Tag Archives: Biscuits

Urban Myths and The Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe

Years ago when we were kids my parents and the other parents in the neighbourhood used to get together leaving all the kids outside to play. We would run around each other’s backyards like the hooligans we were playing until the sun went down until, finally exhausted, we would gather in a semicircle outside in the dark and take turns at telling the scariest stories we could think of. You know the sort of thing: “a couple was driving along a deserted road and their car runs out of petrol, the young man gets out and …..”  well let’s just say things don’t end up well for him.

Back then they were just extremely scary stories designed to see who got scared and generally had kids cowering under the covers at night. As a kid I believed these stories, but of course I now know they are just urban myths. Although the other night I was driving home it was very dark and…..

Years later while working in the hotel pastry kitchen I came across another urban myth in the guise of the recipe for the Neiman Marcus cookie. Now I am not sure if I am the only person on the planet that had never heard this story of revenge and spite about a woman charged $250 for the prized Neiman Marcus cookie recipe, but I was intrigued by it.  Not so much by the story itself because after all it was just your standard “you did me wrong now I will exact revenge story”, but more by the history and the recipe behind it.

If like me you haven’t heard this story before in a nutshell it goes something like this..

“A woman and her daughter were having lunch at the department store Neiman Marcus and decided to have dessert. Being cookie lovers they both had the NM cookie. Loving them so much she asked the waitress for the recipe. The waitress says no, but NM were prepared to sell the recipe for two fifty to which the woman said charge it to my Visa.

Long story short the woman gets charged $250 for the recipe and is so outraged she rings the NM accounting department to complain. She is told she has the recipe so there will be no refund. In revenge the woman has spread the recipe around the world begging everyone to pass it on to everyone they know so that no one else will have to pay for it”.

To this day they still don’t know who started this urban myth or who’s kitchen the cookie recipe came out of, although from all accounts it is a very good cookie. In all the research I did I couldn’t find anyone that had put their hand up and said it was their recipe.

Neiman Marcus denied this story was true and didn’t even have a cookie on the menu at the time. It didn’t stop them from going on to produce a cookie recipe that they now give away for free.

One of the things I did find fascinating was that in every version that I read the recipe remained exactly the same throughout the telling, It’s a fact of life that recipes change, they are passed from person to person and small adjustments are made to suit individual tastes along the way. Maybe it’s just that the whole story was e-mailed from one person to another so unlike a verbal retelling where things get changed it managed to get passed on word for word.

The verdict, I really liked this cookie (or biscuit as we call them in Australia). There is a good base for a cookie here and you can eat them just as they are or add some other fruit, nuts or spices to make something a little bit different.

So, the moral of this story….. always check your credit card receipt before you leave the store 🙂

 

Recipe

Neiman Marcus Cookie

Adapted from the Neiman Marcus “Urban Myth” Cookie – The original cookie has a Hershey bar in it, I substituted milk chocolate chips.

Makes 35-45

  • 250gm rolled oats
  • 200gm unsalted butter
  • 200gm caster sugar
  • 160gm brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 300gm plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 340gm dark chocolate chips
  • 110gm milk chocolate chips
  • 150gm walnuts, chopped.

Method

Blend the rolled oats in a food processor until it is the consistency of flour.

Cream the butter, caster sugar and brown sugar in a stand mixer until light and creamy.

Add eggs one at a time mixing between additions. Add vanilla and mix to combine.

Add the flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda to the butter mix. Mix on low speed until fully combined.

Remove from mixer then add dark and milk chocolate chips and chopped walnuts, mix together with a wooden spoon until the chocolate and nuts are evenly spread through the mixture.

Roll into balls and place 2″ apart on pre prepared tray.

Note: They don’t say in the original recipe how big to make the cookies, I did a mixture of medium and large. It is no problem to do this just remember to keep all small or all large on the same tray that way they will bake evenly and all be ready at the same time.

Bake for 10-14 minutes @ 180ºC.

Leave on the oven tray for 5 minutes to harden before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Spice Shortbread

Christmas Spiced Shortbread

Ok I admit it, I may have gone a bit overboard with Andrea’s spice mix this Christmas, but seriously can you have too much of something when it just tastes so good? I am on my third, or is it fourth, batch of spice mix now and I keep telling myself it will be the last, but what is Christmas without some shortbread and more to the point – spiced shortbread? 🙂

Christmas Spiced Shortbread

Spice Shortbread

Adapted from Australian Womens weekly “Bake

Makes 2 x 20cm round shortbread.

