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Chocolate Chip Cookies. Big Ones.

by on May 17, 2008 · 27 comments

This is the last word on those cookies – the one I’ve been talking about on and off for months. The closest I’ve come, and the closest I’ll think I’ll come since I do not have a bread oven (which someone said might be used for the original cookies) is this.

This recipe makes two gigantic cookies. I’ve made these a bazillion times in the past two days and a few other intrepid comment readers have tried them too. My best results came using the recipe below the photo.

So anyway. No more on these cookies……unless someone starts making them with another interesting leavener like a levain or yeast or sourdough starter. But I think the recipe is pretty basic and the thick shell, browned edges and super-scruffy tops come from a bread oven. But this one is close.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ounces unsalted butter, room temp
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, but light okay too
1 3/4 tablespoons beaten egg (that’s half an egg)
3/4 cups BREAD flour (3 1/4 oz) – weigh if possible. If no scale, scoop and sweep
1/8 plus 1/16 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 to 1/3 cup coarsely chopped, untoasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat butter and both sugars just until they come together. Don’t over-beat. Add the egg and beat just until incorporated.

Mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. When thoroughly mixed, add to batter and stir just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. The dough should be neither sticky nor dry.

Divide dough into two large mounds, but keep the mounds kind of raggedy. That is, don’t smash them into compact balls.

Bake on ungreased insulated cookie sheet or an upside down rimmed cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 350. Cool on sheet for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Published on May 17, 2008

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle W. in Calif. May 17, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Anna, had to laugh when I came here today and saw the Levain thing STILL going on! I’d basically given up (just can’t get any I’ve tried to rise), but now I’m thinking it over again. Except it’s too hot right now (102 yesterday and today).
I saw someone posted the Deryl Bear recipe. I live in Fresno, Calif., home of Deryl and his Hungry Bear cookie franchise, there are 3 or 4 of them in town. (one just one mile from my house!) While his cookies are fabulous in their own right, they’re nothing like the Levain monsters! His Sugar Dream cookies are to die for!
So how do I scale your latest version UP to a normal-sized batch? (math is not my strong suit!)

Katrina May 17, 2008 at 12:44 pm

Looks GREAT! Can’t wait to try it.

Derek May 17, 2008 at 1:18 pm

WHat did you bake them at? I am going to double the recipe and make 4, I quadrupled the BK soda, no bk powder. Going to bake at 450 for 8 min and 350 for another 10. I used a combo of half Pastry and 1/2 bread flour. I’ll send pics when they come out!

bakingblonde May 17, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Wow do those ever look great! I have not made plain chocolate chip cookies in months! I think I may need to whip up a batch next week! Yours look sooooooo yummy!

Anna May 17, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Michele, I’m going to stop before someone stages an intervention. To scale up, just quadruple everything. I think you might want to make a quick test batch just to make sure the cookies are what you want.

Anyway. Derek’s gonna double up! Derek, I baked at 350 for 20 minutes (just added that), but you can play with the time. I think Levain bakes theirs in a Falling Heat Bread Oven, so you can mimic that in your own oven by starting at a high temp and then lowering the heat…..which is what you are doing. Cant’ wait to see your pix.

BB, gosh. Don’t you go through withdrawal when you skip chocolate chip cookies for months? I do.

Katrina, I know you are busy with those triple level rice krispy treats, but I look forward to your evaluation.

VeggieGirl May 17, 2008 at 2:19 pm

I just posted about some chocolate chip cookies :0) But they’re TINY – loooove those big ones!

Carole May 17, 2008 at 2:46 pm

I will give these ones a try next week and post my results. All the talk sure makes me want to head to NYC and try one for myself! Thanks for keeping at it for so long and sharing your best results.

Clumbsy Cookie May 17, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Who needs a Levain when we can get a Levanna?! Sorry, couldn’t help myself… must be high on cherries!… Anyway, Anna you’re great doing all this tests! For me it’s not even about Levain anymore it’s about the quest for the very best cookie, but that’s never possible since tastes differ so much…
I’ll probably give them a try this next week and play a bit in the CCC world! Have a nice weekend! Rita

Katy May 17, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Anna,
Do you like this recipe? You don’t mention whether or not they were any good. Would these be on your top ten? Would this be a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe for you?Are they better than Jacque Torres or Alton Brown in the thick, moist and crunchy category?
Katy

Anna May 17, 2008 at 5:10 pm

Katy, your comment just cracked me up because I know your feelings on Levain chocolate chip cookies.

Go-To Chocolate Chip recipe? No. I like thinner cookies.

Better than Jacques Torres? No. No one makes a better cookie than Jacques.

Better than Alton Brown’s? Hmmmmm. No.

That being said, I did like the Levain cookie and it was very, very, good. But I didn’t like it as much as other cookies.

So why am I trying to clone it? I don’t know. I guess I’m cloning it because I want to make things other people like. Plus, it’s a challenge. Plus, I’m obsessive compulsive.

But in the end, I think I liked Levain’s chocolate cookie with peanut butter chips the best.

Sue May 17, 2008 at 6:09 pm

I really appreciate all of the work you put into this, but even more than that I appreciate your thoughts about these cookies and the other cookies you like. I haven’t made the A.B. CCC, but I have made the JT, and it was excellent!

Gina May 17, 2008 at 6:52 pm

I was just scaling Anna’s version of this recipe for my own purposes, so I’m happy to share with other math-challenged bakers (this is assuming that MY math is right!)

