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Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies

by on April 30, 2008 · 82 comments

…it’s a cookie photo.

After all the fuss over Levain cookies, a reader named Katrina promised that when she went to New York, she’d go to the Levain bakery, take a photo of the cookie and give a review. Well, here’s the photo.  And by the way, holy cow.  Katrina’s review is after the photo.

UPDATE:  Recipe for a similar cookie can be found her — Cookie Madness Levain Cookie Copy Cat

Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Katrina’s Review:

I really thought I wasn’t going to like the Levain cookie and thought it was going to be cakey or just too high and fat, but I must tell you–I LOVED IT! Fresh and warm it was delicious. I did not miss the vanilla either. It was also quite good the next day and even after bringing one home and eating some yesterday it was still pretty good, although definitely not AS good as fresh. I’m putting the Levain at the top of my chocolate chip cookie list. It was yum-o. (Now I want to try the copy cat recipes.) Measured from top to bottom its highest point was about an inch and a half. I also tried the other three kinds. Did not care for the oatmeal raisin cookie. It was as if they make a dough (not even really the same type dough as chocolate chip) and just throw in a small amount of oatmeal. There just was not enough oatmeal and this one really missed flavor–like vanilla and maybe some cinnamon. I also LOVED the chocolate peanut butter chip cookie. And although it was good, thought the triple chocolate cookie was too darn rich.

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Published on April 30, 2008

{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin Mylroie April 30, 2008 at 7:02 am

Holy Smokes! I don’t usually crave cookies before 7AM, but this one got me. Anna, please use your genius to crack the code on this one. I need one!

Hallie April 30, 2008 at 7:06 am

OMG, I need that cookie right now. Wow, it looks so good. I think I might be drooling.

Anna April 30, 2008 at 7:14 am

Erin and Hallie, a couple of people worked on a good clone (invented by Lisa) a few months ago. Of course, I am at a disadvantage because I’ve never tried the original. This is the base model we’ve been working with. It looks more like the photo if you chill the dough thoroughly before baking.

Levain Copy Cats (from Lisa’s)

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold**** might be European style, not sure.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour (13 ½ oz)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces (2 cups) good quality semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts)

If using dough right away, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (It’s best to chill, though)

In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and both sugars just until creamy. Don’t overbeat. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until incorporated.

Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. When thoroughly mixed, add to batter and stir just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips (Note: You can also try adding the dry ingredients directly to the butter mixture)

Divide dough into 12 big 4 lumps. Bake on ungreased cookies sheets (one sheet at a time).
Bake times:

Put the cookies in a 375 degree oven and set timer for 8 minutes. When timer rings, without opening oven or removing cookies, reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until cookies appear set.

Otherwise, you can bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes or until done.

Makes 12

Erin Mylroie April 30, 2008 at 7:42 am

Thanks for printing it again. I remember now. I’m glad you put in the vanilla. I couldn’t leave it out. I’m loyal to my old friend vanilla.

Katrina April 30, 2008 at 8:26 am

I am going to try it today. Thanks for sharing my post, Anna. Dang, that picture takes me back (to last week) and the cookie is worth every dime of its $3.75. It was SO good, especially warm right after buying it and sitting on the bench right outside the bakery. We’ll see how I do on the clone, I’m going to follow the Vahlrona recipe from SuGoodSweets, but I am going to use vanilla. Let you know.

Michelle W. in Calif. April 30, 2008 at 8:31 am

WOW! I don’t think I ever got my copy cats that high, and I tried both Anna’s and Lisa’s from SuGood Sweets! That pic makes me want to try again. Can’t imagine a ccc without vanilla though! Don’t think I can omit that…

Julie O'Hara April 30, 2008 at 8:37 am

I don’t imagine I’d love the levain cookies, but mostly because I’d keep imagining my thighs expanding while eating it. But that cookie looks awesome…Katrina, are there nuts in there?

VeggieGirl April 30, 2008 at 9:10 am

food porn!!

