Make Ahead

Ischler - The Emperor of Cookies

October 25, 2012
0 Ratings
  • Makes about 40 cookies
Author Notes

Ischler (or Isler, Ishler) is a tiny cookie dating back to Austro-Hungarian Empire. The cookie was first made in 1849 in the town of Bad Ischl as a treat to the Emperor Franz Joseph I, who established his summer residence there. Needles to say, the tiny Ischlers immediately became Emperor’s favorite desert and incredibly popular across all Austro-Hungarian lands. I inherited two different recipes for Ischler from my two grandmothers. I distinctly preferred the recipe from Grandmother A. I cannot name the names here, because the other side of the family will take offense. Recipe supremacy is a dangerous territory. Grandma B's recipe was far from bad either, it had some very strong points. Hence, my mom and I went to work, did a bit of readjusting here and there, went back and forth a couple of times and united the family in an embodiment of an Ischler that defines perfection. (Just my modest opinion.) The version below is now our “family approved” trademark.

p.s. The recipe requires a certain degree of baking/pastry skills -- if you are not in the mood for making the chocolate cream, you can substitute it with raspberry jam, which is another popular version of Ischler recipe. —QueenSashy

What You'll Need
  • The Cookies
  • 210g (6 oz) butter
  • 2 small egg yolks
  • 100g (3 oz) powdered sugar
  • 60g (2 oz) dark chocolate
  • 300g (8 1/2) all-purpose flour
  • The Cream and Icing
  • 210g (6 oz) granulated sugar
  • 70g (2 oz) semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate (for the cream), cut into pieces
  • 125g (3 1/2 oz) butter (for the cream)
  • 150g (5-6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate (for the glaze)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (for the glaze)
  1. The Cookies
  2. Melt the chocolate. In a mixer fitted with paddle, beat the butter with the powdered sugar until creamy. Add the egg yolks and continue to beat until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and continue to beat until incorporated. Add the flour and beat until uniform dough forms. Shape the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325° convection bake (350° regular bake). Place the dough on work surface dusted with flour and roll it out to a 1/4-inch-thick round. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small round cookie cutter (I use 1-inch or quarter-size cutters), stamp out the cookies and arrange them one inch apart on the baking sheets.
  4. Bake for about 12-14 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  1. The Cream and Icing
  2. Prepare the cream: In a medium size saucepan, mix the granulated sugar with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir in the chocolate. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to boil to make syrup. (Occasionally remove the sugar from the edges of the pan with spatula so that crystals do not form.) Once the syrup reaches the soft ball stage (about 235F) remove from the heat and add the butter. Continue to stir until the butter is fully incorporated. Put the cream into the refrigerator for about 3-4 hours until completely cool and creamy. (You might have to occasionally stir the cream to prevent the crystals from forming on the top.)
  3. Once the cream has cooled and firmed in the refrigerator, transfer it to a mixer and beat until it becomes light and fluffy.
  4. Take a cookie round at a time, spread the cream on it and top with another cookie round. (At this point, when all sandwiches are constructed, you may want to put them in a tin and send them to the fridge for about two hours, the cream will firm up and the cookies will be easier to glaze.)
  5. Prepare the chocolate glaze. In a small saucepan melt the chocolate with five to six tablespoons of water over low heat. When all the chocolate has melted, mix well, add the butter and continue to simmer until the glaze is uniform, thick and shiny. Remove from the stove and let it cool for about a minute or two.
  6. Dip the cookie sandwiches into the glaze (one side only), and leave on work surface until the chocolate glaze sets hard (about 2 hours). When the glaze has hardened completely, place the cookies into a tin box with a tight lid, and store in a cool dry place for at least one day before serving.
  7. If you are storing the cookies in the fridge - make sure you take them out about two hours before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Francine Schmehl
    Francine Schmehl
  • Naushin AB
    Naushin AB
  • healthierkitchen
  • Rivka
  • Devangi Raval
    Devangi Raval
Aleksandra aka QueenSashy is a scientist by day, and cook, photographer and doodler by night. When she is not writing code and formulas, she blogs about food, life and everything in between on her blog, Three Little Halves. Three Little Halves was nominated for 2015 James Beard Awards and the finalist for 2014 Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. Aleksandra lives in New York City with her other two halves, Miss Pain and Dr. V.

