Super Small Batch Levain Copy Cats

Update: Before you make these, read this updated version of the recipe which uses bread flour.

Levain Clone

This morning I decided to do another little experiment with the Levain copycat recipe. Since it was an experiment, I made a very small batch, which yielded only 3 cookies. If you like the cookies, you can scale it back up!

For the experiment, I used European style butter and White Lily flour. The result was a cookie that looked more like Levain’s….or at least what I’ve seen on pictures and TV.

Chocolate Chip Cookie

White Lily flour is similar to cake flour, so if you only have cake flour, you can use that (too cakey — stick with White Lily or AP or Bread). Measuring with cups isn’t very accurate, and I recommend using a scale. If you don’t have a scale, fluff the flour up and spoon and level it into the cups. The dough should not be too sticky to shape, but it shouldn’t be dry and crumbly either.

The leavening amounts are very small, but if you don’t have a teaspoon that measures 1/8, just eyeball half of a 1/4 teaspoon, which is what I did. You’ll definitely have to eyeball the 1/16 teaspoon because I don’t think there is such a thing.

And finally, I left the walnuts whole. I think there might be something to that in that the jaggedy big walnuts make air pockets that puff up. But if you hate nuts, you can still try without them.

SUPER Small Batch Levain Copy Cats with Experiment

4 tablespoons unsalted European style butter, cubed, cold but not too hard
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons White Lily or Cake flour (or weigh out 108 grams)**
¼ teaspoon salt (scant)
1/8 teaspoon plus 1/16 teaspoon baking powder (eyeball)
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
small handful chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
Small handful whole toasted walnuts

In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars just until they come together. Don’t overbeat. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until mixed. Don’t keep beating until smooth – you want it to be roughly creamed.

Stir together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. When thoroughly mixed, add to creamed mixture and stir. The dough should seem kind of dry at this point.

Before the flour is fully mixed in, add the walnuts and chocolate chips and continue mixing (may need to use hands) allowing some of the walnuts to break.

Divide dough into 3 big balls. Stack them in the bowl and chill the dough for an hour or so.
When ready to bake, bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 21 minutes. Let sit on cookie sheet for about 10 minutes to cool, them remove.

Makes 3

**If you have to stick with all purpose, only use ¾ cup or weigh out 105 grams

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Comments

  1. says

    I also like to keep the walnuts whole, or very roughly chopped. I think they’re prettier, it’s easier and they somehow work better with warm chocolate chips.

  2. says

    I love your small batch recipes. I’m off to go make these! …Oh, maybe i shouldn’t since I have a dentist appointment :)

  3. eva says

    I’m glad you haven’t given up on your quest for the Levain cookie! I agree about the whole or “big” walnuts. One of the reasons I didn’t like nuts in my cookies in the past is because texturally they get soft/soggy and don’t work with the cookie. They seem to get in the way. Roasting them and then keeping them big or whole takes care of that yucky scenario. Also means I now enjoy (and bake with) nuts in my cookies. Great blog Anna. I hope all your cookie and Shamu quests come true :)

  4. says

    And I thought you were done with the Levain’s for a while. ;)
    Yours look good. I wish you have tasted the real ones, to compare taste. The two recipes I tried last week were good, but by the next day the cookies were very dry. I thought the Levains were good for about three days.
    Still think there is a little trick those ladies aren’t telling us.
    Hmmmmm???

    Oh, and I made the Marbled PB Brownies yesterday. Darn tootin’ they are SO good. I even accidentally forgot the top chocolate swirl layer, and they are still very good. Family loved them. (Thanks for the recipe)
    Also made the Pillsbury Bake Off finalist Toffee Banana Brownies and they are delicious, too. Wasn’t sure about the cut up banana in a brownie (I like banana pureed in things, but not chunks so much), but these are divine, especially with the caramel drizzled on top. Trying to get my pictures and recipes blogged, in between constant “interruptions” from the kids. You know!

  5. madpots says

    Anna, I would like to ask about European butter. I have seen it in the store and it is about $8 a pound. Is it really that much better? Can you tell the difference in baking?
    BYW – love your website.

  6. says

    Renae, I agree. Walnuts are so pretty. It’s sad to chop them up!

    VeggieGirl, yes! Of course these cookies are so big it’s like making a dozen of or more of normal size cookies.

    Sharon, you dentist won’t mind. These aren’t sticky. Go ahead and make them. I have a dentist appointment tomorrow too, btw. See? That didn’t stop me!