Lisa Ernst April 30, 2008 at 9:36 am

Wow! That photo looks so good. The Levian cookies look to be absolutely loaded with chocolate. That’s the one thing I wondered about related to the copy cat recipes, which seemed a little short on chocolate. I may have to try one of the copy cat recipes now, after seeing this photo, and I’ll just add more chips! :-)

Katrina April 30, 2008 at 9:57 am

It does have walnuts. They do not have one that is chocolate only. Their chocolate cookie with peanut butter chips was also divine, the triple chocolate cookie is good, but too rich for me and their oatmeal cookie was just okay, nothing great, not enough oatmeal and too much dough. But YUM on this one. Loved it.

sam April 30, 2008 at 10:57 am

Holy Cow indeed! I waaaaant onnnnnne!

Lisa April 30, 2008 at 11:51 am

Oh, don’t those look good. Looks like you need a giant glass of milk to go with it. I will definitely go there when I visit NYC.

I made your Chocolate PB cream cheese brownies today and they were fabulous! Running over to my daughter’s school with them.

Jen April 30, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Levain Bakery’s chocolate chip and walnut cookies are my all time favorites! Every time someone comes visit me in NY I take to try “the best cookies they will ever have” and up until now they have all agreed!

Steph Bachman April 30, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Oh, my. That looks heavenly!

This is off-topic, but did you ever finish the Larabar clone that you were working on? If you did (and even if it wasn’t awesome), could I please have the recipe? Can’t seem to figure out which category it is in.

Kitchen Scrapbook April 30, 2008 at 2:03 pm

That cookie looks like it’s to die for!!!! This is a great site. Cookies are my weakness! I’ve gotta try some of these recipes.

Elise April 30, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Ahhh! This is making me drool on my computer at work. Ok, yuck, sorry. But really, about Levain’s cookies (I’ve only had the classic chocolate chip-walnut) – they are even more huge and almost scone-like in size than this picture would let you believe.

I have no idea how they do it (must be very cold butter?) but the insides are soft like cookie dough and the outsides are perfectly crispy and crunchy.

I have tried, with some success, making cookies like these by just making gargantuan, snowball-sized balls of cookie dough and baking until the outside looks brown. Good luck!

Ashley April 30, 2008 at 2:22 pm

OMFG I NEED THAT RIGHT THIS SECOND IT LOOKS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD

Rachel B. April 30, 2008 at 3:45 pm

I wonder if even a higher baking temperature would do the trick of achieving the inside/outside contrast described. While staying in an old cottage with my family once, I baked some big scoops of leftover chilled chocolate chip cookie dough I had brought along. For better or worse, I smelled those cookies baking very soon–and rushed to the oven to pull them out!! The oven had gone haywire and shot up to the 400′s+. The outsides of the cookies were crunchy-crusty, and the insides were still cookie-doughy. I don’t recommend baking them at TOO high a temp–some of these were rather burnt–but it’s an idea.

Jane April 30, 2008 at 4:17 pm

*drool*

pupilindenial April 30, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Is it just me or does anyone else think the Levain cookie leaves a lot to be desired? It’s lacking a bit of salt, and the mouthfeel is way too liquidy. It really does taste like cookie dough with a browned crust, which I guess is good if you’re into that sort of thing.

Anna April 30, 2008 at 7:19 pm

Pupilindenial,

Yes! There are a lot of people who think Levain is quite over-rated, which is why I found it interesting that Katrina (who is very, very picky…but in a good way) loved the cookies. Maybe she went on a good day or tends to like fatter, softer, doughier cookies. I’m not sure.

Michelle W. in Calif. April 30, 2008 at 7:24 pm

I DO like cookie dough with a browned crust! :-)

Katrina April 30, 2008 at 7:53 pm

pupilindenial and anyone else who cares,

I’m not sure what it was either, as I was fully prepared to NOT really like the cookie. Maybe it was because we had walked a ton in NYC that day and were delighted to finally be at the bakery, but to me, it was delicious. I have tried both copy cat recipes today and think I have the look of it down, just not quite the taste. Don’t know what it is. Maybe I should try it without the vanilla? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I even ate a Jacques Torres cookie warm and fresh that same day and thought the Levain was much better. It really does depend on what kind of cookie one likes. I didn’t think the Levain was doughy at all. (But must say, I do love cookie dough.)
All I know is two things: when I’m in NY again someday, I WILL be getting some more cookies from Levain and I know that I need to stop trying to make them at home. I can’t keep eating like this…..but it’s been great while it’s lasted. And now, back to the treadmill.

