Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Neiman-Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie Challenge

Ever heard the story of the Neiman-Marcus cookie? No? Well, the website sums it up like this:

"Neiman-Marcus charged a shopper $250 for its cookie recipe, not the $2.50 the woman had been expecting to pay. As revenge on the store for refusing to reverse the charge, she now provides the recipe for free and exhorts others to pass it along."

Long since proven as an urban legend, the cookie story still gets passed around the internet along with the "infamous" recipe. Neiman Marcus on their website sums it up like this:

"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."

Well, with Neiman-Marcus providing a true N.M. recipe and with the endurance of the urban legend I thought it would be a fun idea to bake the two cookies and put them to the test. Which cookie was better? The real Neiman-Marcus cookie or the urban legend Neiman Marcus cookie.

Both recipes were fairly simple (I provide each one at the end of this post) and I was able to make both the same night. It should be noted that the urban legend recipe contains a lot more ingredients and is more of an oatmeal/chocolate chip cookie than the real N.M. recipe which is a twist on the classic c.c. cookie. These differences make it a bit harder to compare but we were up for the challenge.

The Urban Legend cookie's (ULC) dough was much more interesting than the Real Neiman-Marcus Cookie (RNMC) and in my opinion tasted better. The texture was great and the dough very thick (don't attempt to make the ULC with a hand mixer!). However, the RNMC had the most wonderful smell while cooking. It was similar to a chocolate chip cookie smell but more intense and just awesome. The appearance of the two after they were done baking was totally different. The ULC was more of a home-made rustic look while the RNMC were more sleek and traditional looking (but still a darker color than a traditional c.c. cookie). It's hard to judge which one looked better but they both looked delicious and I think it depends on type of look your going for.

As for the taste (which is what we utimately judged the cookie on), we brought the cookies to about a dozen people without telling them which cookie was which. What were the results? Split 50/50. Some people loved the oatmeal and nuts in the ULC while others felt that those ingredients didn't belong in a real chocolate chip cookie. The people who liked the NMC best all said it was more buttery and if they went and bought a cookie at N-M then this the NMC is what they would expect to get. Overall, everyone really loved both cookies but most people agreed that the real Neiman-Marcus cookie belonged at the store.


Urban Legend Cookie Recipe:


1 cup butter
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder)
12 oz. chocolate chips
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 of an 8oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (your choice but I used walnuts)
1 tsp. vanilla


Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 66 cookies.

The Real Neiman-Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe:

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

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.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

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