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Kalter Hund is a chocolate lover's dream

Anja Koch in Berlin
May 7, 2024

Kalter Hund, or cold dog, might not sound too tempting at first. But this mix of buttery biscuits and chocolate has a long tradition in Germany.


Video transcript

These are buttery biscuits smothered in chocolate for a no-bake treat.  

In Germany, it's called Kalter Hund ("cold dog"), or a Kalte Schnauze ("cold snout"). It's also known as a hedgehog. Here, this dessert has cult status. 

German woman: "Ohhh, it's wonderful!"

German man: "It's just tasty." 

German woman: "It was my favorite!"

German woman: "It isn't baked but loaded with calories." 

German woman: "It's chocolaty and tastes wonderful."

And how do you make a hedgehog slice, and how did it get its name?  Let's find out.    

For that we head to the Alte Backstube cafe in Berlin. This man knows almost everything about the hedgehog slice: he's been making and selling the dessert since 2017. 

Uwe Marchlowitz: "My name's Uwe Marchlowitz, and I enjoy making something that puts others in a good mood." 

Once a week, Uwe whips up the dessert, all by hand.  

He uses cocoa, almond meal, sugar, coconut oil, fresh eggs, milk — and lots and lots of biscuits.  

Uwe Marchlowitz: "We make sure the oil's liquid but not too hot, so 50 degrees is optimal.  We heat the milk, so it's hot but doesn't boil over." 

First, the cocoa, sugar and almonds are mixed together. 

Uwe Marchlowitz: "It has to be stirred for a few minutes, so everything's nice and mixed. In the meantime, we'll add some more ingredients." 

The liquid coconut oil has to be added very, very slowly to the cocoa paste.   

Uwe Marchlowitz: "The ingredients should all be mixed together smoothly, so they form a totally homogeneous paste. The next step is the milk. Here again, it's important to have a little patience and not dump it in all at once." 

The last to go in are the eggs.   

Uwe Marchlowitz: "It's looking good. Then drain it well: we don't want to waste any of this good paste." 

Now, it's time to layer it up. He lines a loaf pan with cling film and alternates a layer of cocoa paste with a layer of biscuits.    

Uwe Marchlowitz: "It's important to have something underneath, to bind the crackers." 

But why specifically biscuits?   

Uwe Marchlowitz: "They soak up a little of the moisture left in the paste and soften up so that, later on, we can slice them like a cake to sell in our cafe." 

Uwe stacks eight layers of biscuits and then pours on the topping.   

Uwe Marchlowitz: "Finally, we scoop in most of the paste from above and along the sides and carefully press it in. That fills up all the hollow spaces we have inside. We end up with a cracker-and-chocolate structure that may not always be completely even, but it's fairly regular. Just having biscuits alone would be a little boring, so a bit of chocolate can go on it." 

The hedgehog slice goes into the fridge overnight. Variations on the classic are being created all the time. But first, where did it get its German name, "cold dog"?   

It’s thought to have originated in the mines, where the shape of the mine carts called "Hund" or dog, resembled that of the loaf pans used to make the hedgehog slice. So, who invented it?

Uwe Marchlowitz: "We'll never find out for certain. They say, this recipe was created sometime in the early 20th century. That had to do with the availability of basic food staples. Many families were happy just to see the children get a little meat on their bones. And, of course, hedgehog slice is good for that, and still is." 

This Berlin cafe offers new variations alongside the classic, such as hedgehog slice with mint or peanuts, or with white chocolate and nougat crunch. At least 10 versions are on the menu here. And which one is the bestseller?   

Uwe Marchlowitz: "The classic. We also get some older patrons, and for them, hedgehog slice is really a bit of their childhoods. It was basically a staple in most homes." 

At 500 calories per piece, the hedgehog slice is not a light snack!