So I have a secret to share with you, which makes it not like a secret at all, but I feel I must confess. Are you ready? Here goes… as of two days ago, I’d never been to Levain Bakery. A sin, I know, but I made good on my promise of going someday and went to the bakery yesterday when I was in the city for the day. I was starting to feel pretty lame about having made TWO copycat cookie recipes, and never even having been to the place. Does that make me a poser? Perhaps, but I’m okay with that. However now I can say I’ve been, and without a doubt, that it changed my life.
If you’ve never been to Levain Bakery, it is certainly a surprise upon arrival. I guess if you go there having no expectations you won’t feel the same, but for some reason I had built it up to be this grand place in my mind, and it seemed so simple! I went to the Upper West Side location, and it’s a tiny little hole in the wall. Outside there is a small white and blue sign with the name, but to enter you have to walk down some stairs into what feels like a cramped basement. When we arrived it was packed, and everyone seemed to know what they wanted. We stood there staring, trying to take it all in, but in NYC nobody has time to wait for you so we got pushed around and lots of nasty looks while we were trying to make up our minds. As a result, we got one of every cookie, and a raisin sticky bun for good measure. The bag weighed about 5 lbs when all was said and done, and my father couldn’t believe he’d dropped $20 for 5 baked goods. Oh well, he’d realize later just how worth it those cookies were.
We were shopping for the day, so I carried those precious cookies all over the city so they wouldn’t melt in the car! We broke into the Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip first, and then shared the Chocolate Chip Walnut cookie during our concert. The Chocolate Chip Walnut cookie was honestly the best cookie I have ever eaten, hands down. I wanted to badly to figure out how they make them — this soft and gooey mess that breaks apart the second you bite into it. It’s almost raw in the centers, but who ever died of raw cookie dough consumption? Certainly no one I know. We’ve still got the Oatmeal Raisin and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip to eat, and I’m drooling even thinking about it. 8:30am isn’t too early to start eating cookies right? Cookies for breakfast!
So anyway, I made it to Levain Bakery, and I know for a fact I’ll be there again, and again, and again, on every NYC trip I make for the rest of my life. And once I start to understand better the actual science behind baking, I’m going to figure out how to make that cookie. Until then, you’re stuck with my most recent attempt, which at the time seemed good, but absolutely pales in comparison to the real thing.
I made these cookies for work last week. I wanted to make a really good chocolate chip cookie recipe, and so I looked at a bunch and decided on my own sort of concoction. The result was a very hearty cookie, not crumbly or chewy, but not really too dry either. I threw in some chopped up Heath Bars for good measure, and the bites with the heath bar were best. I was content with them at the time, but looking back, I want to do better. As usual, I added in some white whole wheat flour, and a bit of applesauce to make up for some of the butter because I was nearly out. I used a bit more flour than I’d have liked, but that’s something to note for next time. The cookies were good — definitely fine for one-a-day after lunch or dinner, but now that I know whats out there, I will never be content with just “good”.
Levain Copycat Cookies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until well blended and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips/chunks and nuts.
3. The dough will be thick, so if necessary transfer it to clean work surface and gently mix dough by hand to ensure even distribution of ingredients. At this point, you can either bake the cookie right away, or chill the dough. I chilled my dough first, and I think that worked well. When ready to bake them, portion to whatever size you’d like — I made about 18 cookies, but for jumbo more Levain-inspired cookies, you could make 12 really large ones.
4. Place each cookie on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (or on a silpat) and bake in the preheated oven 14-16 minutes depending on how gooey you like the interior, until very lightly browned, taking care not to overbake. Let cool on rack and store what you don’t immediately eat in an airtight container. These cookies freeze well.
So there you have it. Reviewing the recipe though, and the several I looked at when making it, I’ve already got some ideas about what to do next, and am going to give another recipe a try sometime soon! I’ve got a busy baking week ahead, but that’s exactly how I like it.
With love, and sugar. Enjoy!