Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Levain Copycats

Happy June, everyone! I hope everyone had a great Memorials Day weekend. This is an amazing recipe to start off the new month. I think this cookie has just become my new favorite chocolate chip cookie! This is a copycat recipe of the chocolate chip walnut cookies from Levain Bakery. Levain seems to be pretty well known, but if you don't know what I'm talking about, they're a bakery up in New York that sells monstrous 6 oz. cookies of four different kinds: chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and dark chocolate peanut butter chip. They're famous for being crazy ooey gooey on the inside, with a nice crunch on the outside and of course, their monstrous size. If you go to their website, you can see some pictures of the inside of their amazing cookies. The funny thing about all this? I've never actually had one of their cookies. I've only been to NY once, and we never got a chance to go up there, but I've still dreamed about having one of those amazing chocolate chip walnuts since I heard about them. I actually had walnuts in the pantry for once, so I had to settle for the copycat for now.
A baked cookie compared to a fortune cookie. (The cookie dough ball below step 4 is compared to a quarter.)

The copycat recipe that I used seems to be the one that's pretty much settled on as THE copycat recipe to use. If you type in "Levain copycat recipe" into Google, this particular recipe is the one that always comes up. The only difference I spotted was varying amounts of baking powder/soda. One version of the recipe contains more baking powder than soda (which was the one that I used) and one contains more baking soda than powder. I may try the other one next time, but the one I used was so amazing that I'm not sure if I want to! The cookie was wonderfully chewy and had great flavor, and honestly made me wonder why I don't put walnuts in my chocolate chip cookies more often. The recipe doesn't have any vanilla in it (which the owners of Levain have stated that they don't use) and I actually did taste a difference in the dough. As a lover of vanilla extract, this has kind of boggled me. Maybe I might try not putting any vanilla in some of my tried and true cookie recipes just to see what a difference it makes? All I know is that you have to try this recipe. If the actual Levain cookies taste anything like these copycats, they have to be out of this world!

Levain Copycats (from the commenter Lisa on Su Good Sweets)
Makes 12 BIG cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I only needed 3 1/4 cups...more notes below)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I used a rounded 1/4)
  • 12 oz (2 cups) good quality semisweet chocolate chips (I only used 6 oz of semisweet chunks and it was plenty, but feel free to use however much chocolate you want)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. (For the flour, Lisa said to go by the feel of the dough. You want the dough to be workable by your hands without it being sticky or sticking very little. I only needed 3 1/4 cups of flour and the dough was perfectly workable without being sticky at all. She didn't clarify on the baking soda, however, so I just put in a rounded 1/4 teaspoon.)
  2. Place the cold, cubed butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until it becomes creamy. Add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at time, mixing until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time until fully incorporated. Add the chocolate and walnuts and mix in by hand or on the lowest speed of your mixer.

  4. Portion the dough into 12 equal portions (Lisa said that each portion will weigh more like 4 oz. instead of 6. I don't have a scale however, so I'm going by her word.) Refrigerate the dough until completely chilled or overnight. (You can skip this step, but I highly recommend that you don't. Refrigeration allows for a much chewier cookie.)

  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Situate the cookies about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (they don't spread that much, so don't worry about that). Bake for 16 to 20 minutes. (I baked for 16 minutes at 350 and then turned it up to 375 and baked for 5 minutes more and they were perfect. Use your better judgement.) Cool on the cookie sheet slightly and then remove to wire racks.

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