Photo credit: Danielle Atkins
Schermer at Home: Anne Byrn, cookbook author, Nashville, TN
By Stephanie Burt
American Cookie, by Anne Byrn (Rodale Books, Penguin Random House, 2018), Photo credit - Tina Rupp
“You know, the Neiman Marcus cookie was a chain letter urban myth from the 1980s,” says food historian and cookbook author Anne Byrn. She included it in her cookbook American Cookie: The Snaps, Drops, Jumbles, Tea Cakes, Bars & Brownies That We Have Loved for Generations because “It’s a cookie so luxurious, with grated semi-sweet chocolate and pecans, that it’s something a lot of cooks in the 80s aspired to bake. It seemed like it should come from someplace special, and it was impressive. It’s the cookie version of ‘80s dress to impress.’”
Although the use of more and better chocolate has escalated in home baking since the 80s, at the time this cookie recipe caught fire, it was thought of as very decadent. These days, the recipe stays in rotation because it’s really a crowd pleaser and easy to make, especially if you follow Anne’s lead and make a double batch and freeze one.
“Cookie dough freezes really well [even with pecans], and the key is scooping out the dough and flash freezing,” she says. And flash freezing is an easy method: scoop out the cookie dough into 1-inch scoops onto a sheet pan just as you would for baking, and then slide the pan into the freezer for 20 minutes or so until the dough has hardened. Remove from freezer, pull dough balls off the sheet and place into a freezer bag or other freezeproof container, and you can have ready to eat cookies in the time it takes to preheat the oven.
If you enjoy a gooey-centered cookie, this method is an added bonus. Simply “mostly” thaw the cookies before baking, and you’ll always have a gooey, chocolate-y, pecan-filled cookie center. And no department store shopping is required to spot that decadence, no matter the decade.
The Neiman Marcus $250 Cookie
from American Cookie: The Snaps, Drops, Jumbles, Tea Cakes, Bars & Brownies That We Have Loved for Generations, Rodale Books, Penguin Random House, 2018.
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ c. old-fashioned oats
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. Salt
2 c. (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
⅔ c. (4 oz.) semisweet or milk chocolate, grated
1 ½ c. chopped pecans or walnuts