Baltimore’s Finest: The Sequel

So, one blog and some 3 dozen comments later, Baltimore’s finest cookie—the Berger Cookie—has resurfaced in a new incarnation. Like the REAL Berger cookie (can you pick it out in the photo above?), our new version is smaller, and spread with frosting that’s closer to the original and heaped even higher. This is my final take on these cookies—I promise!

First, I want to thank reader Ann Dahne for sending me two packages of real Baltimore Berger Cookies. They’ve been an invaluable aid in my continuing research.

I broke them into little bits, and the King Arthur Web group—Halley, Jim, Tracy, Janet, and I—all taste-tested. YUM was the consensus. So YUM was my new goal.

I started by reducing the size of the cookies to about 2 1/4”. To do this, I cut the recipe to 1/3 its original; it now yields 28 smaller cookies, which is plenty.

To make the perfect-size cookies, I used a teaspoon cookie scoop…

…and flattened the cookies to about 1 1/2” across.

The new icing adds vanilla and confectioners’ sugar; subtracts butter; and substitutes chocolate chips for the unsweetened chocolate in the original. But other than that, it’s prepared in the same way: everything except the sugar heated together; stirred till smooth; and the sugar beaten in at the end. The one main difference: the frosting on Berger’s original cookies tastes EXACTLY like the frosting on Hostess cupcakes. I haven’t figured out how to duplicate that distinctive “snack cake” flavor. Mine is more chocolate-y. Sorry, folks!

Another key change: cooled cookies have their BOTTOMS dipped in the frosting, rather than spreading it on top.

Yes, it’s a messy process. Use a pair of tongs if you like, but it’s SO SO SO much easier to use your fingers.

Once all the cookies have been dipped, dollop the remaining frosting on top, spreading it evenly.

See the “real” Berger Cookie here? A wolf in sheep’s clothing, eh?

Which is which? Original Berger on the left; our version on the right. Pretty good, huh?

Enjoy our revised Baltimore Berger Cookie recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. JJ

    Do you think if you used some Dark chocolate cocoa aka black cocoa powder it would help with the taste of the icing?

  2. PJ Hamel, post author

    JJ, the frosting tastes fine as is – deeply chocolate-y. It’s simply missing the distinctive (not chocolate-y) kind of sugary, “artificial” taste you’ll taste in snack cake frosting, e.g., Hostess cupcakes, or in bottled chocolate syrup.

  3. Barbara

    I always thought that “fake” chocolate flavor in commercial cupcake icing and in chocolate syrup was due to their use of cocoa/confectioners’ sugar instead of using chocolate. And I think using imitation vanilla contributes to the fake flavor as well.

  4. Bonnie


    I grew up just outside Baltimore, and my folks still live there. My mom works about a block away from Lexington Market, where the Berger Bakery has a shop & they sell the authentic Berger cookies – the package you showed a photo of is NOT the Berger Bakery package. They may be labeled “Berger,” and they may be from a bakery in “Balmer,” but those are copycats.

    While the photos of the cookies themselves look close to the real thing, I have to say that your description of the taste of the icing doesn’t match my experience of the “real thing” – it’s always tasted more like fudge to me than like icing.

  5. Bonnie


    Sorry, I accidentally hit “Submit” before I was finished talking – kudos to you for working so hard on this recipe & for taking all our flak with a smile!

    (And just so there’s no confusion, I’m a different Bonnie from the Bonnie Kohl who posted on the last Berger cookie discussion! The first & last time I posted was to the Home Ec thread . . . )

  6. Margy

    They have a website:
    It includes a history of the bakery and cookie, and the cookies can be ordered on-line (in case you want to do your own taste test comparison with the homemade version). Even though I have ready access to the commercial cookie, I am going to try your homemade version. Just remember, the cookie part of a true Berger cookie is merely a vehicle to carry the fudge on top!

  7. Ann Dahne

    I assure you that the cookies pictured are the genuine article. Berger has been offering 2-packs of their cookies for about two years, primarily at convenience stores. They are the real thing, just in a portion control wrapper. The more common package, a 15-ounce mound of cookies, can ruin a diet faster than nearly anything else I can think of. As PJ said, “Yum.”

