baltimore in cookie form

Once, a long time ago when I lived in Portland the first time around, my girlfriend met a guy who lived in Baltimore. She spent the first months of their cross country relationship visiting him in Baltimore a few times. During her visits, she was introduced to local foods of B’more, one of which she brought back to Portland and introduced to me. 

I remember my first bite of a Berger cookie. The cute box with the classic typography, the misshapen cookie disc, the fudgy top that’s a cross between chocolate icing and chocolate fudge. That first taste of soft white cookie and sweet chocolate had me immediately hooked. Every time my girlfriend would visit her East Coast boyfriend, I hoped she would bring back a box of Berger cookies and would feel like sharing them.

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Through the years, I would think about Bergers off and on, but they are regional enough that finding them outside of the Baltimore area is a difficult task. This summer I had a layover at Baltimore Washington International, and to my delight, I stumbled on a display of Bergers in an airport store. Of course, I bought a box and was once again, hooked.

This recipe is as close to the real thing as possible. If you find yourself in Baltimore, I encourage you to try the real thing. If you’re like me and live 2,800 miles from the land of Bergers, try this recipe.

My kitchen notes

Store cooled cookies in an air tight container. They tend to get stale after three days.

Berger Cookies – adapted from the King Arthur Flour website

Yield: About 20 medium (3″) cookies.

Ingredients

Cookies 

1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup milk

Chocolate icing 

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 tablespoons (1 ounce) light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup (6 ounces) heavy cream

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease or line two baking sheets. 

To make the cookies

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, salt, vanilla and baking powder. 

3. Beat in the sugar, then the egg.

4. Add the flour to the wet ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Do this gently; there’s no need to beat the batter.

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5. Using a spoon, drop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. The balls of dough should be about 1 1/4″ in diameter.

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6. Flatten each mound of dough to a circle about 1 ½” across; wet your fingers or a knife, or grease the bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup to do this. Leave 2″; to 2 1/2″ between each cookie, for expansion.

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7. Bake the cookies for about 10 to 11 minutes, or until they’re slightly brown on the bottom, but not colored on top. You may see the barest hint of browning around the edges, but these cookies are supposed to be soft and cake-like, so don’t over bake them. Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool right on the pan as you make the frosting.

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To make the icing

8. Place the chocolate chips, corn syrup, vanilla, and cream into a large saucepan. 

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9. Heat the mixture until it’s very hot; the cream will start to form bubbles. Remove from the heat, and stir until smooth. 

10. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Let cool to warm room temperature.

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11. With a large spoon, take a large dollop of cooled icing and swirl  around to really give it a good coating. Set the cookies back on the baking sheet. 

12. Spread the remaining icing evenly atop the cookies. If it’s too soft and flows off the cookies, let it set a bit, until it’s firmer. It’ll feel like you’re piling on a lot of icing; that’s precisely the point! 

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13. Allow the icing to set, then store the cookies airtight in a single layer. Keep at room temperature for several days; or freeze for longer storage.

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