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Sunday
Aug032008

Berger, Hold the Fries: Baltimore's Famous Cookies and More

Berger Cookies
You know that scene in the Wizard of Oz, after the house lands, when Dorothy opens the door and suddenly her world is in technicolor?

Well, that's sort of how it was for us when we recently tried the Berger Cookie for the first time. Call us starry-eyed dreamers if you will, but it felt as if something changed in our lives when a parcel of the precious cookies arrived (a gift from our friend Mitch in Baltimore) at the Cakespy Headquarter doors.

(Cakespy Note: Since the cookies were shipped to us, the cookies shown in our photos may differ in appearance from cookies purchased in Baltimore! They were no less delicious though.)
Berger CookiesBerger Cookies
For those who may not be familiar with these treats, the Berger Cookie is possibly Baltimore's crowning culinary achievement: a buttery, cakey cookie with a soft, sweet, fudgy chocolate topping. The recipe was brought to America in 1835 by German immigrants George and Henry Berger; since then the bakery's ownership has changed a few times and they are now produced on a large scale--but unlike many prepackaged the cookies, they are all still made and frosted by hand, and it shows: like snowflakes, no two are alike. We think that DCist put it beautifully: 

...the extra-thick layer of fudge, which is nearly a half an inch at its thickest point (yes, we measured), is applied in an absurdly generous schmear that can barely be contained by the limited surface area of the cookie. As a result, the fudge tends to droop over the cookie in odd formations with distinctive wave patterns--like chocolaty stalagtites. What's more, the actual amount of fudge can vary dramatically from cookie to cookie.
Of course, as the article goes on to say, "This, of course, leads to dilemmas when sharing your Berger Cookies with others". Because if you're like us, when you bite into that "absurdly generous schmear", there's no turning back, and certainly no offering bites to others. The beauty is not only in taste (which one Serious Eats reader described as "almost nauseating--in a good way") but in texture--whereas on other cookies the chocolate topping may be hard and break off unevenly, the soft fudge on the Berger cookie doesn't crack when bitten, and therefore allows the perfect ratio of chocolate to cookie with every bite.
Berger Cookies, we love you. 
Buy Berger Cookies online at bergercookies.com, or check out the list of retailers in the above-mentioned DCist article. Also--what a find!--though the official Berger recipe is apparently quite closely guarded, you can find one baker's version here.

Cowgirl Cookie from Liz LovelyGinger Cookie from Liz Lovely
Of course, we realize that one cannot live on Berger Cookies alone (arguable). That's why we're glad to have experienced some other mail-order cookies recently too! We first learned about the vegan Liz Lovely cookies through our friend Imani, who has a website called Chocolate Nerd, and knew we had to try some. Not only do these cookies have heart (they're organic, they're cruelty free, they're free trade, and packaged with green materials), but they happen to be addictively soft and insanely delicious as well. We are particularly in love with the Cowgirl Cookie, whose description promised "A chocolate chip cookie so soft, sweet, and slightly baked you'll wonder why we didn't just leave it in the mixing bowl for you!"--and oh, does it deliver. A close second was the Ginger Snapdragon, a spicy confection of molasses, ginger, and delicious (it's also their bestseller). The package says a serving is half a cookie, but we defy you to let the second half sit til later. Available online at lizlovely.com.


Berger Cookies on Urbanspoon

 

Reader Comments (36)

You always find the strangest things that I would never usually try, and make me want to taste them SOOOOO bad!

I'm so nervous about starting the job tomorrow! I already found out I was supposed to come in to train today, but they told me via e-mail and I don't check it that often!

Yeah dude I'm totally gonna make a banana split cake... somehow...!!

Moon ago I lived in Baltimore. I never heard of this cookie. I was more focused on the crabs. Now I wish I had known them.

August 3 | Unregistered Commenterglamah16

God bless Mitch!

August 3 | Unregistered Commentersurcie

I think Bergers were featured in a very recent issue of Saveur magazine. I was on the fence about ordering, but I just may be pushed over now! And soft cookies? Ahhhh...bliss!

Hey, thanks for linking to my recipe! I don;t know how you will like it but it is an addiction at my house!

August 3 | Unregistered Commentermarye

I've got to confess, they're not the prettiest looking things I've ever seen but who cares if they taste great? Not me!

This sounds fabulous. I want to eat it.

August 4 | Unregistered Commenternoisy penguin

cookies by mail is arguably the best idea ever. excellent finds, as usual. :)

August 4 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

Oh my those sound fabulous!! Just one bite to heaven by the sound of things :)

Rosie x

August 4 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

I love Berger cookies! I went to college in Baltimore, and one of my writing professors used to bring them in as a bribe to get us to participate more in class. =)

August 4 | Unregistered Commentertooshytostop

I've never heard of a Berger cookie, until reading this post... I've been missing out!!

August 4 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl

How to Eat a Cupcake: Oh, good luck at it! And I hope you like the Berger cookies if/when you get a chance to try them!

Glamah: OH NO!! Well, you could always visit...

Surcie: Indeed! he is a prince!

Curly Glamour Girlie: Oh cool! I didn't see that article, do you remember what month?

Marye: You're very welcome--thank you even more for sharing it! It looks good to me, I can't wait to try it.

Caked Crusader: True, but delicious! And that forgives a multitude of sins.

Noisy Penguin: You should get some!

Grace: Thanks! They're so delicious!

Rosie: It is.

Tooshytostop: Yay! Glad that you have a pleasant bribery association with the lovely cookies!

Veggiegirl: I thought the Liz Lovely ones would be of greater interest to you!!

August 4 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

Oh my goodness, that is some cookie!

August 4 | Unregistered CommenterVeron

How wonderful is it that here in MD, you can buy Berger Cookies at Costco?

Answer: Extremely wonderful.

August 4 | Unregistered CommenterK8teebug

It's a recent one - the one with the crabs on the cover - the Berger article is on the cover (or rather a teaser for it!).

that burger cookie looks bomb!

August 4 | Unregistered CommenterLina

What an absolutely awesome and wonderful blog. I love your little cup cake people!

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterTom Aarons

For your truly superior blog, I've bestowed upon you the coveted Arte y Pico award. See it here: http://alteredplates.blogspot.com/2008/08/altered-plates-receives-arte-y-pico.html

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterDeb Schiff

Wow--these don't look so pretty, but they sound delicious! Does Mitch want to send me some, too?

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Just not a soft cookie eater. Unless it's from The Rolling Pin in Fitchburg. You can add that to the Lanes, Clausen's list. I may have to vist my pastry haunts real soon.

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterJeanna

aww poo!
i just left baltimore this morning, ughh none of the locals told me anything about this cookie although they did recommend dangerously declious pies. wish i saw this article before i left. o_0

August 5 | Unregistered Commenterweirdazngurl8

Oh wow, those look spectacular. And you can get them in the mail!

I've never heared of berger cookies, but suddendly I have this urge of going to Baltimore. I wonder why?... Maybe thay can more or less cloned at home, butter cookie and fudge, yummmm!

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterClumbsy Cookie

I have never heard of these cookies, but now I'm wishing I had one!

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah
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