Monday, March 03, 2008

State by State - Maryland: Berger Cookies



A Berger cookie begs the question, is there such a thing as too much chocolate icing? When my mail-ordered boxes arrived several months back, I wasn't so sure the answer wasn't yes. The dark chocolate icing certainly was enticing, but the size of the cookie was intimidating. Despite my initial skepticism, I had no trouble eating every last crumb of my Berger cookie and my officemates quickly polished off two boxes of them. Too much icing? Phhhhffft!

I barely remember the cookie itself, which is overshadowed in every respect by a generous half-inch of that dark fudgy icing, but it was a firm, cakey cookie. It much resembles the familiar black and white cookie from New York, but it has lots of black and no white.

I had not heard of them until I started hunting around for a cookie that hailed from Maryland, but they apparently have legions of fans. They have been made in Baltimore since the 1800's and according to DeBaufre Bakeries, which makes them today, the recipe is little changed from the original.



My attempts to find a recipe for the cookies were less than successful. I found a recipe for Suzanne Laubheimer's Version of the Famous Berger Cookie (scroll down - it's the second recipe), but the icing clearly wasn't right (just melted chocolate chips) and I was suspicious that the cookie wasn't close either when I read the instructions to shape the dough into one-inch balls and flatten with a glass. I decided to use a black and white cookie recipe for the cookie and the fudge icing recipe from a half moon cookie recipe. I ended up with a cookie in the spirit of a Berger cookie (lots of icing, though I didn't have the guts to pile it on to the degree you find on a Berger cookie), but just not the same. If I try this again I would use a cocoa-based fudge icing for a darker flavor and color.

Next time - A state dessert for Maryland?

12 comments:

rowena said...

You've just proved to me that there is always something new on the cookie front. I have never heard of Berger Cookies, but I tell you what...they look like something that the "boys in the office" would go nuts over!

Rachel said...

Yum! I've been wanting to make a homemade Berger cookie but it hard getting the cookie texture and the icing just right.

Kate said...

I've lived in Maryland (Baltimore area) for practically all of my life minus four months when I lived in Korea for three and Mexico for one. I went to college on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where that Perdue chicken plant you mentioned is located. If you've never had a Smith Island cake you should, it's 7-10 layers of cake deliciousness. I've heard recently that they are trying to make it the state dessert of Maryland!

Cathy said...

Hi Rowena! They're unique to a single bakery in Baltimore, so it's not too surprising you hadn't encountered them before. You're right - these are sure crowd pleasers, particularly for those who appreciate big, over-the-tope cookies. I didn't get Denny to write any comments on them, but I'm thinking - what could he possibly complain about? :)

Hi Rachel! I haven't tried any tinkering to get these just right, but before I could do that I think I would have to eat a few more of the real thing... for scientific purposes of course!

Hi Kate! Guess what - that's exactly what I was planning to talk about next time! Unfortunately, I haven't ever had one and I don't think I'm going to attempt to make one, but I've enjoyed reading about them and about Smith Island in particular. I would love to visit there someday.

Cakespy said...

Good Berger! I am so glad to have been introduced to this treat--I had never heard of it before!! I love learning about new cookies :-)

toro said...

Hellow!
I live in japan.
I'm gethering date about ice cream and dessart.
please link to this site.

elizabeth said...

oh my goodness, I'd totally forgotten about these. I had the pleasure of discovering Berger cookies when I lived in Washington DC. Oh my, I may have to bookmark this recipe. Thanks for the memories!!

Anonymous said...

Ooo, your version does look like a good start. But I think you need Dutch process cocoa--the extra dark kind processed with alkali--to get closer to the original. Just a guess!

Sara said...

As of this week, King Arthur Flour has a recipe for their version of the cookie:

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/recipe.jsp?recipe_id=1209397505316

Of course, the bakery does have a website so you could just order the real thing :)

Also, Smith Island Cake is now officially the state dessert. The Washington Post has a neat article about it in the Food section and a recipe.

BETSY RIRIE said...

JUST CAME BACK FROM PASADENA MD LAST NIGHT AND HAD THE PLEASURE OF TASTING ONE OF THE BERGER COOKIES YESTERDAY. THEY ARE AWESOME AND AM LOOKING FORWARD TO SENDING THEM TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY FOR THE HOLIDAYS. PROBABLY IS A GOOD THING THEY ARE NOT IN FLORIDA STORES. BETSY, ST.PETE FL

lennikins said...

Being a born in "Balmor" girl, I recently started hunting for a retail suppier of the Berger cookie to buy for some relatives. Besides the chocolate, they also made the jelly filled version and also an almond version that was long rather than round. Does anyone know where to purchase these delights?

Orlando personal injury lawyer said...

Those cookies look tasty. Thanks for sharing your recipe.