500 cookies, 360pp.
by Philippa Vanstone
New Holland Publishers, Sydney, 2005
Cooking on page 32
The cover of this book says it’s the only ‘compendium’ you’ll ever need for cookies, and I suppose 500 recipes ought to hold almost anyone for a long, long time.
Our daughter, Petra, received this as a birthday gift from Lia, one of our much-loved German exchange students.
I’d never cooked from it until today, so I went straight to page 32.
That’s where I found the infamous—by internet-hoax standards—Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie recipe. Surely you know the story…that a woman purchased the recipe at a Neiman Marcus store and was charged $250 for it rather than the $2.50 she was expecting.
Over the years, I’ve received a lot of emails claiming to give me the Neiman Marcus recipe. They’re all different from this one, and I’ve made a couple of them. So let’s find out what all the fuss is about and how this one rates.
But first I’ll mention one of my pet peeves—spam. I’m especially irritated with people who start these urban legends that get spread across the internet. This rubbish frightens and/or misinforms people, chews up my bandwidth and wastes my time. Please, before you pass on the rumours, myths and inflammatory messages, check them out on a reputable site such as Snopes, to see if they are true or false. Here’s their history on the Neiman Marcus cookie hoax.
Neiman Marcus cookies
115 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
200 g (7 oz) light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
200 g (7 oz) plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
225 g (8 oz) plain chocolate chips
Pre-heat over to 190°C (375°f/Gas Mark 5).
Beat the butter and sugar together, and add the egg and vanilla essence.
Sift together the remaining dry ingredients, including the coffee powder. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix in the chocolate chips.
Roll into balls. Use your fingertips to flatten onto a non-stick baking sheet 5 cm (2 in) apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool for five minutes.
Store in an airtight container for four to five days.
Makes 2 dozen.
How it played out
I made this exactly as written (except that my bag of chocolate chips weighed 230 grams, so what’s 5 grams?). My baking sheets aren’t non-stick, so I used baking paper. The biggest surprise was that the batch made exactly 2 dozen cookies. Usually I get more or less than the recipe says.
Store for four or five days? These lasted four or five minutes. These are probably the most decadent and chocolately cookies I’ve ever made. Seriously delicious, seriously easy-to-make and quite possibly worth a $250 price tag for the recipe.
And to think I thought I already had a good chocolate chip cookie recipe. Try this one and let me know what you think.
P.S. These sensational cookies were served as part of an afternoon tea that was really a page-32 bonanza. There were three more recipes—lime buttermilk cake (coming soon), honey snaps and passionfruit banana tart. The latter two are from Rhonda who earlier contributed this page-32 recipe. She was in town to visit her son and daughter-in-law, buy up big at the popular Lifeline secondhand book fair (where I bought 24 cookbooks for less than $50) and see the amazing tentmakers of Cairo.
P.P.S. Be sure to check out my Where to Next? travel blog.