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C is for Cookie

May 25, 2009

A few of us at work were forwarded a recipe last week with a bit of a story behind it. The story goes that a woman was at the department store Neiman Marcus in the US, and she had a cookie which she thought was delightful and delicious and oh-so-good. She asked if she could have the recipe and the sales assistant said ‘sure, it’s two-fifty’ and the woman said ‘great – add it to my account.’ A few days later, the woman saw her bill, which contained a charge of $250.00 for the recipe. Shocked, she called Neiman Marcus, explained that she had expected a charge of $2.50, and demanded a refund. They refused because she had already seen the recipe and so she told them she was going to email the recipe to everyone she knew, for free. And then she did just that.

Cookie dough

Now, this has been running around the internet for yonks, and it’s definitely not true, but still, I like it – an urban cookie myth in the grand tradition of the little guy versus the evil, rich baron.

After reading this tale of outrage and revenge, another workmate pointed us to the Neiman Marcus website, which patiently and politely tells us that “an urban myth is a modern folk tale, its origins unknown, its believability enhanced simply by the frequency with which it is repeated. Our signature chocolate chip cookie is the subject of one such myth. If you haven’t heard the story, we won’t perpetuate it here. If you have, the recipe below should serve to refute it. Copy it, print it out, pass it along to friends and family. It’s a terrific recipe. And it’s absolutely free.”

Cookie stack

So that settles it and we could leave it there, but where’s the fun in that? Surely we must ask the question: Which one tastes the best? The more than a little bit implausible but kind of fun chain-email urban myth cookie recipe, or the super duper official, Neiman Marcus, feel free to pass it along cookies? The two recipes, if you care to examine them (below), certainly have their differences. So I decided to make them, and managed somehow to find some willing participants to take the test.

Cookie comparison

I offered the cookies around the office and, without telling people which was which, I asked two questions:

Which cookie do you prefer?

Which cookie do you think is the official Neiman Marcus cookie?

Seventeen people were polled. Opinion was pretty evenly divided:

Eight people preferred the mythical cookies.

Nine preferred the official cookies.

Eleven correctly identified the official cookies (because they looked more perfect and commercial).

Which meant that six people thought the flatter cookies were the official ones (a couple commented that they looked more ‘American’).

Cookie and coffee

So, there you have it. Both recipes work, in their own ways. And different cookies speak to different people. All in all this has been a very satisfying experiment. I think the cookie monster would approve.

C is for cookie

Recipes are below. My recipe notes and any changes to the measurements are in green.

Chain-email urban myth Neiman Marcus cookies (Makes 112 cookies. Recipe may be halved) I quartered it, which made 30 cookies.

2 cups (125g) butter

4 cups (1 cup) flour

2 tsp (1/4 tsp) baking powder

2 cups (1/2 cup) sugar

5 cups (1 1/4 cups) blended oatmeal

680 g (170g) chocolate chips

2 cups (1/2 cup) brown sugar

1 tsp (1/4 tsp) salt

500 g (100g) Grated Hersheys/Cadbury chocolate I used Cadbury’s, and 100g instead of 125g.

4 (1) eggs

2 tsp (1/2 tsp) Bicarbonate of soda

3 cups chopped nuts (optional) I didn’t add nuts

2 tsp (1/4 tsp) vanilla

Measure oatmeal, and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder,  and bicarbonate of soda. Add chocolate chips, grated Chocolate and nuts. Roll into  balls, and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees (180 C). I baked them for 10 minutes, but if I make them again I’ll give them 15.

Super duper official NM Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (Yield: 2 dozen cookies) I got exactly 24 cookies.

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

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

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 (180C) 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. I baked them for 15 minutes, and they were perfect. Any longer would have been too long.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Yas permalink
    May 25, 2009 4:37 pm

    AAAAAAH! I can’t believe it! The NM ones were so good, possibly the best chocolate-chip cookies ever! Although, I am going to make the NYTimes ones this weekend, hopefully they’ll be the best ever!

  2. May 25, 2009 4:48 pm

    I have tried both – and the NM published version is perfection – taste, appearance and texture. I feel sorry for the internet person – particularly if the story is true and the lady indeed paid for 250 for the cookie recipe. To unknowingly purchase the recipe AND it end up a dud!

  3. Mrs K permalink
    May 25, 2009 5:40 pm

    I tried both as well – how lucky can you get on a Monday morning?! Yes, different cookies speak to different people – the flat, gooey ones were whispering sugary words of love to me. More more more!!

  4. May 25, 2009 9:38 pm

    Yum, yum, yum! I’m so craving cookies now!!

  5. May 26, 2009 12:52 pm

    The real NM cookies sound like they’d be much much better. A friend tried the chain letter ones and gave one to me and I didn’t care all that much for them. Also, the anti-Neiman-Marcus story is a malicious hoax. I wouldn’t feel sorry for anybody who is cold-hearted enough to make up such a pack of lies all to get some sort of average cookie recipe circulating.

    • maybenextweek permalink*
      May 26, 2009 4:50 pm

      Yas: You’re going to bring in some NYT cookies for me to try right? They look out-of-this-world amazing!

      niftydandy & Mrs K: Your two different responses perfectly illustrate the outcome of the test – they were both delicious in their different ways!

      Tracey: ‘Tis the season to bake cookies – I highly recommend both these recipes. The official ones were crisp and sweet, the mythical ones were soft and chewy and had the oatmeal going for them.

      Capri: Wow – them’s harsh words! Like I said, it’s definitely an urban legend – if you look it up, the story’s been around long before for the internet even existed and was about other store cookies before Neiman Marcus got attached. I think the fact that it’s still going around just demonstrates how much people love their cookies. I don’t think there’s anything malicious about it, and I’m sure Neiman Marcus must get a lot of positive attention as a result (as this post demonstrates!) Plus, as the taste test demonstrated, almost half the people preferred the mythical cookie. Different people really do prefer different cookie qualities.

  6. May 28, 2009 9:57 pm

    What an incredible, well-researched, fun post. Love it! I’ve long wanted to know the answer to this urban myth. Thanks for sharing.

  7. January 18, 2010 11:28 pm

    Flavorful recipe! ;). I enjoy studying your web logs. Where did you get this pretty homepage template from? Salutations from london.

    • maybenextweek permalink*
      January 19, 2010 8:11 am

      Hi there! They were indeed flavourful recipes – it might be time to make another batch 🙂 This homepage is a standard wordpress template – the theme is MistyLook.

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