Sunday, May 11, 2014

Berger Cookies...My Mom's Favorite Cookie!

Mother's Day is a tough day this year because my mom passed away in August.  Normally on this day we would talk on the phone and I would send her a card, flowers (usually tulips) and a box of cookies...she had a sweet tooth...especially for Berger Cookies, a local Baltimore favorite.  So in memory of my mom today I decided to make homemade Berger cookies which are unlike any other cookie in the universe!  They are a cake-like vanilla cookie covered with chocolate-fudge ganache.  The cookie to ganache ratio should be 50-50, so don't skimp on the chocolate!

In addition to Berger Cookies, Baltimore is known also for Old Bay Seasoning and steamed crabs, UTZ Potato Chips (puts Lays to shame) and Natty Boh (National Bohemian) Beer.  My mom could care less for the beer (she preferred wine), but she loved Old Bay Seasoning, UTZ potato chips and of course her Berger Cookies!  My mom was an excellent cook and it was hard deciding what to make in her memory (I could of gone with a savory dish), but I believe that she would be in Berger Heaven after eating these, and I know that she is!

Cookie Base:
Makes about 30 cookies

1 stick Earth Balance Butter
3/4 cup pure organic sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
1 1/2 Tbsp Egg Replacer powder, whisked with water according to package directions (I used Bob's Red Mill, but you could use Energ just want the equivalent of 1 1/2 eggs.  You could also use flax eggs but the cookie will be even more cake like without any crunch.) 
2 1/4 cups organic unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cashew milk (see below)

Cashew Milk:

1/2 cup cashews soaked for 4 hours and drained.  Place in a high-speed blender with 1 1/4 cups filtered water and blend on high for a couple of minutes.  If you don't have a high speed blender then strain milk before using.  You will have enough milk for the cookie as well as the ganache frosting.

Method:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using the standard cookie creaming method, cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer until fluffy, add vanilla extract and the egg replacer mixture and mix until combined.  In another bowl whisk together, flour, salt, and baking powder and add alternating flour and milk to the mixer and only mix until combined.  Line a sheet pan with either parchment paper or a silpat and scoop dough using a teaspoon or a 1-teaspoon ice cream scooper (which is what I used).  Take your fingers and press the dough lightly to flatten.  Bake cookies in the middle of the oven rack for 9-10 minutes (turning halfway through the baking process).  Remove the cookies immediately with a spatula onto a cooling rack and cool completely before icing.

I made my ganache the day before and kept it in the refrigerator so that it would set-up be ready to frost the cookies after they cooled.  Also, my ganache was just a tad soft.  It still set up fine, but it could of been a little firmer.  Perhaps it is because of the cashew cream or because I ran out of chocolate chips.  But here's what I did--if you want it firmer then add a little bit more chocolate.  Also, I don't like using light corn syrup, but this will give the chocolate a glossier finish.

1 1/2 cups good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
3/4 cup cashew cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
1 1/2 cups organic confectioners sugar, shifted

Method:  Cashew Cream and chocolate can easily burn and so I placed the chocolate and cashew cream in a bowl over a pan of slightly simmering water for about a minute until the chocolate melted.  You could also microwave in increments of 25 seconds, stirring in between until chocolate is melted.  Once melted, whisk in melted butter, vanilla extract and stir in powdered sugar and beat with a spatula until creamy and combined.  Chill in the fridge for about 4 hours to chill and harden.  Before icing the cookies, beat the ganache lightly.  You can either hand dip the cookies (the traditional method) or use a small off-set spatula or pipe the ganache with a plain tip, like I did.  Let the icing set for about 30 minutes before eating (if you can wait that long).  My teeth hurt from all the chocolate!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Mother's Day and if you ever get a chance surprise your mom with a batch of homemade Berger Cookies on her special day!



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