"O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?"

"Romeo & Juliet " by W. Shakespeare

Temples of Art - Wiener Staatsoper (photos 2+3) and Theater Museum - the Heroica Hall (photo 1)

I had the pleasure of a tour of the Viennese Opera house during the pandemic, last year. An amazing experience: the entire edifice just for us, a group of around 20 people. We used  a brochure to find our way through the magnificent rooms, collecting at each step delightful memories. There were moments of awe, revealed by the warm light of the chandeliers emerging the rooms. There were moments of silence, fuelling your imagination, making you wonder: how many preparations, emotions and struggles behind the perfect show, how many frenzy applauses heard from each loggia. Questions which were filling the air, remaining on purpose unanswered, adding to the aura of the house. There was no need for words, senses were overwhelmed.

The Wiener Staatsoper was inaugurated in 1869. The building we see now was reconstructed in 1950, after WW2 damages, keeping in essence the initial architectural design. Dressed in heavy velvet curtains, golden tassels, elaborates tapestry and stuccos, the institution demands the proper clothing code to any visitor who comes. A small gesture of respect and admiration to the art performance temple you are entering in.

A representation at the Staatsoper is truly unforgettable. I can only remember my going to see Carmen de Bizet, few years ago. The director was none other than Franco Zefirelli, the great movie director (a humble recommendation:  if you did not see any Zefirelli movie until now, try Romeo & Juliet). The scenography was vibrant and unreal in the same time, the voices were incredible, for few hours I travelled in an unimaginable world. Hundreds of people performing on the stage and behind the curtains, months of rehearsals, in search for the perfection, for me to see and hear a masterpiece, just sitting comfortable on a chair. Imagine my wild ovations after each act ended.

Although built 100 years later, Vienna Opera House shares a strong bond with Teatro "La Scala" di Milano. Both most prestigious opera & ballet stages of the world built by the Habsburgs (La Scala owes its existence to Maria Theresia). Works of great composers, Italian or Austrian origins, were played by both theaters. Puccini, Rosini, Verdi or Mozart have filled the auditorium with endless rounds of applauses. And as a fact the current director of La Scala - Dominique Meyer was the Vienna Opera House's manager for 10 years until 2020.

Wiener Staatsoper - inside the Opera House

Such an exquisite visit could only be the source of inspiration for an elegant dessert: Malakoff Torte, a sweet treat often enjoyed in the Opera foyer during intermission. Russian by name, celebrating a French victory, resembling with an Italian Tiramisu and served religiously in each reputable Austrian confectionery.

"Duke of Malakoff" was a victory title awarded by Napoleon III to Aimable Pelissier (later the Marechal of France) after the conquest of the Malakoff Tower during the Crimean War (1853-1856). The Malakoff cake recipe was brought to Vienna from Northern Italy during Kaiser Franz Josef reign (maybe that explains such striking resemblance with Tiramisu). It was enjoyed by the Viennese public and remained as an authentic delicacy of the 19th century Austrian sweet culinary landscape. The French have their own Malakoff but as a charlotte ( a dessert well known left to the French public by Antonin Careme).

Theater Museum - Javanese marionettes

Quite close to the Opera House there is the Theater Museum. I enclosed few pictures above but this will be the subject of a future article, soon to come. Enjoy!

Malakoff Torte (inspiration)


Slices of vanilla clouds :)

Serves 8.


A baking tray of 24cm x 30cm (for Genoise), a baking ring 25cm x 10cm (for assemblage)


250 g Savoiardi biscuits


3 large eggs (about 170g)

60g flour (universal type)

50g Maizena (corn flour)

100g caster sugar

10g Acacia honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

35g butter


1 whole egg + 1 egg-yolk

50g sugar

250g whipped cream

20ml Amaretto / Disaronno

3 gelatine sheets

1 Tbsp Vanilla essence


250g whipped cream

60ml rum

3 Savoiardi

Chocolate glaze

100g roasted almonds (slces)

GENOISE (recipe)

Preheat the oven at 190C. Line the baking tray with parchment. In a small pan melt the butter completely. Set it aside and let it cool.

In a heat proof glass bowl (or metal bowl) add the eggs, sugar and honey. Using the bain-marie technique beat the mixture over simmering water. Use an electric mixer at medium speed. Beat until the mixture have doubled, has a thicker consistency and pale yellow in colour. Set the bowl on the working table and continue mix at high speed until the batter cools completely and falls from the whisk in a thick ribbon (about 15min of continuous mixing). Using a rubber spatula gently fold the sifted flours ( wheat and corn) until well blended. Add the lukewarm butter and vanilla extract and continue to fold until well combined. Pour the batter into the baking tray. Place the tray in the oven and reduce the temperature to 175C. Bake for 25min until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10min then move it on a wire wrack and peel off the parchment paper. Let it cool.


Mix the eggs with the sugar in a heat proof bowl over simmering water (Bain-Marie method) until dense and pale yellow. Remove from heat and continue mixing until the mixture warmth drops to room temperature. Beat the whipped-cream and set aside. Place the gelatine sheets in cold water for few minutes. Take them out from the water and dissolve them in warm Amaretto. Pour the Amaretto gradually into the egg mixture. Add the whipped-cream and fold gently with a spatula until well combined.


One layer of genoise, creme vanille, one layer of Savoiardi, creme vanille, capped by a genoise disc. Cover & decorate the cake -> about that simple. :)

Place the baking ring on your serving dish. Place a disc of genoise at the bottom, pour half of the vanille creme, place on top savoiardi (horizontally) one next to each other as an homogeneous layer (do not press too hard the biscuits into the cream). Add the rest of the creme vanille. Add the cap - also a genoise disc and place it in the fridge over the night.

Second day, take out the baking ring and cover the cake in a fluffy whipped cream +rum mixture. Pipe little whipped cream flowers on top and decorate with 3 Savoiardi "heads " dipped in chocolate glaze. Sprinkle some cinnamon and that's it. A delicious indulgence ! Enjoy!

Malakoff Torte (inspiration)
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