When our friends Jordan and Pierre showed up for a weekend visit, Jordan had a tiny, unfancy insulated cooler hung over her wrist. It didn’t have rhinestones or peacock feathers or other such come-hither accoutrements. It wasn’t pink. It wasn’t even purple. But I set my sights on it right away. And the minute I spied that baby, I knew I had to have whatever was inside. Maybe it’s not surprising that a girl who’s all about the fifth taste would also have a sixth sense. Sure enough, I do.
I dispensed with the usual pleasantries faster than usual. “Hi-how-are-you-guys-SO-great-to-see-you!” issued forth at once, the tongue moving with manic agility. And then, a little too loudly, “What’s in THE COOLER?!” With an adorable one-year-old in the mix, I knew I was hedging my bets against an answer like, “Oh, just some breast milk I pumped in the car.” But as they say in the high-stakes world of edible hostess gifts, no risk, no reward.
My risk was rewarded handsomely.
The $250 Neiman Marcus/Mrs. Fields cookie recipe has confounded a lot of people over the years, but I think it’s safe to say that no one has fallen farther into its clutches than Jordan herself. Many of us have heard the rumor that Neiman Marcus (probably Mrs. Fields –> Marshall Fields –> Neiman Marcus, in a years-long game of telephone) sold their “famous” cookie recipe to a customer for $250, who had only agreed to buy it because she thought she’d be paying $2.50. Oh, too-fiddy, you wily bastard. Jordan, though, didn’t fall for any run-of-the-mill con game like the rest of us. Nope, she was the victim of an elaborate, personally targeted ruse hatched by her own mother. When Jordan’s mom came home with the recipe courtesy of a neighbor we’ll call Mrs. Garibaldi, she told Jordan that it was called Mrs. Fields’ Cookies because, while ensconced in a former, ultimately unsuccessful marriage with a gentleman by the name of Mr. Fields, Mrs. Garibaldi had started a small cookie company which subsequently grew into a multinational conglomerate. Jordan was overjoyed to know that she moved about in the same circles as a world-renowned cookie maven. What could she say? The 1980s were a beautiful time to be a kid in America.
Mrs. Garibaldi, though, did not approve. An upstanding Southerner, and a Catholic, to boot, she was horrified that the young, impressionable Jordan thought she was a divorcee. A divorcee! A scandal of that magnitude wasn’t nearly as shelf-stable as Mrs. Fields’ cookies, and Mrs. Garibaldi (N/F/K/A Mrs. Fields) soon laid that rumor to rest. The recipe lived on in Jordan’s family, but in a rebranding effort aimed at wholesomeness and grandmotherly love, it’s now called Gigi’s Super Cookies.
Back in the modern era, having arrived for the weekend, Jordan quickly redeemed herself by replacing any hint of gullibility with pure genius. The cooler contained one of the most fabulous hostess gifts ever known to womankind. Jordan had scooped raw Gigi’s Super Cookie batter into perfect little chocolate- and nut-studded golf balls and frozen them so we could bake them at our leisure. It may have been the buzz of frozen cookie ball potential energy coursing through the cooler walls that tipped me off in the first place. It could have been kinetic energy, even, frozen cookie balls dancing like frenzied atoms until we unzipped the lid and they stopped on a dime, playing dead for the gullible people-folk. When cookies have a storied history like these do, you can never be sure what you’re in for. Luckily for guests and hosts alike, a gift of frozen cookie balls (especially ones that come with a bonus tale of fame, fortune, and deception) immediately rights all wrongs. It sets you up for a memorable weekend visit and even has a 99.9% success rate of getting you invited back.
And if you believe that one, have I got a cookie recipe for you.
Talk to you soon.
The Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe (Gigi's Super Cookies)
To freeze dough balls, place in the freezer on parchment-lined baking sheets until solid, then bag by the dozen to gift, save for up to a month, or...ahem...eat. Add one to two minutes to the cooking time when baking from frozen.
- 2 cups unsalted butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 24 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (such as Ghirardelli 60% cacao)
- 8 ounces Hershey's chocolate bars, broken into chunks
- 3 cups very roughly chopped walnuts, pecans, or a combination
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until lightened in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir together with a wooden spoon. Add the oats and stir to combine. Then stir in the chocolate chips, Hershey's bars, and nuts.
To bake, preheat the oven to 375°F. Using your hands or a couple of spoons, form the batter into loose, golf-ball-sized mounds. Place two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for six to nine minutes, until tops are just golden and cookies are still soft. On the off chance there are any cookies left once they're cool enough to handle, cool them completely on racks before storing in an airtight container for up to a couple of days.