A Tribute to the Pope, and It Goes Well With Milk

When Anthony Artuso heard the news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation plans on Monday, what else could he do but order up a batch of pope cookies.

“So many people loved these cookies,” Mr. Artuso said, referring to a round cookie bearing the pontiff’s likeness that his family’s bakery in the Bronx made when Benedict visited New York in 2008. “We still get calls asking for them, but we only made them during the pope’s visit.”

Artuso Pastry Shop made the cookie thick and round – five inches in diameter – from the same shortbread dough used for the two-tone bakery classic known as the black-and-white.

“It’s basically the same thing as a black-and-white, but we put the pope’s photo on it,” said Natalie Corridori, a manager at Artuso’s.

Back in 2008, the bakery, on 187th Street in Belmont, made perhaps 500 of them, mostly to sell at Yankee Stadium when the pope celebrated Mass there. (At the time, Artuso’s had a stand at the stadium, selling cookies during home games with players’ faces on them.)

“They sold out almost immediately — they sold like hot cakes,” Ms. Corridori said.

In fact, Mr. Artuso said essentially that the cookie was so perfect for the occasion that he had decided not to make it again. But given the momentous nature of the resignation, he decided to reprise the cookie. The price, $3.50 outside the stadium in 2008, has come down to $2 in the shop.

On Monday afternoon, things were hectic in the kitchen, where the staff had just finished a batch of similar cookies with Spider-Man’s face on them for a little boy’s party and an order had come in for a girl’s birthday cake decorated to resemble a bottle of lip gloss.

Ms. Corridori had the bakers make a dozen cookies and apply moist icing to the top. She then selected an online photograph of Pope Benedict and used a special pastry printer, loaded with food-coloring “ink,” to print his beneficent face onto round, thin sheets of icing that were then applied to the top of the cookies.

“I hate to take a bite out of the pope,” she said, pulling one of the cookies in half to sample it.

Artuso’s is one of many multigenerational Italian shops near Arthur Avenue in a neighborhood that was once heavily Italian. That has changed in recent years, as Albanians and Latinos have moved in.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, shop owners were not exactly jumping on the pope-memorabilia bandwagon. The two main religious-item stores — Catholic Goods Center and Mount Carmel Catholic Book Shop, both on 187th Street, near Artuso’s – closed in recent years.

At DeCicco Brothers Novelties on Arthur Avenue, there were still two Pope Benedict bobblehead dolls in the window, left over from 2008. Giovanna DeCicco, whose family owns the business, sensed a sudden economic opportunity when a reporter expressed interest in them.

“The price was $25, but now, I don’t know,” she said with a slight smile.

At Artuso’s, Mr. Artuso said he was unsure how many cookies to stock.

“It’s all happened so quickly,” he said. “I think the neighborhood was really caught off guard. I know we were.”

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