One thing I miss most about living in Munich is hanging out in the coffee houses. I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill Starbucks, where people buzz in and out at breakneck speed, ordering some complicated, overly sweetened drink in a paper cup, where the barista shouts your name when your order’s up and you dash out the door on your way to the next errand. I’m talking about the classic European coffee house, where tradition and history are steeped into every aspect of this breed – the décor, the service, the product and the meticulous ritual of it all. Coffee is served in china cups with saucers and petit spoons, desserts are displayed on beautiful silver trays and the atmosphere is so dignified and historic it almost brings tears to your eyes.
A key element to any European coffee house is the dessert. In Germany, as with other European countries, dessert is not just an occasional treat after dinner but a daily ritual. Like the English have their teatime, many Germans have a cup of coffee and a few bites of dessert in the late afternoon – a Strudel, a piece of Linzertorte, a slice of Kuchen – something to “tide them over until dinner”, we’ll say. Traditional coffee houses will have a mouthwatering selection of desserts to choose from, ranging from fruity to creamy to fluffy to chocolaty, and everything in between.
So this Sunday, in an effort to quell my longings, I brought the Kaffeehaus to my house. I chose to make Dalken, which is a traditional Bohemian dessert that has been adopted and finessed by the Germans and Austrians. Dalken are mini sour cream pancakes, sandwiched together with fruit preserves and sprinkled with powdered sugar just before serving. While Dalken are traditionally filled with Pflaumenmus – a traditional sweet spread made of plums – you can use any kind of fruit preserves for the filling. Dalken are far fluffier than regular pancakes because of the egg whites in the batter, and sweeter too.
Light and airy, sweet and warm, Dalken are a real treat. Next time you have a craving for an afternoon pick-me-up, don’t bother with that thawed-out lemon bar and cup of average coffee. Treat yourself to something special. Brew some good coffee, whip up this easy batter and in less than an hour, you can sit down to a late afternoon bite worthy of any European coffee house. Enjoy!
(makes 16 single Dalken or 8 assembled)
4 eggs, separated
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sour cream or strained plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
¼ c. granulated sugar
1 c. favorite fruit preserves, jam or marmalade
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Heat the oven to 170°. Line a baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel and place on the middle rack of the oven.
Heat a griddle on the stove top over medium-low heat and lightly grease with vegetable oil or butter.
In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, flour, sour cream (or yogurt), baking powder, vanilla and salt with a fork, until most of the lumps are gone. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), beat the egg whites and sugar on high speed until they are shiny and soft peaks form, about four minutes. Carefully fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter until combined, then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites.
Using a small ice cream scoop or large spoon, drop batter onto the hot griddle and allow to lightly brown on each side and cook through the middle, flipping once. Transfer the golden Dalken to the baking sheet in the oven and repeat.
Remove the Dalken from the oven and sandwich two Dalken together using a spoonful of the preserves. Arrange on plates and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.
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Laura Hobbs is a guest contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. Born and raised in Fayetteville, Laura is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, visit her author page.