    Eva, I’m with you on the toasted nuts! It’s amazing what a different that step makes.

    Katrina, thanks for the reviews. The banana brownie won the America’s Choice Award so it must be pretty good. As for the Levain girls holding back, they seemed pretty honest, don’t you think? Like nice ladies? I don’t think they’d hold back. Glad you liked the peanut butter brownies.

    Madpots, hello! I don’t know whether or not it’s my imagination, but the European style butter makes things seem a bit richer. I believe it has less water/more fat to it, so using it let you add fat without adding extra moisture….or at least that’s what I’ve read. One thing is for sure, it tastes better on bread or potatoes. It’s good stuff! But yes, it’s expensive. Our store has a very good private label so I use Central Market brand European Style Butter which runs about $3.99 a pound. I’m not sure I would bake with butter that was $8.99 a pound. Yikes.

  7. judi0044 says

    Anna, Do you think the KerryGold butter could be considered European? It’s the pricier brand where I shop the most. I’m glad you experimented again since I saw the Flay Throwdown Sunday night like a few others. I’d like to try your latest recipe – after we finish the PB & Nutella Brownies which are in the oven right now! Another market here has many Central Market items which I buy frequently thinking they were their own store brand gourmet items. Perhaps I’m wrong if you’re finding them in the south. I’m in the NE.

  8. says

    Judi, give Kerrygold a try. It is Irish so it is European style. I think it’s a little richer.

    I’m not really sure what your Central Market items are. Central Market is a local grocery store here in TX. They have a really good stuff, so it’s possible they are selling items in the NE. The URL is http://www.centralmarket.com

  9. says

    I love leaving walnuts whole! I do it in fudge all the time. A batch with only 3 cookies… I should do that, then it wouldn’t matter when I can’t stop and end up inhaling the whole batch! They look SO good!

  10. says

    Hi Anna! Would you say this was your best copy cat levain cookie? It does look very similar to Katrina’s picture. I think I need to go to New York… I even tryed to find the video of that show on youtube (no luck on that), you’re getting me obssessed with this!!! Your fault Anna! Lol!

  11. says

    Hello There, Clumbsy Cookie!

    Welcome to the world of Cookie Madness……or in this case, Levain Cookie Madness. It’s an obsession.

    I’m actually not as obsessed with it as I was. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t clone something I’ve never tried. However, the cookies I made today with the White Lily flour and the European Butter were the best. I think the White Lily had more of an impact than the butter.

    Anyhow, I may need to get back to carrot cookie obsession.

    Maybe the Levain ladies will create a carrot cake cookie to rival Disney World’s.

  12. Meredith says

    How about your obsession with a Miles of Chocolate clone? Now that recipe quest is worth losing sleep over, in my humble opinion!!

    (I must admit, though — these Levain Bakery cookies just don’t appeal to me; they look as though they’d be too “heavy” — you know, kinda like “lead sinker” donuts or something. My stomach aches just looking at them).

    But, we all have our obsessions. For me, right now, it’s NUTELLA. I am determined to find the ultimate Nutella tart and cookie! :)

  13. says

    They look exactly like the real things. I must try them and pass them out at the office. I think they’ll love me.

  14. says

    I’m going to New York in December and i’m defenetly going to Levain! I enjoy trying to clone things, but Anna you’re right you can’t clone something you never ate, lol!
    I have the books of that guy that clones recipes from famous brands and restaurantes, maybe someone could email him to start working on this one…
    I can smell carrot cookie madness coming!
    Rita

  15. GrannyLooHoo says

    I’ve been looking for a copycat recipe for the Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookie since I saw the Throwdown with Flay. I’ve never tasted one, but I can imagine how they taste. So I tried your recipe this afternoon, and they are delicious! Finally a chocolate chip cookie recipe, made with butter, that doesn’t spread all over the pan. Thanks for posting!

  16. says

    Hi Virginie,

    Well, at least you like the taste ;). But I am 90% sure the texture problem is due to the cake flour. Cake flour would yield a more tender and soft cookie. The reason I used bread flour was because I wanted to give the cookies more structure — specifically, a thicker “shell” and softer middle. It seemed to work. If you don’t have any bread flour, you could go ahead and try all purpose, which will be a little closer to what you are looking for. But bread flour is what will give you the best results.

    Again, I suspect cake flour is the culprit. Good luck with your next batch. I hope you like the bread flour version better.

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