Salzburg's Signature Dessert Is Inspired By The Surrounding Mountains

The Austrian town of Salzburg is known for Mozart, "The Sound of Music," and the Alps, notes Planetware. Perhaps playing on all of these touristic elements is the elegant, fluffy dessert named Salzburger nockerl, which is made intentionally to resemble some of the snowy mountains that surround the area. Made using only a few ingredients, Salzburger nockerl is a favorite Austrian dessert for good reason, assures Cookist.

For visitors traveling to the mountainous region, Salzburger nockerl is a must-try dessert, recommends Holiday in Austria. Yet even if you can't make it to Europe, in less than an hour, you, too, can place this sophisticated-looking treat onto the kitchen table. And it isn't every day that cooks get to make dishes that represent geographical features, and the Salzburger nockerl is just that: pillowy, edible mountain peaks that don't require crampons or gear to enjoy. Soufflé lovers, you're in for a real treat with this dessert.

Origins of Salzburger nockerl

Not to be confused with the Austrian nockerln, a denser kind of dumpling, Itinari explains that the Salzburger nockerl is a fluffier delicacy that is served for dessert or as an afternoon treat. The soufflé-like dish can be accompanied by fruit compote and is made from eggs, flour, sugar, butter, lemon, and vanilla (via Chef's Pencil).

Itinari clarifies that it is difficult to pinpoint who exactly first came up with this delightful treat, but one rumor claims that Salome Alt, the mistress of Salzburg's Prince and Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, invented the recipe. After a few bites, the prince's heart was won, and tales of the dish's three noticeable peaks continue to be shared. 

For mountain lovers, Salzburger nockerl can be the perfect punctuation after a long day playing in the outdoors. But regardless of whether or not you are an outdoors enthusiast, We Love 2 Ski insists this is a sweet to try.

How it is made

To make the fluffy dessert, Holidays in Austria instructs bakers to first heat milk in a sauce pan along with a sliced vanilla pod and lemon juice. Once warm, set the mixture aside, remove the vanilla pod, and line a bake-safe tray with butter. Pour the vanilla-flavored milk into the bottom of this container, then whip egg whites with sugar and a pinch of salt. This egg mixture will harden in texture and turn decadently creamy. To prepare the dish for baking, gently fold the smoothly beaten egg whites into a mixture of egg yolks, lemon, sugar, flour, and cornstarch. Using a whisk or spatula, shape three mountain-shaped nockerl and bake the creation at around 420 degrees Fahrenheit. When the white peaks turn golden, the dish is ready to serve.

Because the nockerl can shrivel and collapse when taken out of the oven, it is best to serve this dessert quickly. Garnish the dessert with light sprinkles of powdered icing sugar or plate on top of raspberry compote.

Where to find Salzburger nockerl

You will likely find some of the best servings of Salzburger nockerl in the restaurants, cafes, and taverns in the region surrounding Salzburg. We Love 2 Ski notes that this dessert is a traditional, signature dish and is a staple on menus in the area. Though originally intended to be a dessert serving for one, the presentation commonly arrives to tables large enough to satisfy a small group, notes Itinari

Keep in mind that the recipe for Salzburger nockerl has variations. Some cooks use different types of vanilla and choose their own preferences of fruit to serve alongside the dessert, but if you enjoy other meringue recipes such as pavlova and meringue cookies, Chef David Lebovitz assures you will also appreciate the texture and flavor of Salzburger nockerl.

Can't make it to Austria? Have fun assembling the impressive-looking dish at home and surprise dinner guests with the whimsical presentation — after serving a meal of schnitzel or goulash, of course.