Leonie Maria Brandstetter, wife of the ambassador of Austria, has 29 years of experience hosting different dinners and events. Her policy? “I always serve one dish from my country, maybe two, perhaps three, but never more than that. You need variety at the table.” The cuisine of the city of Graz, in the southern part of the country Mrs. Brandstetter comes from, has influences from northern Italy, but for the most part, Austrian cuisine incorporates a strong Hungarian influence. Goulash, dumplings, and wiener schnitzel are popular menu items — and, of course, Austrian pastries and sweets. Mrs. Brandstetter and her kitchen helpers cook everything from scratch — “I never use a caterer,” she says firmly — and she finds everything she needs for her recipes at local grocery stores.
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT PUDDING
1 3/4 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 eggs, separated
1 oz rum
1 oz icing sugar
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup crumbled ladyfingers
2 tbsp milk
1/4 c up hazelnuts (roasted and grated)
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup cream
1/2 vanilla pod, cut open
5 1/4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
5 1/2 tbsp butter (softened)
1 1/3 cup cream, softly whipped (for garnish)
1. Grease small soufflé moulds with melted butter and dust with icing sugar, and refrigerate. This allows the mixture to rise without running over sides.
2. Melt chocolate in double boiler.
3. Whisk egg yolks with rum and icing sugar until smooth and thickened. Add melted chocolate and combine.
4. Whisk egg whites, sugar, and pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Carefully fold about 1/3 of egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
5. Combine breadcrumbs, ladyfinger crumbs, and milk. Fold into chocolate mixture along with hazelnuts and remainder of egg white mixture.
6. Fill moulds full with batter.
7. Fill a deep baking tray with about an inch of water (or use a double boiler) and place moulds in water. Bake in preheated 325˚F oven for about 20 minutes.
8. Loosen small cakes from moulds and arrange on plates. Pour on warm chocolate sauce and decorate with whipped cream.
Sauce: Heat milk with cream, sugar, and vanilla pod. Remove vanilla pod and add finely chopped chocolate to mixture, stirring until chocolate melts. Whip butter and pour into chocolate mixture, stirring constantly. Add some cognac for extra aroma.