Sometimes, you just need a cookie. They’re the perfect cure for a long day or a rough week, and the ideal solution for a serious sugar craving. Personally I think they’re best with loads of chocolate, crispy on the edges and oh-so-chewy in the centers. They can do no wrong by me. After I received a Levain Bakery cookie from my Foodie Pen Pal last month, and after Kevin adamantly insisted on a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, I decided to try my hand at another Levain copycat recipe. This time I went for chocolate chip walnut, and I was thrilled with the end result. The cookies had a great shape, with a crispy-all-over exterior that yielded to a soft, gooey center. YUM!
Historically I’ve found that most Levain Bakery copycat cookies can’t match the real thing in sheer size. Not only are they huge around, they are also really tall, and I think that’s the signature secret that they’ve managed to achieve, and keep from greedy people like me who want to replicate what they do in my own home kitchen. Their cookies stay tall without being dry and cakey or light and airy in the middle – quite the contrary, they are extremely dense and chewy, with some serious heft.
These cookies were as close as I’ve come to replicating the magic that comes out of that little Upper West Side bakery – in size and in taste. The significant amounts of butter and sugar in this recipe make for an extraordinarily crispy shell on the outside that crunches when you take a bite, which I just love. What I love more, though, is that when you get through the crunchy outer layer you expose a whole new cookie beast inside – something thick and dense, but also soft and chewy, loaded with chocolate chunks and lightly toasted walnuts. If you bake the cookies for just the right amount of time, you can get the centers to be just barely set, which is my FAVORITE. There is really nothing better than a just-set cookie, hot out of the oven, with a tall glass of milk. Mmmm!
In order for these cookies to come out best, they do need to be portioned into rather large balls of dough. What I’d normally portion as one cookie is only about half, or maybe even 1/3 of the size of how I portioned the dough for these. I ended up diving the dough into 12 equal pieces, and that seemed to make a perfectly super-sized cookie. Until these, I never knew having only ONE cookie for dessert could be so satisfying! The other key to these cookies is to chill the dough – even for just 30-45 minutes before they go in the oven. If the dough it cold when it goes in to bake, the oven has to take more time just warming it up, and the dough has less time to spread. My second batch, which sat in the fridge for probably close to an hour, came out near-perfect.
I also subbed in 1 cup of cake flour, which I think gives the cookies a better texture. Bake these cookies until JUST set – the cookies pictured were just barely soft in the middle when they came out. Cook them any longer and they get extra crispy on the edges, and aren’t as pliable once they cool. Still absolutely DELICIOUS, don’t get me wrong, but not quite the same affect.
They’re best straight out of the oven, but keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days, and reheat amazingly.
ENJOY! These are a special treat.
Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
barely adapted from Parsley and Sage
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (toasted for a bit more flavor!)
1) In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until well blended and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated.
2) In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips and nuts, and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated (you can do this with your hands if need be!). Divide dough into 12 equal portions, about 4 oz each.
3) Place each on sheet pan lined with parchment paper. You can bake straight away if you’d like, but I would recommend putting the portioned cookie balls into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4) When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Bake cookies in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on how gooey you’d like the interior), until very lightly browned, taking care not to overbake. Let cool on rack and store in an airtight container.
* I learned when I made these that Levain Bakery doesn’t use vanilla extract in their cookies. I didn’t even notice here, but if you prefer to use it, go ahead and ass 1 teaspoon when you add the eggs.