Reber Mozartkugeln (Mozart Balls)

Around this time four years ago, I was bopping around the UK on a school trip. It was three parts fascinating, two parts bus rides, and one part assholes proclaiming 1/8ths Irish Pride for the entire trip. Seriously, anyone with an "-oney," "Mc," "Dougal," or "leprechaun" in their name (all except Schlomo McLeprechaundougaloney, he was adopted) was prancing around Dublin screeching about how awesome it was to be back in the Motherland. I'm 1/8th English and that might just be because this morning, someone spilled their Earl Grey on my shirt, and yet I was the only one to get drunkenly propositioned outside a shady bar. Coincidence? I think not.
Aside from eating some of the best brown bread this side of the Atlantic and performing at some gorgeous churches (this is where my mother will interject that we recorded two CD's and that I still have some back in my childhood room for sale, $7 each) Ireland and Scotland was where I first honed my compulsive weird food spending habits. Do I remember anything about Wales? Not a damned thing, but I do remember tripping while carrying two four-liter bottles of Iru Bru down a hilly road that I successfully crammed into my carry-on bag. Any memories of the Edinburgh? Outside of escaping from the group and gorging myself on all-you-can-eat Turkish Delight and invigorating Turkish coffee, nada. Of the entire trip I had about 150 photos compared to the thousands others took, and at the end, discarded some of my souvenir t-shirts to fit in a few extra bags of chicken-flavored Doritos.
And inevitably, one of the things that sticks most heavily to my brain is the copious amounts of Mozart Balls floating around as makeshift currency amongst our large group, traded for sandwiches and cigarettes like rich kid prison. Our choir instructor had discovered them on the last trip to Austria and came back addicted. She made them out to be better than peanut butter and Jesus sandwiches with the way she kept talking about them. Then again, she obviously had a bias in support of any music-related candy, but I remember trying them and being wholly unimpressed. They'd slipped my mind for a few years until today, when I found them while wandering in a local bakery.
According to their package, Mozart Balls, or Mozartkugel, are truffles with a pistachio marzipan layer, a hazelnut marzipan layer, almond nougat, and two chocolate shells. Cash, yo. Mozart's classic come-hither expression follows your every move. After a quick Wikipedia search it looks like the ones I picked up were actually imitation Mozart Balls, the lesson of which is to know your truffles before you chomp 'em, but no harm, no foul. The truffles are fairly substantial in size with a crunchy outer layer and a very grainy, gummy inside. They also taste incredibly boozy, much more alcohol-infused than I remember. It makes me question if these were the ones I had in Europe as I know that I would not have liked the scotch-heavy notes as a child. The flavor is predominantly pistachio and amaretto with a lingering smokiness from the chocolate, and they're not very sweet at all. The center is quite moist and chewy and one truffle makes for a filling snack. While they're not on the top of my list and really never were, it was a pleasant trip down memory lane- detouring, as always, to cram something in my mouth.

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