The story behind these Neiman Marcus cookies may be an urban legend but the resulting oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is very, very real.
You’ve encountered the Neiman Marcus cookie urban legend before, yes? The story of the $250 cookie recipe? According to author Jessie Oleson Moore, “As the story goes (and there are many variations), a woman and her daughter are shopping at Neiman Marcus and snacking on a chocolate chip cookie in the luxe department store’s café. Impressed, they ask for the recipe. They’re informed that it will come with a ‘two-fifty’ charge, which will be put on the mother’s account. Not bad for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, right? But as it later turned out, the amount billed was $250, not a mere $2.50. Incensed, the mom photocopies the recipe for the chocolate chip cookie and shares it with all her friends, urging them to share it with their friends, so that the store will never make another penny off this cookie—and, more altruistically, so that it may be enjoyed by all.”
Chances are it’s just an urban legend. As Moore goes on to explain, “Before the emergence of this legend, the department store didn’t sell chocolate chip cookies, much less have a recipe to share. But after the legend started circulating, you can bet your bottom dollar they got themselves a cookie recipe. Yes, indeed—they created a cookie in response to the demand created by all the hubbub. Neiman Marcus has published the recipe in one of their cookbooks (which, by the way, retails for less than $250). That version of the cookie recipe differs from the recipe for the people’s cookie. It yields a great cookie—and a great number of them. In essence, this recipe is an interesting riff on classic chocolate chip cookies—some would even say it’s an improvement. What appears to be an alarming amount of chocolate in this recipe actually doesn’t come across as excessive, so fear not.”
Behold, the people’s cookie recipe.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredient Note
The best part about these tender, nutty, not-too-sweet chocolate chip cookies isn’t the legend. It’s the resulting taste and texture that come from using oat flour. (No worries. You don’t have to buy some pricey, hard-to-find ingredients. Just blitz some oats in a blender until powdery and flour-like before adding them to the dough.) What results is a slightly delicate, intensely chocolatey cookie with an atypically tender texture and an enigmatically nutty taste.
Kindly note that the recipe below makes half a batch of the original chocolate chip cookie recipe, seeing as the actual cookie recipe makes an enormous number of cookies. [Editor’s Note: There are worse things than stashing chocolate chip cookie dough safely away in the freezer for future cravings. We’ve learned from experience to intentionally mislabel the container of dough, for what we think are obvious reasons.]
Neiman Marcus Cookie
- 2 1/2 cups oat flour or oats blitzed in a blender until powdery
- 2 cups all-purpose flour sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet or milk chocolate
- 4 ounces milk chocolate grated (about 1 cup)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the oat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-low or with a handheld mixer on medium-high, beat the butter and both sugars until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs, 1 at a time, pausing after each addition to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Stir in the vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture gradually, in 2 to 3 additions, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stop using the mixer and gently stir in the chocolate chips, grated chocolate, and nuts. Drop 1-inch balls or blobs of the chocolate chip cookie dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool for a couple of minutes before carefully transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will be rather tender and delicate, so treat them accordingly. (You can store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.)
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I’ve been holding onto this Neiman Marcus cookie recipe since sometime around 1984, which is when I clipped it from the Omaha World-Herald (or was it the Des Moines Register? I can’t recall which…) with the scissors my mom usually reserved for cutting coupons from the Sunday paper. I was 12 and loved to bake and lived on a farm in Iowa, so there wasn’t much else to do for excitement besides clip recipes. My grandma was a hard-core recipe clipper, so it’s in my genes. It was several years before I actually made the recipe, seeing as we didn’t have anything as fancy as a blender with which to blitz the oats into a powdery flour. But when I make it for the first time, whoa! It was a chocolate chip cookie revelation. They were sorta crinkly on top. Slightly but not terribly gooey in the center. A little nutty. Gobsmackingly chocolatey. Laced with just the right amount of crunch from the occasional walnut. And delicately tender in a sorta chewy, sorta cakey way. And the dough when snuck by the spoonful? Lord, oh Lord. I was smitten. I still am. I’ve made these cookies countless times, either exactly according to the recipe or, more times than not, with all milk chocolate, a few times with all dark chocolate, even once with chopped dried Turkish figs and pumpkins seeds and walnuts stirred in for a granola-like cookie. I’ve never, ever had a bad batch. They’re not for everyone, as some folks I know prefer the sweeter, gooier, more familiar Toll House cookie. But not me.
Originally published June 13, 2016