My collection of Levain Copycat recipes is out of control, which is funny because I actually prefer thin and crisp chocolate chip cookies or even tiny Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies. But my friends back in Texas and Chicago go crazy for big fat cookies, so I’ve continued to play with this small batch Levain Copycat recipe over the years. I’ve baked these in all kinds of ovens, with my new favorite being my Ninja.
The pictures below are from my first attempts to make similar cookies without having ever tried a cookie from their bakery.
Eventually I made it to New York’s Upper West Side where we tried the real thing, which were (are) way better and which gave me an idea of how the cookies should be – thick, oozing with chocolate and slightly under-baked.
From that point I made small batch Levain copycats — some with baking soda and powder, others with just soda, all with different types and ratios of flour. At one point I thought European style butter might be key because my cookies made with Plugra were coming out thicker and tastier, but I’ve since given up that idea because not all European style butter work the same plus I don’t think an American bakery could make a profit using European style butter in cookies. So now I just use Land o’ Lakes and whatever flours I feel like playing with.
Small Batch Levain Style
Experimenting is always fun, and if you are new to it you may want to start with a small batch recipe. This is one I came up with early on. It calls for all baking soda, no powder and lots of walnuts. It must be refrigerated and you pretty much have to use the walnuts to get the texture and shape right.
In addition to the small batch version, I’ve added a “regular size” batch. I’ve been making these for years with very good results.
If you don’t like walnuts or have tried this version and aren’t happy with it, here’s another cookie recipe people seem to like — Roasted Flour Chocolate Chip. Roasting a small portion of the flour makes them tall and thick. Unlike the one on this page, the other works well without the walnuts. A newer recipe I really like is for Milk Powder Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Some Levain Copycat Making Notes
- Butter: As mentioned above, Plugra works really well, though not all European butters improve the final cookie. The important thing is that it’s cold.
- Sugar: The lower ratio of sugar to flour helps keep these cookies from spreading too much. Use less and you should get less spread, use more sugar for more spread.
- Flour: I’m always experimenting with flours, but it seems bleached all-purpose makes the cookies a little fatter and softer. For the small batch version you would use 83 grams bleached AP flour. That being said, half the time I just use unbleached because that’s what we have. So bleached or unbleached are okay, but keep in mind bleached might give you a taller, fatter, cookie. Bread flour also works and gives the cookies a thicker shell, though some people swear by a mixture of bread flour with cake. At the end of the day, I think whatever mix of flours you use might also depend on the brands and their protein count.
- Caputo’s Type 00 Flour: The cookie in the first photo (most recent) is one I tested with part bread flour (60 grams) and part type 00 flour ( 23 grams).
- Eggs: Two tablespoons of beaten egg is equal to one half of an egg and should weigh somewhere around 25 grams. If your beaten egg mixture has a higher ratio of yolk to white, you’ll get a slightly taller cookie. It doesn’t really apply to the small batch version, but if you ever need to halve a recipe with one egg and one yolk, a good trick is to crack one egg into a cup and discard 17 grams of the white. That’s the equivalent of half one egg plus one white!
- Note on Baking Soda & Powder — If you are not using nuts, you’ll need to incorporate some baking powder. To make Small Batch Levain Copycats without walnuts, use only 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder.
Baking Giant Cookies in the Ninja Foodi Smart 5-1 Grill
I just bought a Ninja Foodi Smart 5-1 Grill at Costco and am having so much fun with it! The “Bake” function is great for making giant cookies with a thick crust and chewy inside. The Super Small Batch Levain copycat dough works really well. To bake a giant cookie in the Ninja, turn it on, set it to “Bake”, set the temperature to 300 and the time to 18 minutes (slow and low for air fryer cookies!) and let it preheat. Meanwhile, line the bottom of the air crisper tray with some parchment and wet it a bit to keep it from flying up. Set one piece of the cookie dough (I only bake one at a time) on the parchment. When the Ninja says “add food”, put the basket in the oven, close the lid and let the cookie bake at 300 for 18 minutes.
Super Small Batch Levain Copycats
4 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into chunks (58 grams), Plugra gives best results
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (25 grams)
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (36 grams)
2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg (25 grams)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
83 grams all-purpose flour (or try your own variations using bread & AP etc.)
1/4 teaspoon salt (scant)
1/4 scant teaspoon baking soda (just a little under 1/4)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch (optional, really shouldn’t need if you use Plugra)
Large handful chocolate chips (semisweet)
Large handful whole toasted walnuts (untoasted okay too)
In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cold butter and both sugars just until they come together. Don’t overbeat. Add the cold 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 soda and cornstarch. 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 2 big balls or make 1 big ball (6 oz) and a “mini” ball (3 oz). Stack them in the bowl, then cover and chill the dough for an hour or so (or overnight if possible).
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 2 — Alternatively, you can make 3 cookies. Bake time will be slightly shorter. If baking with convection, bake at 350 for about 18 minutes. If for some reason your cookies spread too much, carefully push the edges inward before the cookies are done baking.
Not So Small Batch Levain Copycats
- 1 cup cake flour 114 grams (or just use AP)
- 1 3/4 cup bread flour 220 grams (or just use equivalent AP)
- 1-2 teaspoon cornstarch not critical, but helps with thickness
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted Land o Lakes butter 230 grams, cold and cut into small chunks
- 3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar 145 grams
- 1/2 cup granulated cane sugar 100 grams
- 2 large eggs or use 1 extra large egg and 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts see note if you omit
- 1 cup best quality semisweet chocolate chips you can use more or less
- This dough must be chilled thoroughly for best results, so no need to preheat the oven until ready to bake.
- Mix together the flours, cornstarch, salt and baking soda and set aside. It’s always nice to get that part out of the way, plus it gives you time to properly measure and weigh your flour.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until it is creamy. Add both sugars and beat until blended, then reduce speed and add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Now add the flour mixture gradually, stirring or beating on low until it is fully blended, then stir in the walnuts and chips.
- Turn dough out onto a clean surface and bunch it up into a big ball. Divide into six equal lumps (or make six 6 oz cookies). Arrange on a tray or two large plates, cover, then chill overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375. Bake 3 at a time for about 18 minutes. Allow them to sit and thoroughly cool. They'll seem slightly doughy in the center, but once they cool and set they taste good. Alternatively, you can bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and bake at 350 for another 8 to 10 minutes. Starting at 400 usually results in taller cookies.
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!
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!
They look exactly like the real things. I must try them and pass them out at the office. I think they’ll love me.
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! 🙂
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 🙂
I love your small batch recipes. I’m off to go make these! …Oh, maybe i shouldn’t since I have a dentist appointment 🙂
A batch of 3 cookies?? I didn’t even know that you could make a batch that small, haha – they look fabulous!!
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.