Schermer at Home: Anne Byrn, cookbook author

Schermer at Home: Anne Byrn, cookbook author

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

  1. Place a rack in the top third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Set aside 2 ungreased baking sheets.
  2. Place the soft butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, 1-2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and add the eggs and vanilla. Beat on low speed until combined and smooth, 1 minute.
  3. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse the oats until finely ground, 10-15 seconds. Transfer the oatmeal to a medium-size bowl and add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisky to combine the dry ingredients, and dump the oatmeal and flour mixture into the bowl with the batter. Beat on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips, grated chocolate, and nuts. Drop the batter by heaping 1” tablespoonfuls, 2” apart on the baking sheets. Place in the oven.
  5. Bake the cookies until they just begin to crisp around the edges but are still a little soft in the center, 8-10 minutes. Let rest on the pan for 1 minute, then transfer with a metal spatula to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough. Store the cookies in an airtight container.

Keep In Touch

We'll send recipes, coupons and special alerts no more than twice a month.