"...for the weakest goes to the wall. Tis true and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall..."

"Romeo & Juliet" by W. Shakespeare

A good number of great women had ruled in Europe until 18th century. To name just one: Elisabeth I of England. Still, at the dawn of 1700, Habsburg monarchy was prioritising male succession. A woman as "heir" was the worst case scenario. 40 years later they were proved to be wrong: Maria- Theresia was one of the most famous rulers of their dynasty. She ruled for 40 years (1740 - 1780) and her reign stands as the Golden Age of House of Austria.

She assumed the reign at the early age of 22, after the sudden death of her father Charles II. At that time she was the wife of Franz Stephan and mother of three baby girls. Although her desire to rule was strong, she was still young and unprepared in the eyes of other European monarchs, especially Prussia.  For them, House of Austria was as extinct and its lands were a good praise, "waiting" to be attached to great Prussia. In the following 8 years of war with Prussia Maria-Theresia proved her strength and resilience. She fought her way to power. In 1748 the peace treaty signed in France was acknowledging the international recognition of Maria -Theresia, as the rightful Habsburg monarch. The next 32 years of reign were focused mostly on reforms (administration, economy, military, social policies) defining a nation and building a stronger empire.

Very close to the border with Slovakia lies a magnificent baroque castle: Schloss-Hof, one of the residences of Maria Theresia. She bought the property, a hunting manor in 1755 from Savoy family. Selling a castle in 18th century - one of the most opulent era - to a queen who owned at that time several royal properties, was was no easy job for the owners. Their interest was to sell at highest price. Savoy's son decided then to throw a 3 days party, so fabulous then even "Roi Soleil" would be pleased. The queen and her husband were impressed. Today, after extended works of restoration the castle stands proud and beautiful as a memory of a great era.

Schloss-Hof and Maria Teresia Chocolate Thaler  (upper painting portraits Maria Theresia unpacking the presents on a 6th of Dec day)

One year after the Empress came to power, in 1741, the Maria Theresia Taler was minted for the first time. The coin was made of fine silver, weighting 26 grams. Soon it became a well known trade currency in the German speaking world, accepted formally in Bavaria in 1751. The coin usage grew outside European borders. It was found later in Saudi Arabia, Muskat, Ethyopia, Oman, India. In WW II in Indonesia during the Japanese occupation the MTT (Maria Theresia Taler) was still preferred to other coins. The MTT s not in use anymore, being a "protected coin", struck especially for coin collectors.

The Maria-Theresia Thaler recipe is inspired by the history of the famous MTT coin. A crispy round biskuit topped with red-currants jam and marzipan, dressed entirely in thick dark chocolate glaze. Chocolate was quite fashionable amongst upper classes and royalty in 18th century. The cocoa and the habit of drinking it came along with other exotic spices from the Americas in 16th century. Cardinal Richelieu's passion for chocolate made the drink quite popular among Jesuits and thus spread quite quickly to other royal European courts. Who might refuse chocolate - a stimulant or a sweet companion in times of political turmoil or crisis :)

100 years later, chocolate was more than a drink, a french chef invented the chocolate creme - the "ganache" which can be used as filling, as couverture or simply as a sauce adding richness to any dessert. And this is what we will use in the recipe below to shape the famous chocolate coin. Enjoy it !

Schloss-Hof (snapshots from a beautiful trip in Autumn) and Maria Theresia Cholcolate Thaler ( in the making )


For 20 small cakes (coins)


150g flour (universal type)

150g fine ground hazelnuts

75g confectioner's sugar

125g butter (room temperature)

10g baking powder

2 Tbsp white wine

Mix the flour with the baking powder, add the butter and the rest of ingredients one by one. Use your hands and incorporate slowly the butter with the rest of the ingredients until a smooth dough. Leave it to rest for 15 min.


300g dark chocolate (80%, best quality - Valrhona or Lindt)

75g butter


Red currant jam (100 g)

Marzipan (already made) 150g


A 4cm diameter "coin" consisting of 3 layers: biskuit (base), red currants jam (middle), marzipan (top). Once assembled dress the coin in chocolate glaze and leave it in the fridge until chocolate sets well. The glazing will have to be done on wire rack, above a tray or parchment paper (pouring the glaze will turn to be quite messy but it is worthy :)). I added pure chocolate sprinkles on top but you can use any nuts or sugary decorations you like.

You can serve the delicious chocolate thaler with a coffee or along with some whipped cream and pistachio like I did. Enjoy !

Schloss-Hof ( gouache on pergament 18th century and Bernardo Belotto -18th century)
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