    It’s interesting that Bonnie mentioned that the frosting is fudge-like, since the main ingredients on the label are “Sugar, Flour, Water, Fudge.”

    Thanks to PJ for a great detective job! I’m sure her cookies will taste at least as good as they look.

  8. Bonnie

    Umm . . . I think I owe Ann Dahne an apology – I didn’t mean to offend! I’m familiar with the cookies as bought fresh from the bakery or in the larger package, which sometimes shows up at my parent’s house during the holidays. (And thank goodness, only then, since you’re certainly correct about their diet-ruining properties.)

    So please forgive my big mouth (good for sticking feet into, as well as cookies)! You were terrific to send PJ the cookies in the first place, and your generosity deserves praise, not denunciation.

  9. PJ Hamel, post author

    Bonnie, no problem! This is obviously a subject that invokes a lot of passion – and FUN. I’m happy for all input – As for the taste of the frosting, try this: buy a pack of hostess cupcakes,and scrape the frosting on one into a wad (now, isn’t THAT an attractive mental picture!), and taste – this is what the Berger cookie frosting tasted like to me, as opposed to mine.
    And anyway, I thought of another thing to try – what about if you spread the just-prepared frosting in a pan (9″ x 13″? 12″ round?) and nestled the cookies in it, bottom down? Then, once the frosting had set, just cut around the cookies and lift them up and out. Heck, you could even use a round cutter to be fancy…

  10. Bonnie

    Oh, my . . . PJ, I’m pretty sure that homemade Berger serving suggestion should be illegal in any state where swimsuits are worn! Mind you, that applies to Berger cookies in general, so I’ll settle for drooling into my keyboard.

  11. PJ Hamel, post author

    Well, Bonnie, that’s why living in Vermont is helpful -it’s winter 11 months of the year, and the 12th month I barely let go of my down and fleece, let alone put on a swimsuit!

  12. Annette

    PJ–What do you think about using bittersweet chocolate (two 6-oz bars) instead of the 12-oz of chocolate chips? Wouldn’t bittersweet chocolate give more of a chocolate flavor to the frosting?

  13. PJ Hamel, post author

    Annette, sure, go ahead and use the bittersweet chocolate.It would definitely “deepen”the flavor of the frosting. I was trying to match the original Berger flavor, which actually isn’t that deep-dark;more a mild, sweet chocolate. Darn, now I want to make them again!

  14. Michael Russell

    I am the grandson of Harry Russell, who bought the company from Mr. Berger. My uncle owned it after my grandfather retired and in due time sold it to the DeBaufries who have done a splendid job keeping the tradition of great baking going.
    So I was disappointed that this recipe did not even closely approximate a Berger’s cookie, The cookie part was fine, a little too much vanilla perhaps, but the icing was nowhere near the taste of that of a Berger cookie. I doubt the original recipe began with chocolate chips. But I think the main problem is that the “icing” is not really icing as in a black and white, it is fudge which is why it is so firm and sturdy on the cookie base. That may be the intention of your recipe, but if so the directions need to be more explicit in how to produce it as a fudge topping and not an icing toping.
    The 1 tsp dollops for the cookies are a little to small, I’d encourage people to go bigger by half. Your recipe has inspured em though to figure out the fudge topping, when I get it right, I ‘ll send it. OF course you could get a box of the cookies and eat one then tweak teh recipe, then eat another andtweak it again… but that would be decadent! *s*

    1. Anton Ego

      To Michael Russell’s posting….

      One can only chuckle…. it’s great that you are a long lost relative of the Berger’s dynasty, however, you are really clueless in light of that and in your quest to try to make a recipe of this. And so, you really have no business making any type of critiques.
      Let me burst the bubble for you…there is no ‘great baking tradition’ going on at Berger’s. They bake the cookie but don’t cook or make any fudge or the frosting components at all; rather it’s a commercial Fudge Base mixed with a couple of other commercial ingredients, which if you did any research at all or simply decode the Ingredients you might figure this out. So every homemaker out there trying to emulate this cookie and taste profile cannot do it unless you use these commercially produced bases loaded with Trans Fats and PHO junk foods. Now with this knowledge, you can try to enhance their product using real ingredients ( chocolate, butter etc) but to try to replicate theirs with real ingedients is inherently pointless.
      I won’t go so far as to explain Everything how to do it, their ingredients and process because its too much fun listening to all this silliness.

