Web Extra: The Cookie Worth a Fortune
Discover the way the cookie crumbles with Neiman Marcus’s signature sweet treat
When I think of Neiman Marcus, a few things come to mind: classy clothing, chic shoes, and dazzling accessories that are icing on the designer-clothing-clad cake. But something even sweeter is tied to the Dallas-born department store – the signature Neiman Marcus chocolate-chip cookie.
Behind the famous cookie is an urban legend with variations that have been circulating for at least half a century. The tall tale goes like this:
A woman was enjoying lunch with her daughter at Neiman Marcus in Dallas. The pair ordered a cookie for dessert, and the mother enjoyed the cookie so much that she asked the waiter for the recipe. The waiter cheerfully quipped it would cost “two-fifty,” and the mother instructed the waiter to add the fee to her store account. When the woman discovered a $250 recipe charge on her bill instead of the $2.50 fee she was expecting, she called Neiman Marcus to contest the charge, but the company refused to reduce the bill. The woman got her revenge by sending the exclusive recipe to everyone she knew, encouraging them to pass it on.
Amusing, yes. But this story of sticking it to the corporate man is 100 percent false. In fact, the recipe is available online for free at the Neiman Marcus Web site (www.neimanmarcus.com).
Variations of the story have circulated for generations. The 1948 cookbook Massachusetts Cooking Rules, Old and New shares the secret recipe behind “$25 Fudge Cake,” complete with a story reminiscent of the Neiman Marcus tale. In the 1960s, the myth was reworked to fit New York’s Waldorf Astoria red velvet cake. In the ’70s, Mrs. Fields became the new overcharging cookie culprit.
The story has even jumped across oceans. Another popular twist on the tall tale replaces Neiman Marcus with South African retailer Woolworths, switches dollars for rands, and calls the coveted cookie “Woolie’s cookie.”
No matter how downright untrue the urban legend is, cookie-lovers from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Fredericksburg, Texas, can agree that this recipe for imagined revenge tastes pretty sweet.
The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (approximately 30 seconds).
Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.
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.
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
Neiman Marcus Cookbook, 2003