Compared to the sprinkled, spangled, drizzled cookies that have taken over bakery cases and social media, Heidi Riegler’s efforts are distinctly plain. But there are no better cookies for sale on Long Island, and very few home-baked ones can compete.
Riegler is the chef-owner (and treasurer-secretary) of Vienna Cookie Company in Baldwin. She reproduces the traditional sweets of her Austrian childhood in a small kitchen a few blocks from her home. On Saturdays she opens to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; the cookies are also available through her website. (A 6-ounce bag is $7, 20-piece assortment is $25, 48-piece assortment is $40; prices higher on website.)
Riegler makes her Linzer cookies with ground almonds, plenty of butter and seasonings. Tradition dictates two of the fillings, imported raspberry jam and apricot marmalade, but a third Linzer gets a genius twist: lemon curd.
During the summer, Riegler set up shop at farmers markets in Garden City, Roslyn, Seaford and Huntington. “People ‘got’ the Linzer cookies immediately,” she said. “For the other cookies, I’d give out samples because they don’t necessarily look like much.”
The plainest cookies became the biggest hit. She calls them “chocolate kisses” because the literal translation of “sandbusserln” is “sandy kisses.” Chocolate, butter and hazelnuts conspire to make a tender, melting bite — like a shy chocolate truffle. The scallop-edged butter cookies, iced with a border of white dots, make a fine counterpoint.
“Vanilla cookie” hardly does justice to either of her little buttery, hazelnut orbs. The ones rolled in powdered sugar are very similar to Greek kourabiedes (or Mexican wedding cakes or Russian tea cakes) but more delicate; the ones dipped in Belgian chocolate are now my favorite cookie.
Riegler’s assortments are packed in silver boxes adorned with a label inspired by the Wiener Werkstätte, Vienna’s fin-de-siècle design movement that prized the handmade over the mass-produced, and simplicity over ornamentation. As does Vienna Cookie Company.
782 Merrick Rd., Baldwin; 516-665-1710, viennacookiecompany.com