Levain Copycats (via Lisa and Anna)

8 ounces (two sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups BREAD flour (13 1/2 oz)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 to 1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped, untoasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat butter and both sugars just until they come together. Don’t overbeat. Add the egg and beat just until incorporated. Mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. When thoroughly mixed, add to batter and stir just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. The dough should be neither sticky nor dry.

Divide dough into about 12 mounds, but keep the mounds kind of raggedy. That is, don’t smash them into compact balls. Bake on ungreased insulated cookie sheet or an upside down rimmed cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 350. Cool on sheet for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

This should make a dozen 4 oz. cookies or eight 6 oz. cookies.

Gina May 17, 2008 at 6:55 pm

See? I told you my math might be iffy! That should be TWO sticks of butter, not one (one stick=four ounces). My bad! My apologies–Gina

Michelle W. in Calif. May 17, 2008 at 7:32 pm

Thanks for that Gina, I’m math-challenged!

So….really? No vanilla?? It seems sacrilegious, but I guess I can try it!

Anna May 17, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Sue, I think it’s great that you use abbreviations and we all know what they stand for…AB CCC, JT CCCC, L CCC,

Gina, thanks! I’ll edit that for you.

Michelle, I had a hard time forcing myself to skip the vanilla, but the end result was still very good. I think leaving out the vanilla made the the walnuts and brown sugar stand out. Or maybe that’s just crazy talk. But the cookies were great without the vanilla.

Jan Harris May 18, 2008 at 9:54 am

Anna: When you say bread flour, are you referring to the bread machine flour, with higher gluten content?

Anna May 18, 2008 at 10:04 am

Jan, I don’t use my bread machine often and didn’t know there was such a thing as bread MACHINE flour, but I suppose it’s the same thing. Bread flour has more gluten.

Gina May 18, 2008 at 6:24 pm

Ok, I made a half batch…six four-ounce cookies, and they are OUTSTANDING! The bread flour (I used KA’s Sir Lancelot-high gluten hard wheat flour) and the soda-only must have done the trick. Also baking the dough in tall, shaggy mounds made them look exactly right when done. The only changes I made were to start with cold, cubed butter as I believe the Levain ladies do. And I added a half teaspoon of vanilla because no one could stop me! And surprisingly, even though I made smaller cookies, they still needed 19-20 minutes to bake in my temperamental oven. Go figure.

Anyway, THANKS Anna for perfecting Lisa’s recipe. You rock! –Gina

P.S. In the scaled-up recipe above, I noticed another mistake. It shouldn’t read “two large mounds” if you’re making a larger batch, or those would be some GINORMOUS cookies! Maybe just “large mounds?” Anna, will you edit again so others aren’t led astray? Thanks.

Anna May 18, 2008 at 6:58 pm

Gina, I just did the edit. Thanks for testing the scaled up version. I used cold butter in my first version, then started using room temperature so I wouldn’t have to use an elecric mixer. Both versions seemed to work, but I think the cold butter makes them shaggier and lumpier.

Tracy May 18, 2008 at 8:09 pm

I am so glad you and your readers have been working on this very important project. I may have to try this final version — have never made a cookie with bread flour.

cate May 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Anna, thanks for the wonderful recipe. I tripled the amounts and baked the best cookies I have ever home made. I did add white chocolate chips to the dough as well as semi-sweet ones. I had some I needed to use up and it worked out well.
A question for you…do you think this recipe would make a good sugar cookie? My husband is obsessed with Mrs. Fields butter sugar cookies and I have never found a sugar cookie recipe he was satisfied with. Would leaving the chips and nuts out of this recipe be close? Do you have any suggestions for a recipe that would replicate Mrs. Fields’? Thanks in advance!

Anna May 20, 2008 at 6:57 am

Cate, I think you’d be better off taking an actual sugar cookie recipe and working on that one until you get it to be like McCall’s. Here’s a random one from a magazine. You could make it once, then adjust it as needed.

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookie — Adapted from McCall’s

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
8 oz butter (2 sticks) softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon rind
Sparkly sugar

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift flour with baking soda and cream of tarter; set aside

Cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in salt, egg and vanilla. With a mixing spoon or lowest speed of an electric mixer, stir in the flour.

Drop by 1/3 cup measure onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten cookies into rounds of about 5 inches. Sprinkle with sparkly sugar.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack.

Yields: Makes 10 large cookies

Marilou May 20, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Hi Anna!
I’ve been stalking your site for quite a while and have tried many of your recipes. Yum! Thank you for all of them!

But I felt the need to comment on this one because I made a batch last night and almost exploded in chocolatey cookie goodness. I never tried Levain’s cookies and, frankly, I do not really have the desire to. I just saw your version of it and thought it looked good. Oh my goodness! It was so good! This is now my official go-to cookie recipe, since it has everything I love in a cookie. Thank you!

Caitlin October 12, 2008 at 8:12 pm

I’m in the process of trying to decide which Levain Copycat recipe to make……which one out of the many you’ve tried would you say is the best?? They all look equally amazing though :)

Louise January 14, 2009 at 6:37 am

Anna, as I’m new to your blog, I missed the blitz of chocolate chip cookie trials, but I am wondering if the Todd English recipe calls for lemon juice. A “Boston Globe” newspaper recipe which was supposedly adapted from TE doesn’t call for it, but since you have his book I’m assuming it wasn’t something you added. Also, have you tried any of the cc recipes which melt the butter? I have a whole assortment of recipes I’ve been meaning to try and I just need to jump in. :-D

Olga July 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Hi..
Im from Mexico and i can´t find BREAD flour just regular..do you think that would make a big difference?

Anna July 22, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Hola Olga! Yes, you can use regular flour. The texture of the cookie won’t be quite the same, but the cookies will still be good.

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