The Great Mozart Ball Taste Test

Anyone who has been to Vienna has been confronted with the ubiquitous Mozart Balls. Sold in souvenir shops, the grocery store, and even museum gift shops, Mozartkugeln, as they are known in German, are round(ish) lumps of marzipan with a chocolate coating, wrapped in gold foil with an image of Mozart. At first glance it would seem that there is simply the single, universal Mozart Ball, but ’tis not so. In fact there are as many variations on these Kugeln (Kugel just means ball or sphere) as there are chocolatiers in Austria. So we decided to settle for once and for all: which is the best of the Mozart Balls?

Four little Mozarts, all in a row: Mirabell, Heindl, Reber, Hofbauer.
Four little Mozarts, all in a row: Mirabell, Heindl, Reber, Hofbauer.

I set out to assemble as complete a collection of Mozart Balls as possible. After trips through several waltz-playing souvenir shops and one Billa I wound up with products from four chocolatiers, displayed here from left to right: Mirabell, Heindl, Reber, and Hofbauer.

You, being an astute observer, will have already noticed that only one of these is, in fact, a ball. That’s the Mirabell, on the left. The others are really more Mozart Lumps. But that’s an even more problematic concept than Mozart Balls, so let’s just stick with the standard terminology, shall we?

And anyway, these things come in all kinds of shapes. As a bonus, I picked up a Mozarttaler (“Taler” is an old-timey word for a coin), and its counterpart, the Sissitaler, named for the Empress Elisabeth, who is an inexplicable obsession around here.

A Tale of Two Talers: Sissi and Mozart are BFFs
A Tale of Two Talers: Sissi and Mozart are BFFs

In the interests of scientific accuracy and also hilarity, I asked for a second opinion in this taste test. Please enter my spouse, respondent S below, who does not ordinarily eat sweets and specifically hates marzipan. Watching her choke this stuff down at 7:30 am was marital good times! So, shall we begin?

Here are the contenders, in the same order as above, cut in half so you can see their guts:

Denuded and deconstructed, a view inside the Mozart ball.
Denuded and deconstructed, a view inside the Mozart ball. They are, again, Mirabell, Heindl, Reber, Hofbauer, and we will taste them in that order.

Mozart Ball #1 (Mirabell):

Me: There is a strong flavor of marzipan and the marzipan itself is very smooth, which I like, but the chocolate on the outside is weird — it’s kind of gummy and has a funny flavor. I think they added something to it to make it wrap around the marzipan, and whatever that something is, it is not so pleasant.

S: Gar nicht so schlecht. Schmeckt sehr nougatmässig. Translation: Actually not so bad. Tastes kind of nougaty.

Mozart Ball #2 (Heindl):

Me: Mixes marzipan with a kind of semi-sweet chocolate cake that a bit overpowers it. Chocolate shell is sweeter than the Mirabell one, but has a better consistency. For me it’s too chocolatey.

S: Marzipan ist sehr grob, und schmeckt wie Marzipan, was ich nicht mag. Schokolade ist irgendwie nicht so überzeugend. Translation: The marzipan is coarse and tastes like marzipan, which I don’t like. The chocolate is not very impressive.

Mozart Ball # 3 (Reber):

Me: Has a chocolate gouache ball in the center and a powerful flavor of liqueur. Really very marzipany. Also very boozy. The center totally overpowers the chocolate coating. It seems hitting a good filling/coating balance is the key to the Mozart Ball. That said, I like marzipan, so it’s ok.

S: Ich finde die verschiedenen Geschmacksrichtungen überlagern sich, und die Konsistenz ist auch nicht so überzeugend. Wenn man jede Schicht allein schmeckt ist es nicht so schlimm. Translation: I find the various flavor elements interfere with each other, and the consistency is not so great. If one tastes each layer alone it’s not so bad. Also I am beginning to feel sick, and think I may vomit. (That last bit was said off the record, but whatever.)

Mozart Ball #4 (Hofbauer):

Me: Veeeeery sweet. Just so one note, the marzipan has very little almond flavor, but the chocolate stuff in the center doesn’t have a lot of taste either. It’s like a sugar ball.

S: Schmeckt nicht gut. Translation: Yuck.

 BONUS: The Taler Tasting

They are stamped like communion wafers with the image of the flesh.
They are stamped like communion wafers with the image of the flesh. Sissi left, Mozart right.

Taler #1: Mozarttaler

Me: I love it! Sweet, creamy milk chocolate with just the right amount of marzipan — soft and sweet — it’s like a Viennese Milky Way!

S: Very smooth. Dissolves on your tongue. Doesn’t taste like much. (She forgot to speak German. She always forgets to speak German. This is why my German sucks.)

Dear God, what is oozing out of that thing on the left??
Dear God, what is oozing out of that thing on the left?? Sissi Sauce???

Taler #2: Sissitaler

Me: YUCK!! Who put jam inside this thing? It’s oozing with apricot jam! I hate apricots. And I really hate surprise jam! There should never, ever be surprise jam in one’s food.

S, having been asked once again to speak German: Hat es Alkohol darinnen? Schmeckt wie Alkohol. Dass mit den Marillen — ekelhaft. Translation: Is there alcohol in this? It tastes like alcohol. And that thing with the apricots — disgusting.

Final Rankings:

Me: Mozarttaler for the win. Then Reber, Heindl, Mirabell, Hofbauer, in that order.

S: Mirabell, Heindl, Reber, Hofbauer. No taler, please.

There you have it — a user’s guide to Mozart Balls. Shop with care, friends.

This entry was posted in Culture, Food, Regan Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Great Mozart Ball Taste Test

  1. Tina says:

    I like the ones from Hofer! Not sure what they are called however…

    • Lisa says:

      Really? I will need to investigate Hofer. Clearly there were some limitations in my sample collection method! But nice to see how much delicious candy is still out there to taste…!

  2. Stephanie Williamson says:

    Try the handmade Fuerst Mozartkugel from Salzburg…they must be the biggest one on the market, but more importantly they are delicious!

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for the tip! A friend also suggested this (after I published, sadly). I tried to do an update adding the Fuerst but one can only buy them in Salzburg. So my update will be pending a road trip… but I hear from everybody that they’re delicious, so I’m looking forward to it!!

  3. Saif says:

    Absolutely well executed product review. I like your scientific approach. Work on the sample size.

    You might even strike a deal with DerStandard and supply them with some free content.

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for the kind comment! Excellent point re: sample size. Future product testing will require going outside the family. :)

  4. Mona says:

    Awesome! I loved this article! And I want a Mozarttaler now.

  5. Katherine says:

    Oh this made me so happy. I must come try them for myself.

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