Katrina April 30, 2008 at 7:55 pm

P. S. You have to admit, that picture of that cookie does look good! ;)

Brittany April 30, 2008 at 8:09 pm

I definitely made some sort of verbal exclamation when I saw that photo. I don’t think it was words though. Wow. That is a rediculous cookie.

Drool.

Kate April 30, 2008 at 8:32 pm

I’ve been following your posts about the Levain cookies, but didn’t realize until just now that it is one and the same as my favorite hole-in-the-wall bakery in NYC. I am not a fan of cake-y cookies, and they certainly look like they would be, but they manage to be thick and soft and gooey all at the same time. Truly, heaven.

Emiline May 1, 2008 at 12:28 am

Well, that’s just amazing looking.

Marc @ NoRecipes May 1, 2008 at 7:19 am

WOW I need to go find this place. Looks like the perfect cookie

Dawn May 1, 2008 at 7:31 am

Whoa! I remember seeing those two girls that own Levin on Food Network with Bobby Flay. The cookie looked good on the show, but I had no idea the cookie was that big and thick! I have been looking for a clone recipe too.
I loved how they made the cookie so big but yet the middle is still cooked through. Most places when the cookie is that thick the middle is never cooked and its raw. This is the perfect cookie.
Thanks for sharing!! There goes the diet today…I’m making these bad boys today.

Katrina May 1, 2008 at 7:42 am

As for looks, I haven’t been able to post my pictures yet, but both recipes-the one from Su Good Sweets and Anna’s Big Fat Copy Cat recipe look a lot like Levains, but neither quite have the taste–darn it. I’m trying to figure it out, but need to stop eating cookies for a bit. Both recipes do make a yummy cookie though. I recommend just going to Levains when in New York to try it for yourselves. It’s worth it to me.

Anna, question, my mom makes baked goods for their local farmer’s market in Idaho and she has been using the recipe Best, Big, Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Allrecipes website. While it really is a good cookie and recipe, she wants to try to find another choclate chip to try and it needs to freeze well. Any suggestions? Sometimes the cookie is froze, then thawed at the market, and if not sold, refrozen again. They are always yummy as they don’t last for too long before being sold. Just wondering if you have a favorite. Thanks!

sharon May 1, 2008 at 7:57 am

On a plane to NYC…we don’t have such treats in Cali!

Jenny May 1, 2008 at 8:17 am

All I can say is WOW. I’d be a happy girl with that fat cookie in my hand right now!

diva@theSugarBar May 1, 2008 at 9:16 am

hello gorgeous, and yep i’m talkin to the cookie. jokes. it looks insanely good!! the size of it blows me away. love the pictures, thanks for sharing.

Natalie May 1, 2008 at 10:01 am

WOW! That looks like the most amazing chocolate chip cookie ever.

Christy May 1, 2008 at 10:14 am

Congrats on being on TasteSpotting.

Lisa Ernst May 1, 2008 at 10:46 am

For those of you who are dying to try the Levain Bakery cookies, but can’t get to New York any time soon, you can get them by mail. Here’s a link to the “cookies by mail” part of their website:
http://www.levainbakery.com/cookiesbymail.html
You can get about two pounds plus two day shipping for $40. Not cheap, but less expensive than a trip to NYC! (For $15 more, you can have them overnighted.)

Katrina May 1, 2008 at 10:54 am

Just know that if you have the cookies shipped to you, even overnight, it will not compare to fresh–there is nothing like tasting it fresh and warm as you sit on the bench right outside the bakery! :)

Amy May 1, 2008 at 11:26 am

Holy moly…that looks like the best chocolate chip cookie EVER! I love it when they have a soft, almost dough-y middle.

Bloomie May 1, 2008 at 12:19 pm

I lived one summer on the same block as Levain and OMG are they good. They’re also very, very expensive so I used to make my then bf buy them for me as I was under-employed.

I just had one last month and it’s $3.75 a cookie but let me tell you, it’s worth it. I am partial to the chocolate-pb ones and I had one straight out of the oven all warm and gooey. So, so good!

