My mother-in-law was from Austria, birthplace of a unique dessert called Zaunerstollen, and she received one by mail each Christmas from her relatives. I was introduced to this treat the first Christmas I spent with my husband’s family and I’ve been hooked every since!
Zaunerstollen was created in 1905 at the Zauner Cafe in Bad Ischl to use up leftover and imperfect “Ischl Wafer” cookies. It comes in a chocolate-covered log shape with rounded demarcations where it can be sliced into half-circle pieces. The texture is a little hard to describe. It’s more fragile than a baked cookie and is almost a candy, but with a very fine sandy mouth feel from the caramelized hazelnuts and cookie bits. The chocolate and hazelnut flavor is reminiscent of Nutella. The Zauner website describes the Zaunerstollen as “a harmonic blend of nougat grillage with wafers, hazelnuts and chocolate”. All I know is that it’s delicious and I looked forward to it every Christmas!
After my mother-in-law passed away, there was no more Zaunerstollen. I looked into purchasing one and while the dessert itself is affordable, the shipping cost is hard to justify. I had to come up with an acceptable version for myself to satisfy my craving. I started with the ingredients list and a description of the dark chocolate version of the dessert from the Zauner website. I can’t get the Ischl wafers here in the U.S.A., but I found that the commonly available vanilla wafers work well enough. I knew that there were hazelnuts in the dessert and as near as I can figure, hazelnut nougatine (toasted hazelnuts tossed with caramelized sugar) is pretty close to the hazelnut “nougat grillage” in the ingredients list. It’s an extra step to make the hazelnut nougatine but without it the Zaunerstollen doesn’t have the slightly sandy, crunchy texture of the original. I pulverize these ingredients in the food processor and use chocolate ganache to hold the whole thing together. This mixture is pressed into an oblong cake mold and allowed to dry for 24 hours. The dessert is finished off with a chocolate glaze. Once the glaze sets, it’s ready to serve! While not exactly the same, my version is pretty close to the original (and affordable enough) that it’s become a holiday tradition of our own!
- For the Hazelnut Nougatine:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp. lemon juice
- 1 heaping cup skinned hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
For the Zauner Stollen:
- 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 recipe Hazelnut Nougatine, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
- 4 oz Vanilla Wafers (about 2 cups)
For the Glaze:
- 4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- To make the Hazelnut Nougatine:
- Toast the hazelnuts and then cool and chop them medium fine (about 8 pieces per hazelnut).
- Combine the sugar and lemon juice with your fingers until the lemon juice is well distributed. In a heavy saucepan over medium-low, melt the sugar without stirring until the sugar is fully melted and light golden in color. Stir in the hazelnuts. Immediately turn the mixture out onto a Silpat or parchment paper and fold over several times with a greased spatula. Press the mixture as flat as possible and let it cool completely.
- For the Zauner Stollen:
- In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the cream over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir until completely smooth. Allow to cool. The mixture should be cool to the touch but still liquid.
- Roughly chop the nougatine and then pulse it in a food processor with the vanilla wafers until fine and even crumbs are achieved.
- Pour the crumbs into a bowl and fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the crumbs until fully combined.
- Line a small oblong cake pan or a rectangular bread pan with plastic wrap. The mixture should be no more than 2 inches thick in your chosen pan. Firmly press the crumb and chocolate mixture into the pan.
- Allow the crumb mixture to set up and dry for 24-48 hours in the pan.
- Remove the pressed crumb mixture from the pan and place on a wire rack. It should be firm and hold together.
- To make the glaze, combine the butter and chocolate in a small bowl and melt by placing the bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water. Stir gently to create a shiny glaze. Allow the glaze to cool until it's no longer warm but still pourable. Ladle the glaze evenly over the pressed crumb mixture and allow to set. Keep the Zauner Stollen refrigerated, but allow it to come to room temperature before slicing and serving.