The Berry-licious Bramble

Having come off my 3-days of juicing with a ravenous appetite for all things bad, we ordered take out from the Real Deal in West Roxbury (our absolute favorite sandwich shop) and then went next door to Sugar Bakery for a little dessert. I generally get some kind of cake or pie… but had a hankering for their specialty — and West Roxbury-born confection — The Bramble:

dsc00744 300x225 The Berry licious Bramble

Brambles are cookies filled with a raspberry jam. The crust is light and flakey and I was told by the owner that the recipe is essentially pie crust… so there is no egg in it (for those of you with food allergies). The top of the cookie is encrusted in granulated sugar and adds a nice crunchy texture to them.

dsc00742 300x225 The Berry licious Bramble

I’ve read several comments on Chowhound and Yelp about the orignal Brambles that Hanley’s Bakery carried (which formerly occupied the space that Sugar is now in). Many of the comments say that Sugar’s Brambles aren’t nearly as good as Hanley’s were… but I never had Hanleys and all I can say about Sugar’s version is that they are quite delcious!

The filling is sweet and tart and void of any seeds. This seems to be one complaint that folks have… as it changes the texture. Many folks also commented on the fact that the filling in the newer version isn’t ast “authentic”. Whatever the case, my family loves these cookies and we barely can resist an opportunity to pick up a [baker's] dozen whenever we get take out from the Real Deal.

dsc00743 300x225 The Berry licious Bramble

The other items that we particularly enjoy at Sugar are the Peanut Butter Cookies (which aren’t available very often), the Sicilian Pizza Slices (which are also hardly ever there) and then the plain layer cakes, carrot cake and brownies. Some of the confections are a bit too sweet for me — but this is true of all bakery items. I find that bakerys tend to make pastries too sweet and to intense. I like more subtle desserts most of the time.

Sugar has a large selection of cup cakes as well… and the kids seem to love them. They are a bit over-priced, but really no worse than the “Delux Cupcakes” that Roche Brother’ssellsf ro $3.99 a pop!

On a final note, one funny thing I noticed on the Sugar website is that under the section that lists out all the cookies, cakes, pastries, etc. that they offer… the bramble is not listed! I find this odd, as it was one of the most popular items at Hanley’s Bakery and I was under the impression that they were trying to keep the spirit alive. Interesting…

minilogo The Berry licious Bramble

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)

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21 Comments to “The Berry-licious Bramble”

  1. Martha says:

    I think the brambles are very similar to the old ones….but I didn’t get them too often. I also LOVE their muffins, the blueberry and gingerbread are mouth watering.

  2. [...] time… buying my fill of cookies, cupcakes, cake slices and brambles (to which I recently gave rave reviews). However, if you are going to serve sweets, you need to serve good espresso drinks too. [...]

  3. Richard McLaughlin says:

    My father Francis McLaughlin was a baker in the Boston area for over 50 years, he worked at Hanley’s, among many other bakeries, I was told he was the inventor of the brambel cookie but I can’t substantiate that claim, he made them all the time and we grew up on them, I’ve had “Sugars” version and they aren’t even close to what my father made. He passed away in 1989 and my sister now owns his house in West Roxbury, he still has many recipes lying around but as of yet we haven’t found the one for brambels, maybe because he made them so often he never bothered to write it down, but if I ever do find the recipe I’d bet I could become a millionaire selling his original version.

  4. Liam Sutton says:

    this site is the biggest advert for the real deal ever

  5. Tammy (BFW) says:

    Liam — LOL! It does seem that way, doesn’t it!? Not totally though… I’ve complained about Sugar once too. Had really bad service. The issue is that we go there ALL the time, so of course, I’ve written about them a few times. :)

  6. michelle says:

    i would like the recipe for your raspberry bramble as i need to make them for a christmas gathering i am attending. they used to get the brambles but now one of the people has cancer treatments and is no longer able to get tehm . so i thought it would be a nice treat and surprise them with homeade ones. would you be so kind as to share the recipe with me? thanks in advance.

  7. sue says:

    I have been scouring the internet for Hanley’s recipes to no avail. I grew up with this bakery and am still so very sad that it closed. I have had a few items from Sweets and they just aren’t ANYTHING like the Hanley’s versions. They shouldn’t even bother making the Bramble if what they are trying to do is reproduce them. Just so disappointing.

    To Richard M: I have always wished that the family who owned Hanley’s never made recipes available before it closed (self-published cook-book). If you do have some Hanley’s recipes, would you be willing to share? Most of all, I miss their cake frosting (ESPECIALLY the strawberry cake frosting), the Hermits, Brambles and last but not least…the HALF and HALFS!!!!

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  12. tyson says:


    I am grew up in Newton and we used to get Hanley’s Star-shaped cookies all the time and the cakes, too. They would give the cookies out to us kids for free while my mom was waiting for her order.

    I live in NYC now and can’t seem to find anything as good. I am looking for the recipe for the cookies so any help is appreciated!!

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  14. Marianne McCarthy says:

    This goes out to Richard McLaughlin. I don’t know if you will ever see this, but I hope that you do. I, like Sue, have been searching for Hanley’s recipes. I grew up on Hanley’s bakery food and have never found anything to quite compare. I too remember going there as a child and getting a star sugar cookie while my mom shopped. I had to have a Hanley’s birthday cake every year – my mom even drove on down to me when I was in college. They made my wedding cake and all of my children’s birthdy cakes as well.I’ve probably sampled everything that they made over the years! My family’s favorites were the half & halfs and hermits, but everything was great.I agree with Sue regarding the cake frosting – definitely a favorite, but also loved the texture and flavor of their cakes. Richard, I’d Love any recipe you’re willing to share!! I just wish Hanley’s was still there – birthdays aren’t the same without it. Sugar may have fabulous ratings, but for me it will never compare to Hanley’s!

  15. Cookie says:

    Anyone remember the apricot filled cookies from Hanley’s? They were the best!

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  17. Lauren says:

    I would do almost anything for a hamlets cupcake and star cookie. There is nothing that compares. Sugar has put a lot of work into recreating the bramble and I think they are close but the ratios are a bit off. If ANYONE could get the recipe or knows of somewhere similar I would live to know. I haven’t found frosting like theirs ever. And I miss the witch in the window…

  18. tyson says:

    Hi! I just was checking since my post last year and no one has put up any recipes. :(

    Hanley’s cakes were AMAZING!! And the dinner rolls were to die for. 12 years in NYC and I still can’t find a bakery to replicate the star cookies and cakes of Hanleys!

    Richard McClaughlin: GET THE RECIPES PLEASE!! Thanks!

  19. KG2 says:

    Has anyone tried contacting anyone who was related to the people who owned Hanley’s
    I would think they would want to share and make money on their recipes. Did they sign an agreement that they couldn’t publish the recipes?

  20. KG2 says:

    After reading everyones comments I made my own version of the Bramble cookies this weekend and I must say it came out very close to what I remember. I even used the jam with the seeds. Just make a basic butter & crisco pie crust adding 1/4 cup sugar,chill 30 minutes and then roll it out thin. Cut circles out. Put a the jam in the center put a top cookie on pressing the edges closed and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. The cookies come out the best when rolled less than 1/4 inch. The Crisco is what makes these cookies flakey.

  21. Barbara Ferreira says:

    Sugars bramble doesn’t even come close to hanleys. I think it is pie crust dough, but it is also short which is why they were unique little cookie. Someone please find that recipe!!!

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