Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Baltimore Berger Cookies



Back while I was still living in the UK one of my friends brought us some Berger cookies from her hometown of Baltimore.  Like most of the rest of the world, I had never heard of these cookies.  According to wikipedia, they were developed by a baker in Baltimore in the 1850s, adapted from a German recipe.  The base is similar to that of the black and white cookie, aka a soft boring sugar cookie.  But then that simple white cookie is piled high with a fudge like chocolate frosting and that is what makes this cookie shine.  My friend from Baltimore tells me the goal when making them at home should be to have as high a ratio of chocolate to cookie as possible.  I usually aim for 1:1, before the chocolate looks about to topple off the cookie base.

I think I've finally perfected the chocolate fudge topping, now that a few people from Baltimore have tasted them and said they are better than the original.  I shipped some this week to the friend who introduced them to me, and she wrote back that "they taste like friendship and home."  For a blog that is all about comfort food and baking away from home, that seemed like a pretty perfect endorsement (at least for those from Baltimore).




Berger cookies
Adapted from King arthur flour
Makes about 1.5 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1/3 cup/76 grams unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup milk

Icing:
226 grams/8 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate broken or chopped into small pieces (Or your favorite type of chocolate)
3/4 cup (6 ounces) heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar sifted
2 teaspoons corn flour/corn starch

Make the cookies:
Preheat oven to 400 f/200c
  1. Beat together butter, salt, vanilla and baking powder.  Beat in the sugar, then the egg.
  2. Alternate adding in the flour with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.
  3. Drop golf ball sized drops of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets.  Try to flatten the mounds with wet fingers.  (I sometimes get annoyed and give up on this step..)
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are ever so slightly golden/browning.  Once they are cool enough to touch, cool them upside down on a wire rack.
Make the frosting:
  1. Place the chocolate and heavy cream in a medium bowl, and microwave in 30 second increments stirring in between until almost melted.  Stir well until smooth.  Mix in the vanilla
  2. Mix in the corn starch and sifted powdered sugar (don't skip sifting, or you'll have a lumpy frosting)
  3. Let cool on the counter until its stiff enough to hold its shape (this can take up to an hour).
  4. Pile a large blob of chocolate on the bottom of each cookie (ie the cookies are upside down).  If you think you've put on too much chocolate, add a little bit more.  Use a knife and smooth the chocolate out to the edges of the cookie, so its a dome of chocolate.  We are aiming for a ratio of 1:1 chocolate to cookie.  If your chocolate is dripping off the edges, then give it some more time to cool in the bowl, before doing the rest of them.
  5. Let them cool at room temperature overnight until the chocolate has settled and is firmish to touch (don't worry, they stop being messy once they set!).  Store in an air tight container.  They keep well for a few days!

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