  15. Michael Russell

    One more thing…. the website recipe does not include in the icing making directions the fact that you hold back the confectioner’s sugar and beat it in last as described on this blog. In fact the confectioner’s sugar disappears from both version 1 and 2 recipes. I would not have known to do that had I not read the blog….


  16. Debbie

    Help! The second recipe does not say at which temperature we should bake the cookies. I am in the process of making them now. Please advise! Thanks so much!!

  17. PJ Hamel, post author

    Debbie – Bake the cookies at the same temperature as in the first recipe, 400°F.

    Mike, thanks for your input. I’ve fixed the online recipe to include the confectioners’ sugar in the directions. And, in fact, I DID have a couple of packages of Berger Cookies to compare to – the consistency of the frosting I made is nearly identical, it’s the taste I can’t quite seem to mimic – that Hostess Cupcake-type flavor. So if you can come up with a recipe – yeah, bring it on! The saga will continue…

  18. Gail

    Tried the Berger cookies yesterday and what a treat! We always look forward to buying these when we are in Maryland.

  19. Debbie

    Oops! I was not looking at the blog and I DID miss the confectioner’s sugar (completely left it out all together!) No wonder my frosting was richer and did not firm up as much as I expected it to based on the photos! And PJ, you are right. I don’t know if it is possible to duplicate the flavor of Berger cookie frosting – they are quite unique. I am living in MA now but am a Baltimore native and my mom still sends me Berger cookies in the mail every once in awhile! I ALWAYS bake from scratch and generally NEVER buy cookies, but these are an exception! Thanks for all your efforts, and if you ever figure out the secret to the frosting, please share!! 🙂

  20. Judy

    I made these cookies for a friend’s grand opening (new photography studio). I didn’t like them — too much frosting, too sweet for me. I would like them better if they had less frosting, no powdered sugar in the frosting. But I was amazed that out of all the cookies I sent (5 different kinds), these are the ones everyone reached for and raved over. I am outvoted! These will be on my list of cookies that please people from now on.

  21. Judy

    After listening to the rave reviews for this cookie, I decided to try one again. I took one out of the freezer and let it stand at room temp for about 15 minutes. Then I tasted it. Wow! So much better than when freshly baked. I think they need to set to allow the icing to really set up and solidify. These were so good, I could have easily eaten 10 of them. Thanks so much for a wonderful recipe.

    Judy, I agree – I thought these were much better the second and third days. I didn’t freeze any, but I imagine the freezer does the same thing. Somehow, the cookie softens a bit, the icing sets a bit more… they just mellow with age, I guess (don’t we all!) – PJH

  22. Erik

    I tried this recipe out. They were good the first day, but much better on days 2 and 3. That icing is definetly the key here. I like the puffy cookie base too – I’m going to use that for a few other recipes I have in mind. I wrote a post about it on my blog if you want to check out my results. Thanks for taking the time to post this recipe, it’s great and they disappeared quickly. BTW, did Michael come up with a ‘fudgy’ recipe to top these cookies with?

  23. Linda

    I was in Baltimore this weekend so I went to Lexington Market and walked the aisles until I found Bergers. It was hard to find but well worth the effort. My family devoured the first pound that I bought. I went back for more so that we could enjoy some at home. At $4.29 a pound I thought they were a bargain (about 9 cookies in a pound) considering what I have paid for fine cookies elsewhere that were not enjoyed as much. If not for this blog, I would never have known. My husband and children loved the taste of the chocolate fudge layer. Me, not so much. Now I have to make the recipe and see if they notice a difference – or, maybe I will like them more which really would not be such a good thing.

  24. Jeanne

    I have an energy bar business and try to eat healthy foods, but being a Baltimorean, now living in Vermont, I can’t give up my Berger’s cookies! We buy them every time we return to Baltimore, and the only thing I now miss is getting them in Lee’s Ice Cream at the Harbor!

    So glad I found this site! I’ll be baking tomorrow, and buying Berger’s next month in Baltimore! I’ve even found them at BJ’s in Columbia for those who want to stock their freezers!

