Having made many, many variations on this cookie over the years, the recipe that I’ve found comes closest is this one. Here’s a photo of the copy cat.
And here’s a photo of an actual Levain cookie, which is scraggly and quite brown.
The copy cat version is a spin-off of Lisa’s original version from Art Culinaire, but I’ve made a few modifications to get the thick, brown, scraggly appearance of the original. I use cold bread flour, very cold European style butter, plus I bake the cookies in a convection oven. You can make the cookies with all-purpose flour and regular (American style) butter as well, and you can also use a regular oven as opposed to convection. In my personal experience comparing the two cookies side by side, using the bread flour, European butter and convection oven helped make the cookies more like their namesake, but those three things aren’t critical.
- 2 sticks (8 oz) European style butter, very cold, chopped up
- 3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons VERY TIGHTLY PACKED light or mixed light and dark brown sugar (or just weigh out 6 oz total)
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
- 3 cups bread flour (13 1/2 oz) (see note about flour types)
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or fine Kosher salt or salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cold large eggs, lightly beaten in a separate bowl
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I can’t leave it out!!)
- 1 1/2 cups extra dark chocolate chips such as Guittard extra dark (in the shiny red bag)
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the chopped up, cold butter until it comes together. It should be creamy and still cold.
- Add the sugar and continue to beat until it is mixed in. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla and continue beating with the paddle on medium until mixed, scraping sides of bowl once or twice. The coolness from the eggs should make the butter seize up again so the creamy mixture will appear lumpy.
- Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. With the mixer on medium-low (or by hand with a heavy duty rubber scraper), gradually add the flour mixture stirring just until mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
- Empty the batter onto a large flat surface and make sure all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Instead of lumping it all together, keep it kind of loose. Divide into 12 raggedy pieces. The dough should be cold before you even put it in the refrigerator, but chilling the dough will help make the cookies taller. I’ve also had good results freezing the dough and baking it from frozen.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. If you are using convection, preheat to 350 F convection.
- Arrange cookies (I recommend baking 1 or 2 first to nail down your time) on a cool heavy duty cookie sheet. Bake on center rack for 18 minutes at 375 or 20 minutes at 350F convection. Let cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove and finish cooling on a rack. When cool, you can eat OR you can freeze the cookie and thaw them for a better texture.