Rich chocolate gluten-free brownies with sugar-free German Chocolate topping. A low carb dessert lover’s dream!
This is the final instalment in my Viking Cruise series and it was meant to come much earlier. But the holidays got in the way, so better late than never! Check out Part 1 (Hungary) and Part 2 (Austria) if you need to refresh your memory.
One of the things that Viking does very well is to time the cruise so that you are asleep during much of the “boring parts” of the Danube. So after leaving the beautiful town of Melk and the gorgeous scenery of the Wachau Valley in Austria, we arrived in Passau, Germany the next morning. This colourful, hilly town is at the confluence of three rivers: the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. Being surrounded by water on several sides, it’s has sustained some major floods over the years. The town hall, or the “rathaus” has markers going up a least 20 feet, showing the high water marks. The last major flood was in 2013 and there was still visible damage on the houses in the town.
We had the opportunity to hear the impressive (and impressively loud!) organ played in St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and then we sat down with a few friends to enjoy authentic German sausages and beer at a small beer garden in town. We had been told to return to the ship by 3pm so that we could head on our way to our next stop at Regensburg, and this is where our tour went a little awry. We headed back to the ship on time, only to see a sign saying that because of low water concerns, we wouldn’t be heading out until 9pm that evening. So we had a few extra hours to enjoy Passau, and my husband and I decided we would go for a run to get a little exercise and work off our sausages.
It was an unbearably hot day, very still and humid, but later that afternoon it really seemed like it was going to rain. Dark clouds gathered and the wind picked up and everyone hoped this meant some more water for the Danube. But it was not to be, the rain held off and the skies cleared up. And the next morning, we docked not in Regensburg, but in a little town called Vilshofen, and from there we were bussed to our tour. We had quite a quick morning tour of Regensburg, which is a shame because it’s a lovely place and I would have liked to explore it a bit further.
But we were off to Kelheim for lunch, where I had what might have been the best meal of the trip at the Schneider Weisse brewery: a gorgeous roast pork with the most perfect piece of crackling on top. I wish I’d taken a photo of that for my fellow pork lovers! After lunch was a boat tour of the Danube Gorge and a visit to Weltenburg Abbey, another gorgeous Monastery. I will admit to feeling a little “abbeyed out” at that point. You see so many striking buildings and churches and monuments, you start to weary of them a bit and they all begin to run together in your head. Still, I wouldn’t change the tour up to that point for anything.
We were bussed back to our ship, which was still docked in Vilshofen, and there we received the bad news. The water in the Danube was simply too low to continue. We were meant to have a tour of Nuremberg and then fly out the following day, but they could not risk sailing any further.
Here’s where it gets complicated. Because some people had very early flights out of Nuremberg, Viking said that they were willing to bus all of those people the three hours to Nuremberg and put them up in a hotel. The rest of us, however, were not given that option. We were to stay aboard the ship in Vilshofen. We could still tour Nuremberg if we wanted, but it required a 3 hour trip there and a 3 hour trip back to the ship. Otherwise, we could explore the (tiny) town of Vilshofen, and finally be bussed to Nuremberg for our flights on the final day.
My husband and I tried to make the best of it, but we were frustrated with our options, neither of which were particularly appealing. We were surprised that Viking was not willing to put up everyone at a hotel in Nuremberg, given the low water situation. We decided not to be bussed back and forth to Nuremberg for the tour, because we would have make the 3-hour journey yet again on the last day to catch our flights. I will confess, it was not a great end to what had been, to that point, a great trip. It felt like quite a letdown and I was left feeling somewhat disappointed.
Friends and family ask me now would I do a Viking trip again, even with this snafu? Yes, I would. Not right away, because organizing care for our three little ones was a bit of a logistical nightmare. But I would absolutely consider another tour in the future. Overall, Viking does a great wonderful job of everything. The food was amazing, the city tours were well run and informative, and the crew members were always helpful and courteous. And cruising slowly up or down large waterways is a spectacular way to see the world (as long as those waterways contain enough water!). And for this busy couple of three young kids, it was such a wonderful way to spend some time along together. Our Romantic Danube trip is one I will hold in my heart for a long time to come.
For a low carb recipe to symbolize Germany, I waffled between Bavarian Cream (because we were in Bavaria, after all) or German Chocolate. German chocolate won out because, well…pecans, caramel, and coconut. How can you not go with that? I’d never made German Chocolate before but it was so easy to make a low carb version. These brownies were heavenly and now I am addicted to German Chocolate topping. Expect to see it again soon!
Preheat oven to 300F and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan well.
In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, sweetener, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter and unsweetened chocolate together over low heat, stirring until smooth. Add to almond flour mixture.
Stir in eggs and vanilla extract until well combined. Add just enough water to make the batter pourable. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and smooth the top.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until just set in the center. 25 minutes for more fudgy brownies, 30 minutes for more cakey brownies. Remove and let cool completely.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, egg yolks, sweetener, and butter. Cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, coconut, and pecans. Sprinkle surface with coconut flour and whisk briskly to combine (this helps the butter not settle out).
Spread topping over cooled brownies and drizzle with melted chocolate. Let set 20 minutes before cutting into bars.
Serves 25. Each serving has 2.3 g NET CARBS.
Food energy: 194kcal
Total fat: 17.49g
Calories from fat: 157
Total dietary fiber: 2.97g