Vienna Cookie Company

Cookies: one of the backbones of all bakers’ culinary portfolios. There’s nothing more exciting than biting into a well-baked cookie — whether it be an immediate explosion of flavors or a soft and subtle development. “Cookie”might as well be a word known internationally, across all languages. In America, we associate “cookies” with chocolate chips, peanut butter, and other ‘All-American’ ingredients. For Heidi Riegler, the word “cookie” harkens back to her Austrian childhood, bringing back memories of her mother baking thousands of holiday cookies. Her youthful immersion in the Austrian baking culture, where people get particularly competitive with their baking prowess, influenced her to begin Vienna Cookie Company.

Riegler learned how to bake from her mother, using recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation within the family. The idea behind Vienna Cookie Company came when Riegler and her mother baked over 3000 cookies for Riegler’s own wedding. When guests gushed over the wonderful cookies, Riegler realized that she could make a business out of her baking skills. The company and its products are influenced by its Austrian heritage; since Austria was once the Austrian Hungarian Empire, Italian, Hungarian, Polish, and Balkan culinary traditions all also play a role in these simple cookies.  Even the royal bakery, the Hofzuckerbäckerie, created recipes for the royal family, which leads to the baking culture in Austria today. As Riegler describes it,“I believe baking is very much integrated into the culture.  I think more people bake just for fun and the recipes are very sophisticated.”

Viennese cookies differ from American cookies in that they are much smaller and more delicate, with less butter and flour. Nuts like hazelnuts and almonds are also incorporated more widely in Viennese cookies. Quality takes precedence, rather than quantity. Vienna Cookie Company takes long-standing family recipes and adds a slight twist: variations of jams are added to the Linzer cookies, new flavors are infused into the Viennese chocolate kisses, and the vanilla crescents cookies are dunked in chocolate rather than rolled in sugar.

Even the packaging design for Vienna Cookie Company, a nod to Austria’s cultural heritage with it’s references to famous Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s work, shows off all of the dedication and thought Riegler put into her company. There’s a cookie for everybody, Riegler says. “It depends, if you love chocolate, then I would see the Viennese Chocolate Kisses, if you like a fruity cookie, then the Linzer, if you like nuts and butter, then the Crescent cookies.”