with an unsweetened whipped cream to cut through the density and intense flavors.

To make your own version of the controversial cake, some experts suggest using couverture, a high-fat bar chocolate that must be melted down. Otherwise, use a high quality bittersweet chocolate for both the cake and the icing. The apricot filling can be a simple store-bought jam, or try combining it with apricot brandy for an alcoholic kick. The glaze on the cake should be a thin, even shell of dark chocolate, but if you don’t trust your pastry chef skills, a simple dripped glaze works fine.

Sacher torte is a cake for serious dessert lovers, and you should expect conversations to come to a halt as guests bite into the intense delicacy. In addition to the traditional whipped cream, try serving with a cup of coffee with cream or liqueur. If you are a true chocolate lover, this historic dessert is the cake for you. Find one soon or bake one, and prepare to fall in love with one of Vienna’s finest creations.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for DelightedCooking. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon36594 — On Jul 13, 2009

That is correct anon26202. The traditional Sachertorte is made with almonds.

I believe it is the "Alhambra" cake that is made with hazelnut meal. The Sachertorte is strictly almond meal. That's the way I was taught at culinary school.

By anon26202 — On Feb 10, 2009

My understanding is that traditional sacher torte is made without flour, using only ground almonds.

By anon17968 — On Sep 11, 2008

Can a torte be made entirely with a ground nut meal?

I am looking for a recipe, Berliner Nuss Tortchen,

possible made with walnut or hazelnut and topped with a brown or burnt sugar icing similar to a ganache

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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