17 Reviews

Francine S. January 14, 2021
I am very interested in giving this recipe a try, but I am concerned about the glaze step, do you really mix water WITH the chocolate in the pot ? I thought this would make the chocolate "seize"! When I make my Easter candy and prepare chocolate to dip the formed candies in, if the water that is in my pot to help melt the chocolate in a glass bowl (like a makeshift double boiler) gets into the chocolate in the bowl, even just a few drops, I have to throw it away -or use it for something else- and start over! Does the addition of the butter help this out?
QueenSashy January 14, 2021
Francine, you can absolutely temper the chocolate the proper way and go with it if you prefer. This glaze is slightly different, not shiny like traditional chocolate glaze, instead it us matte and slightly softer. The way to go about it is to use very low heat (or double boiler) and add water slowly, tablespoon by tablespoon (you may not use all) until it gets incorporates and the glaze has creamy consistency. Butter prevents the glaze from looking dull and also drying out. I find that both tempering the chocolate the standard way and this alternative have ups and downs and require practice, and also there are ways that both can go wrong, so you should really go with the method you are most comfortable with.
Francine S. January 14, 2021
Thanks for your quick reply, would definitely experiment with the chocolate glaze first, maybe try it out on Oreos first (one of the very few commercial cookies I love), then if it is successful, I would dive right in and do the entire "from scratch" recipe. may use the raspberry jam filling, one of my family's favorites!
QueenSashy January 14, 2021
one of my grandmothers used raspberry jam instead of chocolate cream and that's totally the way to go.
Naushin A. December 19, 2017
Thank you for sharing this recipe! This is the only one that features chocolate cream between the cookies which is how my Mother in Law makes it but she guards her recipe like a dragon haha. I can't wait to make these for my husband this Christmas!
Mae_23 August 14, 2016
Ummm... QueenSashy, may i ask if it is really really hard? Because I'm worried that I mess up while baking. Its my first time ever and its for my project
QueenSashy August 14, 2016
No, no, no -- it is not hard, but a little bit of kitchen confidence helps with this recipe, because there are quite a few steps to it. I used to watch my mom while she was making them, and that's how I acquired practice. Cookies are straightforward, but keep an eye on the cream. Good luck!
healthierkitchen December 10, 2013
These are absolutely gorgeous and mouthwatering! I definitely do not have the baking skills for these but they are appealing. I don't know these from my husband's family, but I did finally get a Sacher type torte down - it's my husband's childhood birthday cake!
QueenSashy December 10, 2013
If you can make Sacher torte, you have baking skills!
Rivka December 9, 2013
Hey QueenSashy, can you share a bit about the texture and flavor of these cookies? Are they flaky, doughy, crispy? Picture is gorgeous but would love to know what I'm making before I start :)
QueenSashy December 9, 2013
Hey Rivka, the basic cookie (before you make it into a sandwich) is crispy and a bit flaky. It is also a nice treat on its own. But when you glue the two cookies with the cream, glaze with chocolate and let them rest for a day (that is a must), they soften and become very rich and creamy, almost like a mini-torte.
Devangi R. August 12, 2013
Alexandra, we (me and my husband), I took two bites for him from yesterday's potluck to try out) really loved these cookies. I am planning to make these for a birthday surprise that we are throwing this coming weekend for my in-laws. The only thing I am concerned is the measurements part. Do you think I can measure everything in cups perfectly, I do not own weighing scale. Thanks
QueenSashy August 12, 2013
The cream and the icing you can safely convert, no need to be deadly precise. You want to be as precise as possible with the cookie dough. I just measured all the ingredients on my scale in grams and then transferred them to cups, so here is what I would do for the dough: 210g butter = 2 sticks of butter minus one tablespoon, 300g flour = 2cups + 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup (or 3 not so generous cups of flour), 100g confectioners sugar = 2/3 cup plus a half of 1/3 cup = 5/6 cups (or one not so generous cup of sugar), and 60g chocolate = 2 1/2 oz chocolate (you are good with anything between 2-3oz).
Devangi R. August 20, 2013
Thanks a lot ! I made these and gave them as favors. They all loved it.Recipe is a keeper. It was so nice to meet you.
QueenSashy August 20, 2013
Hipimama October 26, 2012
I can not find good quality dark chocolate in Belgrade at the reasonable price. Do you think non dutched cocoa can be used as a substitute, maybe with additional butter???
QueenSashy October 26, 2012
I think that you can, but the quantities might have to change slightly. I made the cream with cocoa before, but have not tried the cookies.