The $250 Neiman Marcus Cookie

If we're talking about blog recipe balance for this month's posts -- you know, my usual effort to ensure a good mix of savory and sweet, Italian and American, easy and slightly more elaborate, trying to mix in some veggies/secondi to break up all the sweets and pasta -- these cookies don't really belong. After all, we had a cookie recipe last month, not to mention another sweet --this  batch of glorious doughnuts -- and given that, I'd usually at this point be trying to select something a little different from my extensive Google drive doc of "RECIPES TO MAKE" (you know, chicken with potatoes and artichokes, an A++ frittata recipe I haven't yet shared, etc). But reason and logic only get you so far, my friends -- every so often, once in a while, you come across a recipe that grabs hold of you with an iron grip (stronger than you would expect from a cookie!) and won't let go, and indeed, these cookies that I came across in American Cookie got in to my head and would not leave, would not budge, and I knew that the only cure would be to take on the heavy, difficult responsibility of baking them. You're very welcome. 

So! Before we get in to the cookie itself, let's address its curious name, shall we? Legend has it that a woman lunching at the upscale Neiman Marcus Cafe in Dallas, Texas enjoyed the chocolate chip cookies she ate there for dessert so much that she asked for the recipe. The waitress said that it would be hers, for just "two-fifty;" but when the woman's bill arrived, she found the total near $300. It turned out out that the recipe for the spectacularly delicious cookies cost not $2.50 but $250, or so the story goes. In 1997 (after years of enduring the myth!) Neiman Marcus began to give out the recipe for their famous cookies for free, and the name stuck. 

I'll keep it short and sweet here -- these cookies are just so good (in fact, the hefty price on the recipe, if we're to believe the story, does not surprise me). These $250 cookies are everything a good cookie should be, at least in my book: they're thick and chewy and soft and packed with chocolate and toasty crunchy almonds to keep things interesting, and the oatmeal gives them a wonderful, wholesome, moreish kind of texture. Ehem: the grating of milk chocolate is not to be underestimated here (it adds an extra layer of sweetness and sort of melts in to the cookie) and I would ask that you please use chopped chocolate instead of chips! Chopped chocolate in your cookies makes for puddles of melted chocolate throughout rather than predictable dots of it, and we wouldn't want a predictable cookie, now would we?! ALSO: Like most cookies, they are superb eaten warm out of the oven. 

Side note: In the midst of the coronavirus situation, things are weird in Rome at the moment -- the city center is strangely quiet, museums/schools/cinemas are closed, restaurants require a meter of distance between each diner, most of my organization is teleworking -- so in all the panic, the least I can offer are a batch of these cookies, which I found to be comforting and distracting, something solid and reliable to tide you over until all the craziness passes. Hang in there, everyone.

A couple of notes: This makes a big batch of cookies that can easily be halved (I did this an ended up with 22 cookies). Feel free to leave out the nuts here if you're not a fan, and just add in a bit more chocolate. I grated the milk chocolate here using a microplaner, but a regular cheese grater will do.

Looking for other cookie recipes? A few more favorites: these Funfetti Cookies, these Brutti ma buoni, these White Chocolate, Almond, and Apricot Biscotti, these Brownie Cookies, these Brown Butter and Chocolate Chunk Cookies, these Gingerbread Cookies, these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, these Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons, these Magical 4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies, these Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies, these Sable' alla nutella, this Pistachio Shortbread, this Gingerbread Shortbread, and these Chocolate Mudslide Cookies.

Recipe from American Cookie by Anne Byrne. Makes 45-50 cookies. 

1 cup (224 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (240 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (240 grams) dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (260 grams) flour
2 1/2 cups (225 grams) oatmeal, ground finely in a food processor
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (336 grams, 12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped 
4 ounce (112 grams) bar of milk chocolate, grated

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each one is incorporated, and then add the vanilla extract. 

Mix together flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl and slowly add to butter, sugar, egg mixture. Add in the chocolate chunks, grated chocolate (I just grated the bar over the bowl, easier), and nuts, if using.

Form the cookies (about 2 tablespoons batter per cookie) and place two inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Be sure to take the cookies out of the oven 1 or 2 minutes before the cookies are cooked, as they will continue to cook on the baking pan. Let cookies cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet before transferring them to racks to cool completely.

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