Years ago I asked a friend from Maryland if she'd ever heard of her state's famous cookie, the Berger Cookie. She hadn't! This was a surprise, because I was hoping she could give me the lowdown how these famous Maryland cookies came to be. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I had to research it myself.
Over the years I'd heard Berger Cookies described as thick sugar cookies topped with a generous layer of chocolate fudge icing. While they are known throughout Maryland, they are mostly famous in Baltimore where they originated. Created in 1835 by German immigrants George and Henry Berger, Berger Cookies can now 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.
King Arthur's Berger Cookie Recipe
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 of the famous Maryland cookies, and I went with version 2. Update: Seems now there is only one version! They've combined the two versions. The picture below shows the old version. The first picture in the post is the new version.
Thoughts From The First Round
Overall, the cookies are good. The base is a cakey vanilla cookie similar to that of a Black & White, while the topping is a soft, rich and sweet icing. I used extra dark chips rather than semisweet to curb the sweetness a bit, and I was careful to weigh and sift the confectioners' 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 Cookies Recipe
As for 2023, the King Arthur recipe has been updated. It's a good one! I've put an adapted version below with my changes in the icing. I was out of corn syrup and had to use maple syrup. It worked beautifully.
Homemade "Clone" of Berger Cookies
- 5 ⅓ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (74 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, King Arthur's is recommended
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup granulated sugar (99 grams)
- 1 large egg, bring to room temperature
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (KA says unbleached) (180 grams) -- Go by weight.
- ⅓ cup whole milk (74 grams)
Chocolate Fudge Icing
- 2 cups dark or semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted as per the directions (170 grams)
- 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup (30 grams)
- ¾ cup heavy cream, best quality
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Beat softened butter, salt, vanilla and baking powder in a bowl, then beat in the sugar and egg. The way I've been doing it is beating just until fully blended rather than beating in a lot of air. I don't want the base cookie to be too light and cakey, so less beating.
- Add the flour and the milk alternately, stirring with a silicone scraper or wooden spoon, until you have a thick but scoopable batter. It should be pretty sticky.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Using a tablespoon or a scoop around that size, scoop 20 rounds of dough.
- Transfer 10 of the dough balls to a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing 2 ½ inches part. Dampen your fingers or the back of a utensil of some sort with water and press the tops down slightly. Try to make the unbaked dough rounds neat.
- Bake at 400 for 10 to 11 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Make the icing as the cookies cool. You can ice them while they are slightly warm or you can wait until they are cool.
- For the icing, before you do anything else, sift about 1 ½ cups of confectioners' sugar and weigh out 170 grams. Mix with the salt.
- Put the chocolate chips, heavy cream and maple syrup in a microwave-safe mixing bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds or 50% power if you have a very high powered microwave. Stir and repeat until very hot, then stir until melted and smooth. Add the vanilla, then gradually add the confectioners sugar, salt mixture, beating until smooth. It will be a fairly loose, but will thicken as it cools.
- Dip the bottom of the cookies in the icing and set icing side up on parchment to set. I like to do this but hold some of the icing back, and spoon on more as it thickens so that it piles better.
- You can eat these right away, but they seem to be a little better after the fudge topping has fully set.