Less is more, but sometimes way too much is just right. Thus we honor the humble, homegrown Berger cookie, the true Baltimorean's madeleine. The treat tops--actually, more like overwhelms--a modest, buttery vanilla wafer with what seems like a solid inch of dark, creamy chocolate. The cookie-to-frosting ratio is just absurd; according to Charles DeBaufre, owner of DeBaufre Bakeries, the cookie's sole manufacturer, a whole Berger cookie weighs in at about 1.25 ounces and the wafer weighs only about a quarter of an ounce. This is one snack food that, unless consumed fresh from a freezer, is practically guaranteed to melt in your hands, not to mention your mouth.
According to DeBaufre, the Berger has probably been baked in Baltimore ever since the Berger family landed here from Germany in 1835, recipe in hand. Today the Berger cookie's fame has spread far beyond the Chesapeake basin, as transplanted Baltimoreans order boxes delivered by mail (the cookie has its own Web site for when the e-munchies strike) and Mobtown moms send Bergers off to college with their kids. DeBaufre says the bakery (which is strictly wholesale and mail order, with no retail space) has shipped them as far afield as Switzerland, Venezuela, and Hong Kong. But it's hard to imagine that the Berger cookie is more beloved anywhere than its own hometown, even though we gained a pound just writing about them.