  25. Jeanne

    Just printed out the recipe. Realized that version 1 still does not have confectioners sugar in the icing. Should it be there? Will be making them this afternoon and figuring it out…

    Jeanne, you’re right, version 1 doesn’t have confectioners’ sugar. That’s one of the reasons there’s a version 2. I happen to think version 2 is closer to the original, but version 1 is awfully tasty… take your pick. And have fun! – PJH

  26. Jeanne

    Just had a bake-off! A friend made one version and my son made the other! Then we compared cookies and icings, switching and combining. The verdict on day 1 was cookie version 1 with frosting version 2; however, on day 2, the frosting on version 1 was way too dark for all of us, and we had friends in for a taste test. We even added confectioner’s sugar to the icing to increase the sweetness, as well as vanilla. That did help.

    On day 2, however, things did change. The cookie seemed to make less of a difference, although we still prefer version 1, because it has more of a vanilla taste. It was important to make them very small, though. And, I found that I actually preferred the darker icing on the second day. They also seemed much more like Berger cookies on the second day than on the first.

    So, you’re choice. Lots of fun. Just enjoy!

    Thanks for the input, Jeanne. I noticed how much the cookies change from day 1 to day 2 – pretty amazing. Ah, experiments are such fun! PJH

  27. Jeanne

    Just had a bake-off! A friend made one version and my son made the other! Then we compared cookies and icings, switching and combining. The verdict on day 1 was cookie version 1 with frosting version 2; however, on day 2, the frosting on version 1 was way too dark for all of us, and we had friends in for a taste test. We even added confectioner’s sugar to the icing to increase the sweetness, as well as vanilla. That did help.

    On day 2, however, things did change. The cookie seemed to make less of a difference, although we still prefer version 1, because it has more of a vanilla taste. It was important to make them very small, though. And, I found that I actually preferred the darker icing on the second day. They also seemed much more like Berger cookies on the second day than on the first.

    So, you’re choice. Lots of fun. Just enjoy!

  28. Allie

    I’ve never had a Berger cookies, but they look great. In fact, they look like the fudge fancies I had growing up in upstate NY. Have you had a fudge fancy before, and if so, are these similar? Thanks!

    Sorry, Allie, never had a “fudge fancy,” but they sure sound good! PJH

  29. terri

    Where can I find the recipe!!!!! If you click on the underlined words “Baltimore’s finest” at the end of the blog, it will take you to the recipe. have fun with it. mary@KAF

  30. Nadav

    Is there a way to use non-fattning ingredients to duplicate these?? While 140 calories is alot, i tend to eat half of the cookie and put the other half away for later..

    Surely it can be done.. has anyone made a fat-free nutricious berger type cookie?

    Nadav, I regret to say that making this cookie fat-free would mean it’s no longer a Berger cookie. There are books that focus on fat-free cooking and baking; perhaps your library would have some you could reference. In the meantime, please try our extremely low-fat (and gluten-free) Flourless Fudge Cookies – I think you’ll really enjoy them. You’ll also enjoy our Basic Whole Grain Cookies, and our Sparkling Cranberry Gems, both of which are full of fiber and, in the case of the cranberry cookies, lower sugar.
    Cheers! PJH

  31. Nadav

    Topic revisted from July 23rd.. Ok, although I have SEVERELY restricted my eating habits to not include really any sweets, I still have a love for berger cookies.. So, what I did was purchase a package of them but instead of EATING one cookie.. I decided to be clever. I took all the cookies and cut them into 4 small slices.. I calculated the total caloric intake per cookie at: 140(a whole cookie) and once I cut them into 4 slices.. 1 slice is now 35 calories and everything else, sugar, calories from fat has been DRASTICALLY reduced.. Can someone here tell me by cutting the single cookie into 4 slices.. am I really cutting the calories and fat + other stuff out? I would only eat one slice PER WEEK.. THATS IT..

    In other words.. at the end of each week Friday, I made it my day to just have one slice of the cookie every Friday.. By the time I finish eating all the cookies.. it would be 12 months from now or less..

    Yes, it’s simple arithmetic – if you only eat 1/4 of something, you’re only ingesting 1/4 of everything that’s in it (assuming you cut a 1/4 that’s perfectly equal to the other pieces). Good luck with your diet – PJH


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