Two things I’ve always wanted: 1) cookies from the famous Levain Bakery 2) really, really big muscles. Unfortunately for me, I’m yet to acquire either (working on it) so for today’s review I brought in someone who has.
My friend Matt Stolz recently found himself in NYC for the International Natural Bodybuilding Federation World Championships. There, he took a very impressive 2nd place in the lightweight division. As excited as Matt was for the contest, he was nearly as excited about his eating itenerary. Here are his thoughts on Levain.Chocolate Chocolate Chip
Here’s the deal with Levain Bakery: Everyone has their ideal chocolate chip cookie. Mine is thick, dense, packed with chocolate chips, and baked only to the point to give it a light brown exterior. I want the inside to remain really warm, gooey, and dough-like. The more gooey-chocolatey-goodness you can pack into a single cookie, the better. That’s the cookie I shoot for when I bake. That’s the cookie I secretly wish any other cookie I am eating was. That’s the cookie I dream about. It also happens to be the EXACT cookie that they are baking at Levain Bakery.Chocolate Chip Walnut
There’s almost always a decent line going out the door and onto the street, but it’s absolutely worth the wait. Once inside, you’re immediately at the counter. There’s only enough room for about 6 people, and that counter, behind which are trays of cookies and scones, and wonderful, magic ovens. The line moves fast as there are a limited amount ofchoices, and pretty much everyone knows what they want: the famous chocolate chip walnut cookie (I ordered two). I also grabbed a chocolate-chocolate chip to round things out.Apparently this is what 2nd place looks like
These cookies are 6oz of perfection. Yeah. I said 6 OUNCES. They are like mountains of warm gooey cookie dough. Picture something the size and appearance of a scone, but made out of cookie dough. It’s even better than it sounds. Basically, if you are ever in NYC, you need to stop here. If you have been to NYC and DIDN’T stop here, you missed out. If you LIVE in NYC and haven’t been here, what are you waiting for?and this is winning
The cookies are available online, but niether Matt nor I imagine they could compare to freshly baked. I’m planning on visiting Manhattan soon enough, but for the rest of you Matt has perfected a copy-cat recipe listed below.
Matt’s Grade: A+
Levain Copycat Cookies
2 sticks ‘cold and cubed’ unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar – not packed too hard. Just spoon it in the cup(s) and press down lightly when full, sweeping off any extra that runs over.
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups AP flour – Spoon and Sweep method. (feel the dough, it should be moist, kind of like cold cookie dough in a tube.. but not super sticky, so you can portion the cookies with your hands)
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4-1 teaspoon baking powder ( I don’t fill the tsp fully, hence the 3/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups good quality semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (I usually use half semisweet and half milk chocolate AND, a little birdy told me they use Guittard)
1 cup walnuts (Toast the nuts for more flavor, if desired and/or use any kind of nut you like. I love macadamias in these)
1. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, cream together butter and sugars until well blended and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time.. and beat until JUST creamed and fluffy
2. Add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and mix until just combined (do not mix beforehand). Gently fold in chocolate chunks and nuts.
3. Transfer dough to clean work surface and gently mix dough by hand to ensure even distribution of ingredients. Divide into 12 equal portions, **about 4 oz each. Place the portioned dough in the freezer for at least a couple hours. It doesnt have to be totally frozen but definitely firm.
4. Preheat oven to 375. Place the now well-chilled doughballs immediately from the freezer onto a parchment-papered baking sheet and into the preheated oven. Bake for 16-20 minutes until lightly browned, but still soft and gooey on the inside.