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Food & Drink

Berger cookies run low on shelves around Baltimore as iconic baker waits for repair

How long must we endure?

Baltimore is living through a shortage of its favorite treat — the iconic, fudge-topped Berger cookies — due to a breakdown of kitchen equipment. And baking isn’t expected to resume until at least Aug. 25.

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A notice on the company’s website on Friday reads:

“We are currently having equipment issues and unable to produce cookies. This is a temporary situation and we hope to be in production with minimal down time. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

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Whether a week without Baltimore’s most well-known cookie is a mere “inconvenience” is debatable. For some, it borders on an emergency.

The shortage is unfortunately occurring at a time when Baltimore needs Berger cookies the most — in the long days after summer vacation and right before the start of a new school year.

A call to the cookie maker’s headquarters reveals that the company is apparently fielding inquiries from a great many worried consumers, since employee Shaylon Kaye, who was on the order line, was answering questions even before a reporter had time to ask them.

”No cookies are being baked right now,“ Kaye said. “None. Whatever is on the shelves at the grocery store is all that is left. We’ll restock as soon as possible.”

Signs of sugar withdrawal have already begun appearing at Baltimore-area grocers.

Carl Trudel, a customer service representative at Eddie’s of Roland Park at 6213 N. Charles St., said that a lot of customers have called asking if the upscale grocer had any packages of the treats left.

”People are saying they can’t find them anywhere,” Trudel said. “My store manager said he hasn’t gotten an order delivered in more than two weeks.”

For Baltimoreans with a sweet tooth, the shelves can’t be restocked soon enough.

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Until then, cookie fans can always try to make their own version with this favorite recipe from a Parkville reader that was submitted to The Baltimore Sun’s holiday cookie contest in 2007.

The Berger cookie, a sugar wafer hand-frosted with a decadent blob of fudge icing, has been produced in Baltimore since the 19th century and has acquired regional cult status.

Suzanne Laubheimer’s Version of the Famous Berger Cookie

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen

Cookies:

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

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3/4 cup granulated sugar (divided use)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

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1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Icing: 3 cups chocolate chips

Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and salt in a bowl until well blended. Add egg and vanilla.

Beat until light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking soda and cream of tartar and stir into creamed mixture. Chill about 2 hours.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

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Press to flatten with a glass buttered on the bottom and dipped in remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Rebutter if necessary and dip in sugar each time.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown on the edge.

When cookies are cool, melt chocolate chips in a small, heavy-duty saucepan over lowest heat possible; stir. When chips begin to melt, remove from heat and stir. Return to heat for a few seconds at a time, stirring until smooth, then ice cookies.

Note: Don’t make cookies on a damp, rainy day because it takes too long for icing to set.

Per cookie: 117 calories, 1 gram protein, 6 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 14 grams carbohydrate, trace fiber, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 26 milligrams sodium


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