I discovered the thin-wafer Moravian Cookies long ago while attending the exhibits at the Fancy Food show (an event of The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade). I liked what I found and would often serve those thin wafers as an accent atop a fruit, sorbet or ice cream dessert.
I immediately fell for this company’s wafers dipped in chocolate, but it was love at first bite with these new ones. They aren’t just dipped – instead these cookies are enrobed completely in the delicious mint chocolate. And one of these indulgences sets you back only 50 calories.
Bryan: We’re talking about the Salem Baking Co. today. Salem Baking produces a variety of desserts and baked goods, but they are known for their Moravian cookies. “Okay, great. What are those?” I asked myself. A brief, but thorough investigation (God, the Internet is amazing, isn’t it?) into the matter led me to find a wonderful food story, so, I felt I must share a (brief) synopsis of this delectable cookie’s history.
But first… the cookie. It is freaking good! Though Salem Baking makes a number of flavors of Moravian cookies (mint, ginger, lemon, etc), we’re discussing the mint, enrobed in silky chocolate. I immediately wanted to scoop the perfect scoop of vanilla ice cream into a dish, and plunk one of these enticing wafer discs right into its side.
Crispy in texture, smoothed out with a rich chocolate coating…. The mint is present, but not the star, staying in balance (unlike so many mint desserts!) with the cookie and the chocolate. Delicious! And a serving size is three cookies, so enjoy a few. I’ve taken to spooning a bit of chocolate ice cream (and even peanut butter!) between two, as a sandwich… A winner.
The story behind the Moravian Cookie…
In the U.S., Moravian spice cookies date back to Colonial American communities, populated by Moravian religious settlers in North Carolina in the 1700s. The cookies stem from further back though, originally emanating from in the ancient kingdom of Moravia (located in what is now the Czech Republic). As explorers returned home from travels abroad, exotic, newly discovered ingredients were introduced, creating new culinary traditions. Allspice, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar cane became prized flavors all across Europe.
The special cookie was born from a blend of these coveted spices with another highly valued ingredient. Syrup flowed from sugar cane during long sea journeys from the New World, settling at the bottom of wooden barrels. Though initially discarded, the incredibly distinct flavor of the gooey runoff was finally discovered: Molasses! Eureka!
The resulting Moravian Cookies were the baking attempt to emulate the thin molasses discs removed from the bottom of the sugar cane storage bins. The cookies are made from rolling dough paper-thin and baking very slowly, creating a wonderfully crisp texture that intensely captures the flavors of the mixed-in spices.
The “World’s Thinnest Cookie” continues to be made in the New World, taken from traditions born in the Old World, from ingredients taken from the New World. Food lives on and adapts in wonderful ways.
Eric: My cookie of choice has always been the Pepperidge Farm Brussels. It has the perfect ratio of crunch to chocolate, and the flavor of the cookie dough has subtle sweetness that dances over the palette (as you can tell, I enjoy my cookies). When I took the first bite of the chocolate-enrobed Mint Moravian cookie, in my mind, it was as if the Brussels cookie and the Girl Scouts’ Thin Mints had a cookie offspring.
For a full history of the cookies’ adventures through time, simply scroll up and read my brother’s post. The Moravian represents one of the simpler approaches to cookies — wafer thin and lightly flavored — but the taste seems anything but simple. The Salem Baking Co. does offer a variety of options (Key Lime, Cranberry Orange, Pumpkin Spice among others), but nothing stands close to their chocolate dipped cookies.