We’re very entertained by the fact that one of our favorite sites for mother-daughter shopping sprees is also the focus of one of the greatest (food-related) urban myths of our time. Legend—and spam email circulation—has it that some woman (always a friend of a friend of a friend) was lunching with her daughter at a Neiman Marcus café in [insert the city nearest you here] when they decided to try “the Neiman Marcus Cookie.” The baked treat was so delicious, that the woman decided then and there that this chocolate chip cookie recipe (which was surprisingly nut-free, but we’ll get to that later) had to be hers.
When she posed her request to the smiling waitress, she was met with an “Of course, its only two fifty–it’s a great deal.” However, much to the mystery woman’s chagrin, her VISA statement the next month showed a $250 cookie recipe fee from Neiman Marcus. (And in case you couldn’t tell this story was a hoax before: Who doesn’t ask for a receipt for their meal, or rather, who can afford not to ask for a receipt for their meal, yet sweats a $250 charge?)
At this point in the email, our disgruntled Jane Doe explains how she called Neiman Marcus’ Accounting Department, told them her sob story, (“’250 clearly does not mean ‘two hundred and fifty dollars’ by any possible interpretation of the phrase’”) and was met with no sympathy. “Now that you’ve see the recipe, we cannot refund your money” was all customer service had to say, despite threats of levying fraud charges or reporting NM to the Better Business Bureau.
Her revenge? Why, to cut off Neiman’s monopoly on this delicious cookie recipe by circulating it to dessert lovers nationwide via email chain, of course:
Infamous Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe
Makes 112 cookies.
2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder)
24 oz. chocolate chips
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey bar (grated)
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla
1. Cream the butter and both sugars.
2. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda.
3. Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar and nuts.
4. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
The aspect of this story that most puzzles us is…what exactly is the motivation here? A similar prank plagued Mrs. Fields in the ’80s and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the ’40s (their red velvet chocolate cake recipe was rumored to cost $25…prices have been adjusted for inflation over the years). Regardless, one thing’s for certain: Though we may not know the source of this recipe, it’s certainly not Neiman Marcus, whose cafés didn’t even sell chocolate chip cookies at the time this rumor hit the mill.
Our favorite online shopping destination even went so far as to publish their actual signature chocolate chip recipe on their site, henceforth to be considered public domain. To be honest, we prefer the real deal, which does not call for nuts, so we can serve it to our kids and their friends without fear (unless anyone’s got a gluten allergy, in which case we’ve got you covered).
Genuine Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe
Makes 24 cookies.
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (approximately 30 seconds).
2. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.
3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips.
4. Using a 1-ounce scoop or a 2-tablespoon measure, drop cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2 inch circle. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Bake a little longer for a crispier cookie.