There’s nothing more fun than a recipe with a story behind it, and these cookies are part of an urban legend that’s been floating around for decades. Legend has it that a woman was charged $250 for the cookie recipe at Neiman-Marcus Cafe and seeks revenge by distributing the recipe to as many people possible. Snopes.com has proven that the whole thing has no real truth behind it and Neiman-Marcus put out a statement claiming that they didn’t even have a cookie recipe at the time the story started circulating. In fact, they later developed a recipe in response to the story, though it differs greatly from the one in the original legend.
Here’s an example of one of the original emails that circulated in 1996:
“My daughter & I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because our family are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the “Neiman-Marcus Cookie”. It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and they said with a small frown, “I’m afraid not.” Well, I said, would you let me buy the recipe? With a cute smile, she said, “Yes.” I asked how much, and she responded, “Two fifty.” I said with approval, just add it to my tab.
Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and I remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, “Cookie Recipe – $250.00.” Boy, was I upset!! I called Neiman’s Accounting Dept. and told them the waitress said it was “two fifty,” and I did not realize she meant $250.00 for a cookie recipe. I asked them to take back the recipe and reduce my bill and they said they were sorry, but because all the recipes were this expensive so not just everyone could duplicate any of our bakery recipes….the bill would stand. I waited, thinking of how I could get even or even try and get any of my money back.
I just said, “Okay, you folks got my $250.00 and now I’m going to have $250.00 worth of fun.” I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover will have a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus for nothing. She replied, “I wish you wouldn’t do this.” I said, “I’m sorry but this is the only way I feel I could get even,” and I will.
So, here it is, and please pass it to someone else or run a few copies…. I paid for it; now you can have it for free.”
The history of this urban legend can be traced back as far as 1948 when a similar story about a “$25 Fudge Cake” was published in a cookbook called Massachusetts Cooking Rules, Old and New. Then later in the 1960’s the Waldorf-Astoria hotel came under fire over an alleged $350 charge for the recipe for their red velvet cake. By the 1970’s the company being named was Mrs. Fields, claiming that someone was charged $250 for a chocolate chip cookie recipe.
I’ve received the email a few times over the years but never gave the recipe a try until now, and it’s… wow, it’s REALLY good. It has some interesting features that make it unique, such as blending oatmeal into a powder that’s mixed in with the dry ingredients. This technique gives the cookies a heartier, oaty flavor without the texture of a full-on oatmeal cookie.
The recipe also uses grated milk chocolate along with the semi-sweet chocolate chips, resulting in small bits of extra sweetness that instantly melt in your mouth.
This is the recipe that circulated with the original emails. I’ve changed the quantity since the original made a truckload of cookies and I also added a couple of notes. I dunno if I’d pay $250 for it, but I gotta say, this is one we’ll be making again and again.
|The Famous $250 Neiman Marcus Cookies|| |
- 2½ cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 4 ounces milk chocolate, grated or finely chopped *
- 1½ cups chopped nuts (your choice) **
- Using a food processor or coffee grinder, grind the oats into a very fine powder. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir the blended oats together with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In another bowl, using a hand or stand mixer, cream the sugars with the butter until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Mix in the vanilla extract.
- With the mixer speed on low and slowly add the dry ingredients in 2-3 additions, beating until just incorporated.
- With a sturdy rubber spatula, mix in the chocolate chips, grated chocolate, and chopped nuts.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. ***
- Preheat oven to 375F. Cover sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Using a large cookie scoop (about 2 TBS per scoop) drop balls of dough onto the sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes until the edges look set (centers may still look under done). Cool cookies on the sheet for 5-7 minutes and then use a spatula to carefully transfer them to a cooling rack.
- Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature.
** The original recipe states that any nuts can be used here. I used chopped walnuts.
*** The original recipe does not specify to chill the dough, but it's something I always do with cookies that use butter to prevent them from spreading too much in the oven.
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