Sunday, September 10, 2023

Levain Inspired Chocolate Chip Cookies

Levain Inspired Chocolate Chip Cookies

Being a big fan of cooking shows and YouTube in general, I'd seen the Levain cookies reviewed several times, and everyone seemed to conclude that they are the BEST chocolate chip cookie of New York, if not the world. 

Since I had no immediate plans to visit NY, I never really thought I'd get a chance to try the actual cookie. We did take a trip to Washington DC this past summer, though, and Georgetown had a Levain bakery. I told my husband that Levain was my number 2 tourist priority after the obvious touring of most of the Smithsonian and the National Mall.

I'll cut to the chase: the Levain Cookie, although large, gooey, and beautifully colored, didn't live up to my expectations. I mean, how could it? I probably broke into it too soon because it was fresh out of the oven (I had to wait a bit for my order to bake), but still, the one thing I noticed was a lack of flavor. Yeah. Flavor. My husband surreptitiously took a video of my comments, and I declared after tasting, "It needs salt." Actually I thought it needed vanilla too. I brought some cookies home for my foodie son to try, and his first comment upon tasting the chocolate chip walnut cookie was, "Needs salt." Maybe we just like salt around here.

This recipe here is adapted from Cupcake Jemma's version. I've added vanilla to the recipe and increased the salt and baking soda. I cut the size of the cookie in half because 1. I don't like uncooked dough in the center and 2. I'm not selling these at a bakery. As it is, the 60 gram cookie is like eating 2 normal sized chocolate chip cookies. 

I cut back the size even further in later iterations because I wanted to try it and because I'm taking them to an event.

So why do I like THESE cookies enough to keep making them and commit them to this blog? First of all, they taste great. Maybe not my favorite CCC recipe, but very tasty. They're soft, thick, and baked all the way through. They kind of crumble a little like an American buttermilk biscuit, so when I eat one I break off a bite at a time, and I usually heat it up in the microwave for about 11 seconds too. Second of all, unlike lots of other CCC recipes, these still taste great even 2-3 days after baking. I usually won't eat a CCC after day 2, but these are the exception. Overall, a crowd-pleasing cookie.

I've written much more than I intended here, so without further ado, here's the recipe:

Levain Inspired Chocolate Chip Cookies (NOT a copycat recipe)

Adapted from Cupcake Jemma's Recipe on Youtube

  • 230 g unsalted butter, cold, cut into tablespoon size chunks
  • 160 g granulated sugar
  • 160 g brown sugar
  • 450 g chocolate chips (I used Nestle semi-sweet morsels)
  • 200 g walnut pieces (optional)
  • 230 g self-rising flour*
  • 200 g all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • (Scroll to the photos at the end to see what this unconventional process looks like.)
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the cold butter and mix on low for about a minute, just to break up the butter--do not cream the butter.
  • Add the granulated and brown sugar to the butter and mix again on low/medium low until little nuggets of butter & sugar form--again, do not cream this mixture.
  • Add the chocolate chips and walnuts (if desired), and mix again just to incorporate the chocolate chips and nuts.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a whisk until completely mixed. 
  • Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/chocolate/nuts mixture in the mixing bowl and mix on low until combined, about 30-45 seconds. It will still be dry and sandy looking.
  • Add the vanilla to the egg mixture and then add that to the mixture. Mix on low/medium low until dough starts to come together, but do not mix long enough to create a completely cohesive dough.
  • Using a large cookie scoop or a large spoon, make 60 gram gently formed balls of dough -- it's best if you don't pack the dough into a tight ball. Then flatten each ball into a disk that's about an inch thick.
  • Cover and freeze dough disks at least 90 minutes before baking.Preheat oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place in the oven to get hot while the oven preheats.
  • When pan and oven are heated, remove the pan from the oven, place frozen dough disks on pan allowing a couple of inches between them.
  • Bake at 360 degrees for about 14-15 minutes, until puffed and starting to crack. Take care to not over-bake. Underbaked is better than over-baked.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheet at least five minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Alternately, if you have a rimless baking sheet, you can slide the parchment with the baked cookie sheets onto a cooling rack to cool until ready to eat, about 5-10 minutes. This is what I try to do so the cookies will not continue to bake on the hot baking sheet.
  • Place unbaked dough disks in a zip top freezer bag and store in the freezer until you want more cookies. 
  • Store baked and cooled cookies in an airtight container.
  • Heat cooled cookies in the microwave on high for 10 seconds if you want to melt the chocolate and make the insides gooey again.
Makes about 30 cookies

*You can mix your own self-rising flour by combining 2 cups all purpose flour with 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then use just 230 grams of that for this recipe. Save or toss what's leftover...OR use the following measurements if you don't want to bother with mixing the self-rising flour:
  • 230 g unsalted butter, cold, cut into tablespoon size chunks
  • 160 g granulated sugar
  • 160 g brown sugar
  • 450 g chocolate chips 
  • 200 g walnut pieces (optional)
  • 430 g all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Make sure the butter is COLD.

Just break up the butter -- don't cream it.

You'll still have chunks of butter after mixing in the sugars.

Yeah, the chips go in before the flour, and the egg goes in at the end.

Everything but the egg and vanilla here.

The dough is never a cohesive mass.

I actually do use a kitchen scale for this.

Frozen dough balls going into the oven now.


These ones have nuts. The dough mixed above didn't have them.

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