Karen May 1, 2008 at 1:14 pm

This photo totally drove me to distraction. Seriously, I have not been able to think of anything else since it popped up yesterday. So this morning I mixed up a half batch of the recipe and let it chill for maybe 90 minutes. I baked one cookie. (Sorry, planet, for turning the oven on for one cookie, but I had my needs.) My oven temperature is not that reliable, I baked it for a total of 23 minutes. I let it cool about ten minutes. It was not doughy, but soft and almost bready. It’s not too sweet. It hit the spot, but I understand what Anna and others have said about it not replacing all other cookie recipes. Anyways I am in a cookie coma right now, but at least I can finally move on with my life.

Jennifer May 1, 2008 at 1:17 pm

I am lucky enough to have eaten a Levain Bakery cookie. They are insanely good. And huge. I’ll be back in NY next week, and after seeing this picture I’ve got to get back to those cookies!

Anna May 1, 2008 at 1:58 pm

We just got back from NYC and had to try the Levain cookies. They only had chocolate chip walnut, which although very good were not my holy grail of chocolate chip cookies. But I am in *love *with the oatmeal raisin. I have been googling for a copycat recipe today to no avail. Any ideas?

Hillary May 1, 2008 at 3:48 pm

These are the best looking cookies I have ever seen! I can’t believe how big and gooey they are! YUM!

Anna May 1, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Anna, I don’t have any ideas for you on the Levain oatmeal cookie. I will when I try one, though!

The more I think about this, the more I suspect they cook these cookies at a high heat and just leave the inside underdone.

Stacy May 1, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Oh this looks amazing. I must have the recipe!

PaniniKathy May 1, 2008 at 7:38 pm

I don’t even know what to say. I’ve never seen anything like it…and I can’t stop staring!! Levain bakery was just added to our NYC itinerary.

Anna May 1, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Kathy, where have you been all my life? I love panini sandwiches. They’re the best! Can’t wait to explore your blog.

Ghislaine May 2, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Hi Anna and all! I’ve been reading this blog for a couple of years now and have enjoyed lurking, but it’s time for me to get out of the woods… My husband just went to NYC and brought some cookies from Levain back to SoCal, and I have to say I was extremely disappointed. Not only did the cookies not live up to the hype, they were actually plain-old not very good! Granted, I didn’t eat them fresh from the over, I did get to sample them within 12 hours -which is well within the limits of their shipping program.
The walnut-chocolate chip is VERY walnutty. Almost to the point of obliterating the chocolate chips, although there are many. That might also have to do with the fact that the chips don’t seem to be very good quality chocolate. Also, these are not cooked but moist, they are just raw in the center. There’s no magic here: they make giant cookies and so they’re woefully underdone.
The all-chocolate and the chocolate-peanut butter are extremely similar; one has chocolate chips, the other one peanut butter chips, a LOT of peanut butter chips. The chocolate dough was even more disappointing than the plain dough -it was chalky and flat, perhaps lacking salt? Perhaps not having enough, or not good quality cocoa powder?
I did not try the oatmeal-raisin. But if Katrina, who loved the walnut-chocolate chip, didn’t like it, I can’t imagine it would be any good.
I definitely would not recommend spending that much money on those cookies. If you’re gonna bring back a baked good from NYC, get yourself a cupcake from Billy’s Bakery.

Katrina Smith May 3, 2008 at 5:23 am

Gee, thanks.
All I can say, is everyone has their own opinion and their own tastes and that the two choc chip cookies I bought didn’t have THAT many walnuts–you can’t even see any in the pictures. But I do LOVE a nut in a cookie. And everyone needs to make up their own mind after tasting the cookie–which is DEFINITELY better fresh and warm. And I don’t know, but mine wasn’t underbaked–to me. (Sorry if this is getting out of hand, Anna.)

Anna May 3, 2008 at 6:31 am

Hi Ghislaine,

First off, thanks for the comment! It’s fun to hear from people who’ve been reading for years. Actually, it’s fun to hear from everyone.

I think the key with these cookies is they need to be very fresh – especially if they are, as I suspect, under-baked. In my opinion, under-baked chocolate chip cookies are only good for a few hours after they are baked, the quality just deteriorates.

Katrina, I can’t wait to try your newest cookie and you are lucky to have the new EK chocolate chip cookie book. For everyone interested in a new cookie, here’s Katrina’s latest post.

http://kevnkoi.blogspot.com/2008/05/levain-is-that-you.html

Also, I never get tired of a good chocolate chip cookie debate. I think it’s partially a matter of taste, but I think maybe some of the cookies that come out of the bakery are better than others.

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