Let me tell me about one of my favorite places in the world: As the early morning sun radiates through the panoramic windows of my New York City hotel room, the telephone beside my bed rings incessantly. "Mr. Blackall, this your scheduled wake up call. Have a great day!" There’s only one thing on my mind: warm chocolate chip cookies. After jumping into my black Levi's, I head out the door. Merely 480 feet separate the lobby of the Gansevoort with the 6 train at 28th Street station. From there, only six stops to heaven: 33rd Street, Grand Central, Times Square, 50th Street, Columbus Circle, Lincoln Center. Emerging from the depths of 72nd Street, I am greeted by the familiar sights of the Upper West Side — impeccable brownstones, snow-white poodles, bassinet strollers. I prowl past the brunchers of Amsterdam Avenue and there it is: Levain Bakery.
Stepping down into the 500 square foot basement bakery, notes of rich molasses and Mexican vanilla drive me into frenzy. The queue wraps around the bakery’s tight perimeters, my mouth salivating at the sight of each buttery brioche and crusty baguette perched atop the metal counter. My eyes flash down and there they are, the objects of my desire: six-ounce mounds of partially cooked dough billowing over the sides of their wicker encampment. “One of each, please,” I demand. I hand over $14 and immediately rip through the two-pound bag that is becoming increasingly transparent from the cookies’ high butter content. My taste buds jolt at that familiar taste of brown sugar. A self- proclaimed professional sugar addict, I’ve reached nirvana. Though a single bite of each 800-calorie cookie is all I can stomach for now, I will forever long for more.
After my first visit to Levain, I knew I couldn’t be away from these cookies for too long. Consequently, I made it a personal mission to recreate each of their four cookies (chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate peanut butter chip, dark chocolate chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin) in my own kitchen. Since my foray into New York City’s most famous bakery, I have been meticulously testing different recipes to find a carbon copy of those huge, gooey cookies.
Today I’m sharing my copycat recipe for their signature chocolate chip walnut cookies. Parting with this recipe is going to be difficult, because this one of my secret weapons. These are hands-down, some of the best chocolate chip cookies ever. The Nestle Tollhouse recipe you’ve been using since your childhood? Psh! Those Jacques Torres “Perfect” New York Times cookies? Nope! These are even better. These are everything I’m looking for in the perfect chocolate chip cookies: a nicely cooked edge, a sinfully delicious gooey center, and the perfect balance of saltiness throughout. You’ve got to try them.
Levain Bakery Copycat Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), cold and cubed
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp cornstarch
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli milk)
- 1 cup walnuts
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cold butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cornstarch and mix until just combined. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Scoop large balls of dough (a ¼ cup scoop usually produces a 4 oz. cookie, you can go bigger if you want) onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes, 12-14 for larger cookies. (As soon as the the edges turn golden brown, remove the cookies from the oven. The middles may look undercooked but that’s what you want!)
Serve with a glass of milk or another cookie ;)