Liquors and Liqueurs

Appears in

Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague


By Rick Rodgers

Published 2002

Austro-Hungarian bakeries are liberal in their use of alcoholic beverages as flavorings. The alcohol also helps to heighten the flavors of the other ingredients. Liquors are alcoholic beverages distilled from grains and other plants. Eau-de-vie is a clear alcoholic beverage distilled from fruit juice, sweetened only by the residual sugars in the fruits. Highly perfumed and not especially sweet, they are quite expensive, as it takes pounds of fruit to make a bottle of eau-de-vie. Liqueurs are sweet alcoholic beverages, usually made from an infusion of an ingredient (fruit, herbs, or seeds, as examples) with a spirit (such as brandy). When cooking with any liquor, the rule of thumb is to always use what you would happily drink by itself. Invest in the best you can possibly afford, as it will keep for years. If you get too budget-minded, the flavor of the dessert will be compromised.

If you don’t want to cook with alcoholic beverages, you can substitute appropriate fruit juices or syrups. Apple juice or brewed coffee are good substitutes in tortes that use Cognac, rum, or brandy. In cream desserts, you can use any of the above suggestions or simply substitute an equal amount of heavy cream for the liquor. Here are the most common alcoholic beverages used to make Austro-Hungarian pastries:

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