I’ve made many variations on the Levain cookie recipe copycat, and the big fat cookie recipe that comes closest is this one. The cookie in the first photo below is the copycat.
And the cookie in this second photo is an actual Levain cookie. As you can see, this big fat cookie is scraggly and quite brown. They most likely use a special oven to get this color and texture.
The Levain big fat cookie recipe copycat 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.
Big Fat Cookie Tricks
I use bread flour, very cold butter, and I bake the cookies in a convection oven. In the past I’ve used European style butter, but these days I just use good quality American butter for the walnut version. Flour is trickier. Bread flour always gives me big fat cookies, but they do have a crispier shell. If you want a softer shell you’ll have to play with the ratios and baking methods. Some people like mixing bread and cake flour, while others find bleached flour makes cookies rise higher. I like baking the cookies at as high a heat I can get without burning them, then dropping the temp so that only the inside cooks.
In my personal experience comparing the two cookies side by side, using the bread flour, cold butter and a convection oven helps make the cookies more like their namesake, but those three things aren’t critical. What is critical are walnuts. If you take out the nuts you’ll need to adjust butter, flour and leavening agents. I put my no-nut version in the notes section. The no-nut version is not really like Levain’s, but my friends like it a lot.
Here are a few more recent photos. The big fat cookies on this plate are walnut and no-nut and made with bread flour.
This is how the dough should look.
- 2 2/3 cup (330 grams) bread flour, King Arthur (weigh for best results)
- 1 scant teaspoon salt, or slightly less if putting salt on top
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 16 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (230 grams)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (96 grams)
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (140 grams) -- best to weigh brown sugar
- 1 egg (54 grams)
- 1 egg yolk (15-16 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- 2 cups (can use more or less) assorted milk and bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup untoasted coarsely chopped walnuts
- First, weigh out the flour and thoroughly mix in the salt, baking soda and cornstarch. The walnut version does not call for baking powder. If you are making a no-nut version, you will need some baking powder (see note).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat the cold butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat for 4 full minutes, scraping side of the bowl often.
- Stir in the egg and the yolk, then scrape sides of bowl and beat for another minute.
- Add the flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until blended by hand or on very low speed JUST until almost blended. Add the walnuts and stir on low until blended and flour has disappeared, then stir in the chips. It's very important not to overwork the dough at this point.
- Dump the mixture onto a big pastry mat or clean service and knead gently to incorporate any loose flour or chips. Shape into 7 giant balls. Put the dough balls in a zipper bag and chill for 3 hours or until ready to bake..
- Bake in a preheated convection oven at 400 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 330 and continue cooking for about 10 minutes or until done. If you don't have a convection oven just bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.
- You can also use a a regular oven, start at 400 for 15 minutes and bake at 330 for 8.
- Allow the cookies to cool for at least an hour. They are a little delicate and need to set. However, if you really want a very warm cookie you can let them cool and set, then heat them again for a few minutes in a 350 oven.
- Also, one little cheat you can use to make taller cookies is to push them inward with the spatula while they are warm and gently nudge into rounds.
1. Instead of using 1 teaspoon of baking soda, use 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. 2. Instead of 1 egg and 1 yolk, use 1 egg and 2 yolks. 3. Use only 130 grams of brown sugar
Chill the cookies for a few hours and then bake. If you need to hold the dough overnight, keep it in the freezer.
Levain Big Fat Cookie Recipe Copycat!
For anyone looking for the old version, here it is. If you are using this version I recommend using regular Land 0 Lakes unsalted or Plugra. I’ve tested with other brand of European style butter and have had mixed results, but Plugra works with this recipe.
- 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, very cold, chopped up (232 grams) -- Plugra, if available
- 3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons very tightly packed brown sugar (168 grams)
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 cups bread flour (376 grams) (see note about flour types)
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt (decrease to 3/4 if using salted butter)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1-2 teaspoons cornstarch**
- 2 cold eggs, extra large beaten in a separate bowl (110-112 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 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 (important for texture)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cold butter until it is creamy. Add the sugar and continue to beat for about 4 minutes, scraping sides of bowl often.
- Gradually add the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat until well blended, scraping sides of
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch (if using) and dry milk powder (if using).bowl..
- Gradually add the flour mixture stirring just until mixed.
- Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
- Pull the dough out and divide it into 8 pieces, form into large flat rounds. Alternatively, you can divide the dough into seven pieces for even larger cookies. The cookies will be giant either way!
- Put the formed dough balls in a zipper bag and chill overnight. This will help them hold their shape.
- If you are using convection, preheat to 350℉ convection and bake cookies for 18-20 minutes or until the top starts to crack. Allow the cookies to cool for at least an hour before serving.
- If you are using a regular oven, bake at 375 for about 18 to 20 minutes or until tops start to crack.
- Let cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove and finish cooling on a rack.