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Berger Cookies are thick, soft, almost cake-like cookies covered with a thick layer of rich chocolate fudge frosting! These Maryland favorites have been around since the 1800’s when German immigrant Henry Berger brought them to America and started a bakery in East Baltimore.
Baltimore Berger Cookies
I have been having so much fun making some of the most well-known foods from the state of Maryland as part of my American Eats series! I always like to include a dessert to represent each state, but I couldn’t decide between French Silk Pie or these much more local berger cookies that aren’t as well known unless you have spent time in Maryland, so I decided to go ahead and include both!
A berger falls somewhere between a French madeleine, shortbread, and vanilla wafer for its soft, almost crumbly but not quite base that serves the function of supporting an almost absurd layer of chocolate that you can really sink your teeth into. These cookies are actually best the second day when the chocolate fudge (because let’s admit that it’s way more akin to its candy cousin than any actual frosting) has had a chance to set up.
Don’t get me wrong – they are still good when they are fresh and the chocolate is gooey – but it’s the soft, fudgy nature of the chocolate on Day 2 that really makes these special. The chocolate is piled on so thick that it’s a full half-inch tall!
You can even order a pack of 6 bergers to be shipped to your home by the DeFrau bakery that makes them! But when a cookie craving strikes, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do and make a homemade version to satisfy your sweettooth.
One thing I do know from extensive
googling research, is that true berger cookies have rounded bottoms when they are finished. It’s the flat part that actually gets dipped in the chocolate. Dipping them was easier said than done for me, and I resorted to just going back over each cookie and spooning extra chocolate on top to build it up, which worked just fine in the end and gave them a rustic appearance.
These aren’t refined or beautiful in a conventional way, but bergers have a casual, homemade charm to them that is more enticing to me than a carefully decorated dessert anyway. I know you’re going to love them.
- Flour: This provides most of the structure for the cookies. I tested the recipe using regular unbleached all-purpose white flour.
- Sugar: You will use both granulated and powdered sugar in this recipe. The granulated sugar goes into the cookie base, while the powdered sugar is used in the thick chocolate icing. If your powdered sugar has settled or looks lumpy, you might want to sift it first to break up clumps.
- Butter: I always use salted butter in my recipes because it’s what I keep on hand. I’ve tried unsalted occasionally, and honestly never noticed much of a difference until we accidentally grabbed a stick of unsalted butter and used it on toast. Never again.
- Egg: Just one egg acts as a binder that holds the other ingredients together and gives the cookies their texture.
- Milk: I like using whole milk best when baking, but you could even go with lowfat milk if that’s what you have on hand.
- Vanilla: I love using my homemade vanilla extract, especially in vanilla based cookies like these!
- Baking powder: This provides lift and helps the cookies puff up and out and bit for their soft, almost cake-like quality.
- Salt: Gotta balance out the other flavors with a little salt! It keeps the cookies from being overly sweet.
- Chocolate chips: Use good quality semisweet chocolate chips to make the chocolate icing because chocolate will be the predominant flavor in these cookies.
- Corn syrup: This gives a nice sheen to the chocolate and near as I can tell gets the flavor as close to the original as possible.
- Heavy cream: This is one of my very favorite ingredients and I always keep it on hand in the fridge.
How to Make Berger Cookies
- Make the cookie dough: Start by beating the butter, salt, vanilla, and baking powder until smooth. Add in the sugar and beat until creamy and light, then do the same thing with the egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Alternately add flour and milk in 2-3 additions, mixing between each addition just enough so everything gets mixed in, but don’t go overboard mixing here or you can overwork the dough and have tough, dry cookies.
- Scoop and bake: Use a small cookie scoop to drop 1-2 tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. They are going to puff and spread, so space them a couple inches apart. Use wet fingers or run a glass cup under water and use them to slightly squash each ball of dough a little flatter so they make circles roughly 1 1/2-inches across. Bake at 375 degrees F for 9-11 minutes until browned on the bottom but still pale on top with just a bit of browning around the edges.
- Make the chocolate icing: While the cookies cool, combine chocolate chips, corn syrup, and heavy cream in a medium microwave-safe bowl. We are essentially making a ganache where you melt the chocolate and cream in the microwave by heating for 60-90 seconds, stopping every 20 seconds to stir until there are no unmelted lumps of chocolate. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat in the vanilla, powdered sugar, and salt until the icing is nice and smooth. Let the icing cool for a bit before dipping the cookies.
- Here comes the messy (but fun!) part: When the chocolate icing is still warm but thick so it doesn’t just run off the cookie, pick up a cookie and dip the flat bottom into the chocolate, swirling it around a bit, then flipping it over so the chocolate sort of mounds on top. Don’t worry if it’s not a super thick layer of chocolate just yet. After dipping all of the cookies, you will have quite a bit of chocolate icing left over. Grab a spoon and just start spooning it on top of each previously dipped cookie. It’s going to seem like a ridiculous amount of chocolate, but it will set up into a fudge layer that’s insanely delicious.
- Let the chocolate set: The soft, warm chocolate needs to set up for a couple of hours until it is firm (but still soft). Just leave the cookies out on the counter at room temperature until this happens. Then you can transfer the cookies to an airtight container and keep them on the counter for 3-4 days.
Can you freeze berger cookies?
Yes, you can freeze berger cookies so you always have a stash on hand! Freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet for 2-3 hours first, then transfer them to an airtight container or ziploc bag for longer term storage. They will be good for 2-3 months if kept in the freezer. Just thaw on the counter for a few hours before enjoying.
More Cookie Recipes
- Double Chocolate Nutella Sandwich Cookies
- Whoopie Pies (Gobs)
- Chocolate Marshmallow Almond Rocky Road Cookies
- Easy Copycat Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Best Fudgy Chewy Chocolate Brownie Cookies
- Chocolate Chip S’mores Cookies
- 1/3 cup salted butter, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
- Beat butter, salt, vanilla, and baking powder until smooth. Add sugar and beat until creamy. Beat in the egg.
- Add the flour alternately with the milk in 2-3 additions, mixing between each addition just until combined. Do not overmix.
- Use a small cookie scoop to drop about 1 tablespoon of dough onto the parchment paper for each cookie, spacing them 2-3 inches apart so they have room to spread when they bake. Wet your fingers or the bottom of a glass and gently press each cookie to flatten slightly into a circle roughly 1 1/2" in diameter.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes. The cookies are done when they are lightly browned on the bottom but still pale on top, with only the slightest bit of browning around the edges. Don't overbake.
- Make the icing while the cookies cool by heating the chocolate chips, corn syrup, and cream in a medium microwave-safe bowl for 60-90 seconds, stopping every 20 seconds to stir until completely melted. Add the vanilla, powdered sugar, and salt. Beat well using a hand mixer until smooth. Let the icing cool slightly before decorating the cookies. If it is too warm, it will run off the cookies.
- Dip the bottoms of each cookie into the warm icing then place them upside down on the baking sheet and top each cookie with more chocolate icing until it is all used up. It will be a lot of chocolate on each cookie, but it's delicious!
- Let the cookies sit out at room temperature until the icing has set, then transfer the cookies to an airtight container and store on the counter at room temperature for 3-4 days.
- These cookies can also be frozen for 2-3 months. Just thaw on the counter before enjoying.
- Recipe adapted slightly from King Arthur Flour. https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/baltimore-berger-cookies-recipe
Recipe adapted slightly from King Arthur Flour.
Curious about foods from other states in my American Eats series? Check them out below!
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