Levain Bakery NYC – guest review & recipe

by Rodzilla on December 15, 2011 · 17 comments

Levain DBL Choc

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.

Levain DBL Choc 2 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.

Levain Chocolate Chip 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.

Matt on stage 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?

Levain Matt Eating 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 Bakery on Urbanspoon

Levain Copycat Cookies

Ingredients
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.
2 eggs
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)

Directions

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.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Spencer

Dem quads…. ffffuarrrk

2 Lisa

omg. i live in NYC and not only have I not been there, I never HEARD OF IT.
yes. I do live under a rock. -___-

3 Kevin

First things first, great job, Matt! Mucho congrats.

Secondly, I, too, can vouch for the sheer bliss that is a warm Levain cookie. Between the Chocolate Chip Walnut, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip, they are all super good, and you can’t go wrong with any of them (I’m sure the Oatmeal Raisin is really good, too, but the other choices kinda blow it out of the water). When you come to NYC, Roddy, you have to go to the bakery yourself to try them when they’re warm.

4 Matt

Lisa,

I wasnt kidding that it is a hidden gem! Like I said, people who live right beside it didn’t even know of the glory that is Levain. I highly suggest you place it high on your to-do list

5 Smile

Congrats on the great placement, Matt!

On to the cookie; oh my cookie monster! Excuse me while I hop on a plane to NYC. I completely agree with you on cookie textures. Very rarely do I care for my cookies to be thin and/or crispy. Basically, I want a nice chunk of warm cookie dough (large pieces of gooey chocolate is a happy bonus) and those look.. perfect!

6 Chuck

Great post by both of you- those look hella good!

The chocolate peanut butter ones look great. I am almond butter energy “cookies” this weekend

7 Santiago Cardona

Wait, so where’s this copycat recipe?

8 Matt

@Santiago:

Ingredients

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.
2 eggs
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)
Directions

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.

FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS. if you do it differently, they dont always come out well. baking time and the amount of flour varies a little. I used 3-1/4 cups.

9 Santiago Cardona

Thanks. Going to try out very very soon.

10 Santiago Cardona

Quick question. How is it possible to cream the butter with the sugars if the butter is still cold?

11 davidr521

Matt,

Congrats!

However, the first thought I had when I saw that thing in your hands was…

Ewwww! A buffalo chip!! He’s eatin’ a cow turd!

I hope they taste better than they look…

12 Kim Valentine

oh.my.god. The chocolate one looks heavenly.

13 Anna

I think I’ve tried almost every Levain copy cat there is. This one’s next! Stirring just until mixed and not adding any extra air to the batter seems to be key.

14 Laura L.

I saw the first image of your guest reviewer’s hand holding the cookie and wondered what the reviewer had previously been touching – his hand looked filthy. Then I read he’s a bodybuilder – so it’s spray tanner. OK then, that beats pretty much all alternatives for why a hand holding a cookie looks so dirty.

15 Matt

@ Santiago: the butter still creams cold, it just takes a little more… convincing(?) than a room temp butter would.

@david: what part of those doesnt look downright amazing???

@kim: you would be correct

@Anna: I think the other key is definitely cooking directly from the freezer!

@Laura: you dont wanna know what I had to do for these cookies….

Also, just made the copycat recipe again last night. confirmed. it still works.

16 RB

This post reminds me of the warm Nestle cookies that Burger King used to sell. They probably pale in comparison to these, but those cookies were probably as close as I will ever get and they are missed.

17 I Just Want To Eat!

I just went last Saturday and had the Dark chocolate chocolate chip cookie: it was the best I ever had! It was oozing chocolate and had so intense chocolate flavors that I do not see how a chocolate lover cannot love this! Definitely to try!

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