Ingredients

  • 250gm Unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 75gm Caster sugar
  • 35gm Rice flour
  • 335gm Plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons Spice Mix
  • White sugar for dusting shortbread.

Method

Preheat oven to 150°C. Cover two trays with baking paper.

In a mixing bowl of a stand mixer beat butter and caster sugar until light.

Stir in plain flour and rice flour in two batches.

Knead mixture on a lightly floured work surface until smooth.

Divide mixture in half and make each half into a circle. Place on prepared oven tray lined with baking paper. Press out the circle with your hands until it measures 20cm in diameter. Pinch the edges of each round in your fingers to make a pattern around the outside edge.

Lightly score the top of the shortbread with a sharp knife to make eight wedges. Prick the top of the short bread with a fork and then sprinkle the top with white sugar.

Bake @ 150°C for 40-50 minutes.

Christmas Spiced Shortbread

Christmas Spice Biscuits

Christmas Spiced Biscuits

Growing up it was never a big tradition in my household to bake non stop in the lead up to Christmas. Of course, mum would make her annual Christmas fruit cake months before the big day, but other than that she wasn’t much for making biscuits or other tasty treats. Don’t get me wrong on Christmas day my mother always went completely overboard and the table would positively groan with the amount and variation of desserts she would lay out (trifle being a real star of the show).

However, since I have found my love of baking (and it’s no secret that I love Christmas), I am embracing the baking fervour that has started in the blogging world and I’m adding to it with my version of a Christmas spiced biscuit.

This biscuit was inspired by Andrea at The Kitchen Lioness who has been blogging about the most beautiful European Christmas treats, but it was her gingerbread biscotti that caught my eye. More specifically her gingerbread spice mix that went into the biscotti. As soon as I read the ingredient list my over active imagination was coming up with recipes that I could use it in.

While these biscuits were baking the most wonderful aroma of all the spices wafted through the house. It was hard to distinguish between them all: cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise; it was all there teasing and tempting us. It called for some Christmas music, so with “Let it Snow” playing in the background I pulled the biscuits out of the oven. Of course, the temptation was too much to wait for these biscuits to cool; we ate a couple warm from the oven – Yum! If you can wait, these biscuits are even better iced and eaten the next day once all the spices have infused.

I have always loved the idea of edible Christmas decorations, but the realities of living in sub tropical Queensland means that it just isn’t going to happen. Still I went with the inspiration and gave these away as Christmas gifts.

Christmas Spiced Biscuits

Recipe

Christmas Spice Biscuits

Biscuits adapted from Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits (Treacle spice biscuits), Gingerbread spice mix from Andrea at The Kitchen Lioness.

Makes 17 x 6cm round biscuits

Ingredients

  • 200gm plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice mix
  • 50gm dark brown sugar
  • 100gm salted butter, cubed
  • 50gm golden syrup.

Method

Place the flour, baking powder, spice mix and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix well.

Add butter and mix on a low speed until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.

Add golden syrup and mix.

The mixture won’t fully come together, scrape out mixture onto the bench and press together.

Wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge until ready to use (I made my mixture the night before).

Bring dough back to room temperature when you are ready to use it and roll out between two sheets of baking paper to approx. 3-5mm thick. Use your favourite Christmas shaped cutters to cut dough. Use a piping nozzle to put a hole in the top of the biscuit then place biscuits on a tray lined with baking paper. The scraps of dough can be gathered together and re rolled and cut into biscuits until all the dough is used.

Place the trays of biscuits in the fridge to chill (at least an hour).

Preheat oven to 170°C and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Remove from heat, allow biscuits to cool for 5 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing

Use a piping bag and a number 2 nozzle to pipe the outside lines of the biscuits with royal icing. I have used a store bought variety of icing. Use a thicker consistency to pipe the outside lines, I follow the direction on the packet and find that is thick enough to hold it’s shape (keep some icing aside for the words on top).

Add some red gel colour to the icing and mix, add more gel until you reach the desired colour. Add a small amount of water and mix together to get a thick but pouring consistency. Once again start with a small amount and then add more water if you need it – if you go too thin it will run off the biscuit.

I use a squeeze bottle with a screw on nozzle (as recommended in the Biscuiteers book) to squeeze the pouring icing onto the biscuit.

Wait for the icing to dry a little then pipe words on top of the biscuit.

Place all the biscuits back on a baking tray lined with paper and place back in the oven @ 120°C for 30 minutes to allow the biscuits to dry off.

Remove from oven.

Place on wire racks and allow biscuits to cool completely.

Thread ribbon through the hole and tie in a knot at the top.

Christmas Spiced Biscuits