Celebrating Baltimore's Culinary Traditions: Berger Cookies

Carrie Murphy

One of my favorite things about our culinary culture in Baltimore is Berger cookies. Like many of us who grew up in and around Charm City, I've enjoyed these cookies for as long as I can remember. They were a special treat in my childhood and continue to be something I enjoy on special occasions. I'm not talking about birthdays or graduations, but if I've had a bad day and I see Berger cookies for sale while I'm in line at the Royal Farms, that little hit of sugar can put me in a better mood faster than you can say "Orioles winning season."

Actually, I recently saw Berger misspelled as "Burger" in a blog post about Maryland. Of course, I just had to comment and correct the blogger. Not only am I a stickler for spelling, but I also get pretty up in arms if anything about my beloved hometown of Baltimore is misrepresented. Berger cookies are German in origin; in 1835, brothers George and Henry Berger immigrated to Baltimore and each opened a bakery in the city. Eventually, after the brothers passed away, their respective sons merged the businesses and created Berger's Bakery. That business changed hands a few times until it eventually became DeBaufre Bakery, the company that makes the cookies today.

What makes the cookies so irresistible? For me, it's the unapologetic amount of chocolate used. The chocolate on Berger cookies overflows and sometimes even gets stuck to the bottom of the cookie. The white wafer cookie part, while delicious in and of itself, makes no bones about what its role in a Berger cookie is: to act as a vessel for loads of chocolate-y goodness.

And the delicious fudgey cookies we know and love consist of just a few simple ingredients: sugar, flour, water, sugar, cocoa, margarine, eggs and corn syrup. All Berger cookies are produced in the Baltimore bakery, located on Waterview Avenue. Did you know that you can order Berger cookie apparel (hats and tshirts!) directly from DeBaufre Bakery on their website? I would certainly rock one of the t-shirts, which is emblazoned with a picture of a box of cookies and the words "A Baltimore Classic" across the back. 

In February, the iconic company announced they would begin offering a limited-edition run of new flavors: lemon, strawberry, and rum. Apparently these flavors were around in the 1970s and, for upwards of 30 years, cookie lovers were asking when they'd be available again. Less than 1000 boxes were made of each new/old flavor. I wasn't lucky enough to get my hands on a box, but I would love to know how the sweets stood up the the classic chocolate ganache. Coincidentally, one of the most popular pies at Baltimore piehouse Dangerously Delicious is the Baltimore Bomb, which incorporates Berger cookies into its rich and decadent filling.

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