{Austria} Demel Museum

April 9, 2012

Food, Austria

Have you exceeded your capacity for chocolate over Easter, or do you still have room for more? If so, then here’s a sweet museum that might appeal to you. As soon as I knew we would be stopping off by Vienna for a few days on the way home from our Zagreb trip last September, I started researching what museums I could pay a visit too. I’d already seen a lot of the big and famous ones centred around the Museums Quartier during my previous trip in 2007, so I wanted to concentrate on picking a couple of smaller quirky ones this time. The snow globe, undertaker and heater museums all sounded interesting, though as I checked them out one after another my initial list began to shrink – one was only open Mon to Thurs but we would be there Fri to Sun, one was only available via a pre booked tour, while another didn’t open at all until 1 October so we were a week off. Not to mention those who had iPad unfriendly websites (think flash), which made my research fairly short lived.

One museum that, despite its inaccessible website, cropped up again and again was the marzipan museum, also referred to as the chocolate museum or the chocolate and marzipan museum. Either way, I was intrigued and after finally tracking down the opening hours it went on the list.

The museum is situated in the basement of Demel, the famous chocolatier Demel who was once a purveyor to the Imperial and Royal court of Austria-Hungary, and is in fact called the Demel Museum. Although, despite the huge museum sign confirming this fact, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a museum, more an exhibition. Or perhaps show room would be more exact. Along the stairwell leading down to the ‘museum’, there is a a selection of prominent entries from the museums’s guest book. Apparently Ronald Reagan, Yoko Ono, Liza Minelli, Woody Allen, Peter Ustinov, Andy Warhol and Karl Lagerfeld, amongst others, had beaten me to it. Although I didn’t actually see a guest book to sign, so if one day I become famous the lack of my signature will be their loss ;-)

Half way down and at the bottom of the stairs there were a couple of colourful sculptures, including one of a Demel waitress in full uniform and a bust of Kaiser Franz, and the museum itself, which consists of just one small room, was filled with further colourful creations, ranging from a clown standing on its head, through several intricate interlocked Easter eggs, to a replica of the Austrian crown jewels. Presumably these sculptures are all made of marzipan, sugar and/or chocolate – a true showcase of the chocolatier skills – though in the absence of any information of interpretation, save for a ‘do not cross this line’ sign, it was hard to tell. Peering around the corners of the display only revealed storage space for the café and shop.

On the upside, the museum is free and the sculptures are pretty impressive. Though not as impressive as the open kitchen where, through the floor to ceiling glass walls, you can watch the master chocolatiers at work. And while you’re there, you should indulge yourself in a cup of hot chocolate. It will most likely be the most expensive hot chocolate you’ve ever had, but you can definitely taste the difference!


Speaking of hot chocolate, here’s one of my favourite recipes for chilli hot chocolate. It’s an amalgamation of various recipes I found on the internet. Makes 2 large servings.


  • 500ml milk
  • 1 red chilli, halved and deseeded
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 100g dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa), grated
  • 25g dark brown sugar
  • whipped cream
  • marshmallows


  •  Place the chilli and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan together with the milk, bring to almost boiling point then set side and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the chilli and cinnamon, then reheat the milk and stir in the grated chocolate and sugar until fully melted.
  • Serve in big mugs topped with whipped cream and marshmallows.
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