This really should not be a “lost in translation” story because I know what “punsch” is, and yet… Punschkrapfen are ubiquitous here in Vienna. Their bright pink happiness can be seen in just about every Konditorei, and most grocery stores sell them as well.
Random side note: earlier this month, Konditorei Schreiber Mistelbach set out to break the world record for largest punschkrapferl. The finished cake was 146 cm (about 4 ft, 9 in) high and its footprint was 111 x 76 cm (about 3 ft 7 in x 2 ft 5 in) . Check out MZM Museumszentrum Mistelbach’s Facebook page for pictures.
Anyways, despite the name being a huge clue, I never knew what they were and never tried them. Earlier this week I brought my children to the bakery in the grocery store and told them they could choose one cookie each. They each chose one tray of punschkrapfen: I suppose they thought one tray is one unit of measurement, so it was fair game. I bought the two trays, figuring I could finally try one to see what they are.
As soon as I opened the bag, I smelled rum. Hmmm… there are “punsch” stands all over the city during the holidays that sell rum-spiked fruit drinks. Could this be a coincidence? I did a little research and discovered that, duh, punschkrapfen are exactly what the name and smell suggest: cake filled with nougat and apricot jam and soaked in rum. The icing (“punschglasur”) also contains rum sugar. Check out the Wikipedia article for a full breakdown.
My kids loved the “cookies” (I let them try one before I found out what they were), but I was not so impressed. All I could taste was sweetness on top of sweetness, which is not my favorite taste… and likely why my kids liked them so much. I am not entirely sure that I want to learn how to make these. They might be nice for a tea or holiday party, so maybe I will experiment with these around the holidays.