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Berger Cookies

by on July 25, 2012 · 25 comments

A cookie I’ve been curious about but have never tasted is Baltimore’s famous Berger Cookie. Created in 1835 by German immigrants George and Henry Berger, the cookies are now sold by DeBaufre Bakeries and can be purchased on line or at various retailers. Given the hot weather and the fact the cookies have a cakey bottom and thick layer of chocolate on top, I figured I’d try a clone version before putting in my order.

Berger Cookies

First on the list was King Arthur Flour’s Berger Cookie, which is the one everyone else seems to be using. They have two versions, and I went with version 2.

Overall, the cookies are good. The base is to be expected – just a cakey vanilla cookie similar to that of a Black & White, while the fudge is rich and sweet. I used extra dark chips rather than semisweet to curb the sweetness a bit, and I was careful to weigh and sift the confectioner’s sugar since it’s easy to use too much or too little.

I liked the cookies but want to keep playing with the fudge topping. For now, I recommend King Arthur’s version. The cookies are beautiful and delicious.

Berger Cookie Clone Recipe

And when the temperature drops below 90, I’m going to order a box of the real thing!

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Published on July 25, 2012

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Katrina July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm

They look great!

Chewthefat July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I heard about them on NPR and DID think they sounded like a black-and-white with a different ‘topping’ distribution. They apparently have quite a following, but they don’t make it up to NJ.

Sheila In MD July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm

I live in MD and was introduced to them shortly after I moved here…I don’t find them similar to black/whites at all but that might just be me! I describe the cookie part as “simply a vehicle to carry the topping” as they are ALL about the chocolate! LOL!!! If it were cooler Anna, I would send you some! Remind me in better weather and will happily do so! I might need to try the clones and see how they compare-thanks for posting!

Cookie Sleuth July 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm

The frosting looks fantastic! I have never had Berger Cookies either. Let us know how they are when you order them.

Anna July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Sheila, definitely tell me what you think! I might try a different glaze/fudge topping tomorrow.

Kelly @ Cibatarian July 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I’m from Baltimore originally and Bergers taste like home (along with Tasty Kakes and Utz Crab Chips). My parents send them every Winter. I’ve been tempted to make them myself but am afraid that if I do it once and succeed I’ll do it ALL THE TIME. And my waistline just can’t take that. :-)

To give you an idea of how they’re supposed to be, my spouse doesn’t like them because “they’re too rich”. Super rich fudge topping with somewhat plain, a bit dry cookie on the bottom. *drool*

FTR, they freeze really, really well and can be shipped on ice, after they’ve been frozen.

Anna July 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Yes, they are rich. I’m curious to see just how rich the Berger fudge topping is compared to the one devised by King Arthur. Thanks for the tip on freezing them. I made a full batch, but half of the topping. That is, I left 12 “blank” so that I could try a new fudge topping tomorrow.

Chewthefat July 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Here is the NPR piece I heard:

Interestingly, the story mentions that the difficulty of keeping the cookie from melting is one of the reasons it is so regional.

And a four page Washington Post article…

Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust July 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Love these, they sound SO yummy!

Louise July 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I don’t find the Berger cookies all that appealing. I think they are too sweet. My husband worked in Baltimore for nine years and we had a second home in Havre de Grace, MD so they were available all the time, but I’m just not a fan.

Adam July 25, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Another day, another recipe I’ve never heard of :). Though I have to say, the descriptions of the “authentic” version are pretty terrifying to a person who reduces sugar in nearly everything :).

I’m very curious to see where you take this one Anna :).

[email protected] July 26, 2012 at 10:54 am

Anna, I’ve been wanting to make the Berger cookie for a while now but can’t seem to get around to it. I have a 20-page file containing multiple recipes for them, and now I’ll be adding yours! The base does remind me of a black and white cookie. In fact, overall, it reminds me of a black and white–just without the “white”! I’m anxious to try them just to compare to my black and whites (also known as “Half Moons” in my hometown of Boston). One cookie I did finally getting around to making and posting (today) is the knock-off recipe for Levain Baker’s chocolate chip walnut cookie. Oprah says it’s her favorite. It is an outstanding cookie and one of the best of any kind I’ve ever eaten. I know you’ve tried a version, but I can’t remember if you used any cake flour or corn starch in it. The version I tried uses a combo of both all-purpose and cake flours to replicate pastry flour which is supposed to be the “secret” ingredient in the Levain cookie. Never had the original–but I can’t imagine it tasting any better than the clone. It was simply amazing! I’m craving one right now!!

