So I did it. I caved in and bought a Dirndl. I’m not sure why really; I have no practical use for it, and despite some possible misconceptions, it’s really not daily wear around here. But dang, they’re so cute. Trachten (Dirndl, Lederhosen, etc.) have typically been unique to Bavaria and other German-speaking Alp regions, but as of lately they’re really taking off all across Germany for Oktoberfest. And with the famed party coming up in just a couple months, Dirndl and Lederhosen are everywhere. So I guess I just walked past one too many department store windows, one too many Oktoberfest themed displays, and I caved in. I bought one of the beautiful, expensive, bust-enhancing dresses. On sale, of course.
I love the dress, with all of its attention to detail, delicate cut, and matching yet contrasting apron, but I do lament the fact that it will probably spend most of its life hidden away in a closet. I don’t even attend Oktoberfest, and well, Halloween parties just aren’t a thing here. So, I felt I had no other choice than to bust it out and model it for you, dear reader (a big deal for me, I generally hate being photographed!). Here it is, my silly photo. Please enjoy, and contact me if you’d like to rent the Dirndl for your own party (wink wink).
And as I continue to dive in to all things German, feet before head naturally, I learn more funny translations to tickle my funny bone. If you read my Windbeutel post, you know what I’m talking about (if not, take a peek!). And when thinking about my Windbeutel post, I couldn’t believe that I forgot one of the funniest translations yet: Krankenschwester. A Krankenschwester is a nurse, but separate that compound noun, and translate it into English, and what you have is a sick sister. To me, that sounds like a butt-rock band name from the 80s (maybe it is and I am clueless). And the moment you’ve been waiting for…let’s hear it for Sick Sister! I certainly don’t think caring, compassionate nurse when I hear the word. And I don’t think ambulance when I hear Krankenwagen (sick car), or hospital when I hear Krankenhaus (sick house).
Nor do I think dessert when I hear Kalter Hund. Kalter Hund is cold dog (you see my point here). When I first heard of it I thought that maybe those words had dual meaning that I just had no idea of, but no, it’s a cold dog. And why would the Germans name a dessert a cold dog? I don’t know, but I reckon I won’t question it too much because Americans eat hot dogs all the time. And the British eat bubble and squeak, or bangers and mash. And well, strange names seem to abound (for food, and celebrity babies).
So on these warm summer days, when chocolate is appealing, but turning on the oven is not, a Kalter Hund is a good compromise. When I first read through the recipes, and then created a couple of them, German Rocky Road came to mind. It’s a similar composition, but different enough to be unique. It’s a guilty pleasure on a hot day. It’s cookies and other goodness covered in chocolate and made into a ‘cake’. It’s as versatile as you want it to be. And now, it’s your turn to try it.
Kalter Hund (Chocolate and Biscuit Cake)
¼ cup (40g) dried cranberries
½ cup (50g) pecans
2 eggs (room temperature)
5 tablespoons (60g) powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons (14g) cocoa (unsweetened), sifted
7.05 oz (200g) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
7.05 oz (200g) milk chocolate
8 ounces coconut butter (or regular butter)
5+ ounces (150g) sweet biscuits* (roughly 5 oz, but use enough to make a complete layer)
*Sweet biscuits: here in Germany the cookie used is Leibniz, a sweet, thin biscuit. These cookies are available in America in specialty shops such as World Market, Amazon, or even a German deli in your neighborhood. However, if you don’t want to hunt them down, any sweet biscuit of your liking will do.
Like I mentioned previously, this recipe is versatile. Don’t like cranberries or pecans? Replace them with whatever you do like.
Prepare a loaf pan by lining it with baking paper (carefully fitted pieces will help the finished cake look nicer). Roughly chop the cranberries and pecans, and set aside to sprinkle on your finished cake.
In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, powdered sugar and cocoa, and beat on medium with a handheld electric mixer for one minute. Set aside.
In a heatproof bowl, combine the bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate and coconut butter. Place the bowl over a pot filled with ½ an inch of simmering water, and using a rubber or wooden spoon, gently stir the mixture until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and stir the chocolate mix into the egg mix until you have a smooth combination.
In your prepared loaf pan, pour approximately 4 tablespoons of the chocolate mix in the bottom, and spread to make a smooth layer. Next, lay 4 biscuits, side by side, along the bottom, creating your first layer. Repeat this process by adding 4-5 tablespoons of chocolate and 4 biscuits until the chocolate and biscuits are gone, finishing with a thin layer of chocolate. Spread your chopped cranberries and pecans across the top. Cover the cake with tin foil and refrigerate for at least six hours, or better yet overnight, to set completely.
When firm, gently remove from loaf pan, place on a serving platter and slice carefully (a good bread knife works best here). Guten Appetit!