The Legend of The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
The urban legend is well over 70 years old and has been circulated about many various venues and assorted recipes.
In the case of Neiman Marcus:
A woman and her daughter stop for a light lunch ordering a couple of salads at “The Neiman Marcus Cafe” located in Dallas, Texas — then, later they decide to have a cookie for dessert — because they are such huge fans of cookies and avid cookie lovers. They love the NM cookie so much that the mom asks for the recipe but is initially denied. Offering to pay for it, the evil waitress tells her it’ll be “two fifty” so she responds “put it on my tab” — to later on be shocked finding a charge on her Visa card not for two dollars and fifty cents, but for two hundred fifty dollars. In response, she spreads the recipe around for free.
A similar story first circulated in 1930 about the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. That recipe was for Red Velvet Cake, and the reported charge was $100. It has been repeated many times since. This famous hotel is best known for its real recipe creation — the Waldorf Salad.
However, at the time the myth circulated there was no such Red Velvet Cake recipe being made by the hotel. Eventually, in response to the myth, they decided to actually come up with a recipe.
So, what of the $250 Chocolate Chip Cookie?
It has to be real and we can chalk one up for the little guy! Right?
Wrong! The story of the $250 cookie is also only a myth.
Plus, Neiman Marcus didn’t even start accepting Visa charge cards until the end of 2011 (just in time for holiday shopping) in response to customer demands.
Nevertheless, it is a great chocolate chip cookie recipe! — Right? But wait! …
There are also several recipe variations floating around claiming to be the “original” NM cookie recipe!
I rather like the one with oatmeal, which is the most commonly and first to be circulated — but it is not the true original recipe.
I even like the variations with pecans instead of walnuts — also not the true original recipe.
My all time favorite version used chocolate chunks instead of chips — also not the true original recipe.
Some use chocolate discs, many use grated chocolate, or even specify a particular brand of chocolate. The recommended oven temperatures often vary, the bake times vary, the types and amounts of ingredients vary, and so on.
Even printed newspaper articles and other reports of the recipe over the decades often vary.
So, what exactly is the true original recipe?!! When in doubt, get it straight from the horse’s mouth!
Which is exactly what I did, the first time my (then future) mother-in-law and one of her sisters took me on a “ladies” outing, in the mid to late 80s. Hitting I-35, we drove just a little over an hour and a half away, visiting none other than Neiman Marcus on Main Street in Dallas, Texas.
According to the Neiman Marcus on Main Street in Dallas, Texas, they had no such recipe, never had, — but wouldn’t mind sharing if they did, and that they have always shared their recipes willingly! We were even encouraged to have a meal at any one of their three restaurants and to feel free to ask for any recipe we’d like — but that they had no signature chocolate chip cookie recipe available.
As far as I know, the closest they ever came to actually selling any of their recipes was “charity” cookbook published in 1991 and it was only sold to an inner circle of top customers — and the proceeds went to benefit the American Heart Association.
By the way, they also never had a “Neiman Marcus Cafe” in Dallas. They were called The Woods, Zodiac, and Zodiac at North Park.
So, there was no such thing as a Neiman Marcus Cookie! How disappointing!
However, eventually, like the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Neiman Marcus finally decided to come up with a recipe of their own. It was nothing at all like The $250 Cookie Recipe.
This is their true original recipe (which wasn’t developed until sometime in the late 1990s):
The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (at room temperature)
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1) Preheat oven to 300 F 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.
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
Now you know!
I still use the recipe today, however, I prefer to line my cookie sheets with parchment paper rather than greasing them.
Also, to save time, I recommend that you preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the cookies approximately 7 to 10 minutes — or 9 to 12 for a crispier cookie. Watch closely since times vary with different altitudes and ovens (oven temperatures can vary by as much as 25 F degrees).
MY OWN DIABETIC FRIENDLY LOW & NO ADDED SUGAR VERSIONS:
Due to my late husband’s diabetes, I eventually started making a more diabetic friendly low sugar version, so for his sake, I used 3/4 cups granulated sucralose, plus 3 Tbsp. sorghum molasses, and 1/4 cup dark brown sugar in place of the sugars. I also used 1 Tbsp more flour and an extra 1/2 tsp instant espresso coffee.
For a no added sugar version simply use 1 cup plus 3 Tbsp of granulated sucralose and if desired use 2 to 2-1/2 tsp of the instant espresso coffee. I also recommend adding 2 Tbsp baking cocoa.
Also, check the labels on semi-sweet chocolate chips and choose the lowest possible sugar content — or, instead, substitute a really good low or no sugar dark chocolate which you can either grate or chunk.
And, here is the recipe for a still very delicious cookie — even though it is not really a Neiman Marcus cookie — (that I obtained in 1982):
The $250 Cookie Recipe
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups Quaker 5 minute oats
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 ounces chocolate chips
4 Hershey milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 ounces each)
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts.
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cream together butter and both sugars. Stir in eggs and vanilla.
3. Grind oatmeal into a fine powder in a blender and add, with flour, salt, baking powder and soda. Grate Hershey bars and add, with chocolate chips and nuts.
4. Drop by spoonfuls, 2 inches apart, on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
Again, I prefer to line my cookie sheets with parchment paper rather than grease them.
I also prefer to cut up the Hershey bars (or other chocolate bars, chocolatier chocolate blocks, etc.) into chunks. I cut up the little bite sized portions that you snap off of a Hershey bar into about 4 to 6 coarse pieces each and stir them in — sort of mashing them into the already prepared cookie dough with a wooden spoon.
And, I also don’t grind “5 minute oats” into as fine a powder (a sort of oatmeal flour) as the recipe calls for. I use whole rolled oats and just pulse them a little bit to crack them.