Anna July 26, 2012 at 11:25 am

Fran, you might want to to order some Levain cookies and do a taste test. I did, and this one comes close. Comparing yours to this one, they seem to be the same cookie except for the type of flour and the fact I used European style butter and a convection oven. I may try my version with the AP/Cake/Cornstarch mix just for fun.

Jane July 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Have you tried to replicate the Baltimore Bomb pie, that is made with the Berger cookie in a chess type pie? So yummy, I flew back to California with 8 boxes of Bergers in my carryon to try to figure out how to make one. It took 45 minutes to explain it to TSA, yes mail order them.

Karen July 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Jane, I’m LOL at your TSA story. I have never heard of either Berger cookies OR Black and Whites. I love learning about the regional things. From a Midwesterner born and raised and still a Midwesterner. ha.

luv what you do July 26, 2012 at 10:09 pm

These look like my favorite black and white cookies that I can only get in NY. My mouth is watering just thinking about them! I will have to check out the King Arthur website!

Mary July 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm

If your cookies are “beautiful”, I’m sorry but they’re NOT an accurate clone of a Berger cookie : ) Bergers are turned upside down and dredged (by hand) through the fudge, and you honestly end up with equal amounts of frosting to cookie, or often more frosting than cookie! Oh, they’re also oblong but of course shape doesn’t affect taste or texture.

I like chocolate and fudge as much as anyone, but true Bergers have too much frosting for my taste; I hadn’t considered trying to make them myself but perhaps I’d prefer a clone version where I could use a bit less frosting!

Ruberta July 27, 2012 at 4:28 am

Being from Baltimore, I can find these cookies nearly everywhere. One or two cookies satisfy suprisingly well and we are rarely ever able to get close to consuming the standard 15oz package sold everywhere. However, one note: if they are purchased fresh, they freeze well and we often enjoy them one at a time frozen from the freezer with about a 3-5 minute thaw. Yum. The fudge like chocolate topping may indeed be rich and decadent, but when eaten with the cookie dense cookie portion it balances the palate and is so very good. I hope you get an opportunity to try the originals. I would be happy to send you some if you have any problems ordering. Enjoy!

Anna July 27, 2012 at 6:47 am

Thanks so much for the offer to send some! I’m going to wait until it cools off around here and put it an order. Given our weather, that will be around November. Anyway, we really like these homemade cookies. I wish I knew how close they were to the original, but I tried another variation yesterday and it wasn’t nearly as good as King Arthur’s.

Sue July 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm

How did they go over at the party you took them to? BTW, I’m getting an odd message asking me to sign in with a password. I’ve been simply closing the box and ignoring it, but I’m wondering about what it means.

Janice July 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Leave it to CM to knock me out of kitchen lethargy!!!
Loved the post on Sara Moulton’s veggie burgers; I’ve been eating them all week!!

Mary DeBar October 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm

I lived in the B’more area for over 40 years. I tried the King Arthur version and they are nothing like the real Berger cookie. The real cookie has a drier base [as a previous poster said, really just a vehicle to support the frosting]. The frosting on the real thing is fudgier but still soft.

Anna October 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Hi Mary, thanks for the info!

Carl Greene November 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm

I spent my 1st 25 years in Baltimore relishing this cookie, so I have to agree with Mary DeBar, the King Arthur is too cakey, while the real Berger is more like the texture of a madelliene cookie…kinda shortbreadish, just sayin’

Rick J February 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Hi Anna, hope you finally ordered your own original fabulous Berger Cookies. Currently production and web sales of Berger Cookies has been disrupted. There are conflicting causes (ranging from family illness to the warehouse roof collapsing). The last delivery went out to stores 1/31. Many places have depleted their supply and are anxiously awaiting a new shipment. Otterbein’s, another local B-more cookie treasure, has seen an uptick in sales of their cookie facsimile…….but it is not a BERGER.
Agreeing with the previous two commenters and being a native Baltimoron with my first forty years there, the Berger cookie portion is definitely more shortbread-like/denser than the KA version (which is also a fine cookie). Please email me at my posted address if you still have not oredered your own and I (from one cookie lover to another) will gladly send you a few boxes of your own (you can order them through the website but you will pay much more in shipping costs).
My wife makes an orange shortbread cookie with orange icing that is incredibly delicious and, in my opinion, unique. I have tasted others but have found none that have the same taste and consistency/texture. Cheers.

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