Friday, May 02, 2008

Levain, Is That You?

Side View of Levain CC Cookie Levain CC Cookie Fresh


So part of the excitement of my trip to New York was that I was going to find a bakery there that is supposed to have some great chocolate chip cookies that were featured on Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay.  The Levain Bakery beat Bobby in the throwdown and has been talked about and rated as an excellent chocolate chip cookie.  It is very thick and weighs about six ounces.  I'm my baking quest of late to find the best chocolate chip cookie, I knew that while I was going to be in New York that I had to find this bakery and try this cookie. 

After two long day of lots of bus touring and LOTS of walking and taking the subway, we found the bakery!  I was happy as this was the second of things on my list to do while in New York.  The first, of course, being to see Clay in Spamalot.  Above are a few pictures of the beloved cookie.  I was expecting it to be cakey and maybe even a little dry.  It was anything but that and it was delicious.  It was crisp around the edges and on the outside and just perfect ooey gooey on the inside.  From it's highest point top to bottom was about an inch and a half.  Unheard of in the cookie world and practically unmatchable.  Many have tried.  I have tried even a few times since returning home.  Another delightful picture of the cookie, along with a few others from Levain's Bakery are here.  To the left is a chocolate cookie with peanut butter chips--which I also thought was really good.  Underneath the chocolate chip cookie (which contains walnuts, just the right amount and they don't make one without the walnuts), is a triple chocolate cookie.  While I thought it was quite yummy, it was TOO rich for me.  In the picture, the cookies look cake-like or like brownies, especially the chocolate ones, but I assure you, they are not.  Levain's also makes an oatmeal raisin cookie, equal in size and height, but I thought it was a little bland--not enough oatmeal and in need of some flavor, such as vanilla or even cinnamon.  It would serve as a great choice if you're not wanting chocolate when visiting the bakery, which also has homemade artisan breads that I did not try and would have if I'd have been in New York longer.

Fresh Levain Cookies

Okay, so I made two copy cat recipes for the Levain Chocolate Chip Cookie yesterday, one from Su Good Sweets website and another found on the Cookie Madness site, titled Big Fat Copy Cat Recipe.  Both were a thick cookie that actually resembled the Levain cookie, but just didn't equal it in taste.  I was somewhat pleased with both cookies, liking the Cookie Madness version better, but knew my quest was not over for finding a true copy cat for Levains.  (When any "experts" such as Anna from Cookie Madness or Jennifer from Bake or Break try that cookie on their visits to New York, they will clone the cookie much better than my skills allow.)

BUT today I received two cookbooks in the mail that I had ordered just for fun and one of them had a chocolate chip cookie recipe that was super simple but had gobs of chocolate chips in it.  I decided to whip up a batch just for fun and now I'm in love again.  The cookbook the recipe came from is called The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook by Elinor Klivans and the recipe is called Chock Full of Chocolate Chips Cookies.  The cookie has SO many chocolate chips in it that it is unbelievable.  The normal size cookies shown here are amazing in and of themselves.

RECIPE (adapted from The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook by Elinor Klivans)

1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups chocolate chips (your choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Sift flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.  Set aside. 

In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until blended well.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until blended.  On low speed, add the flour mixture just until incorporated.  Mix in the chocolate chips.  Drop by heaping spoonfuls (about 3 level tablespoons each) onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are lightly browned and centers are golden.  (Recipe says 15 minutes, mine were perfect to me at 10-11 minutes.)  Cool a few minutes on baking sheets then transfer to wire racks.



That's right, it says four cups of chocolate chips and is delicious down to every last morsel!  I used an array of brands and chocolate ranging from Nestle Semi Sweet Mini Chips to Hershey's Special Dark Chips and Semi Sweet Chips as well as Guittard Milk Chocolate Chips and Hershey's Bliss Rich & Creamy Dark Chocolate.  If there is a chocolate heaven, I am in it.

Also for kicks, I made a four ounce ball of dough and chilled it in the refrigerator.  I baked this cookie by itself at 375 degrees for 15 minutes and cooled it on the baking sheet.  I'm telling you, it just might be better than my beloved Levain!  While it didn't quite have the height (mine being about 3/4 of an inch high), darn it all if it isn't a better tasting cookie.  I don't know if it is because I have been depriving myself since September of such goodness being on The Biggest Loser Online Diet or just what, but Clay Aiken step aside, I just might have found my true love!  (Just kidding, Kevin, YOU are my true love!)  Thank you Elinor! 

DSCF6452 DSCF6457

Okay, enough cookie talk, I gotta get up early and get back on that treadmill!  Sigh.   Still working on my New York Trip blog.


Michelle said...

oh my...i think i know what i'm baking this weekend! those look amazing!

Lisa Ernst said...

Wow! 4 cups of chips! Right up my alley. I always thought the copy cat recipes seemed short on chips and this looks over the top, in a good way. Will have to try this one.

Anne Marie said...

Soooo delicious-looking!

Michelle said...

YUMMO! I actually saw that episode of throw cool that you got to try those cookies. Its 10:00 and I just might go make me some cookies!!!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

You know I live quite far from New York, you should not do these things to me!

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

Oh, these look good! I will have to try this recipe...they do look similar to Levain's.

Lisa Ernst said...

Is this the recipe you decided was really dry and not so good after a few days? I had planned to bake these, but if you have discovered they don't hold up I may not. I've found that high butter content cookies often lose something after the first day.

Katrina said...

lisa ernst,
I actually liked the Levain up until three days after buying it. Although, it was definitely the best fresh and warm! And this other one, the Chock Full of Chips one I have made twice and thought they were great, including for a few days afterward. The one I didn't like much the next day was the Levain clone from Su Good Sweets website. Hope that helps.

Katrina said...

P.S. I would not call this Chock Full recipe a copy cat of the Levains. It's just another darn good c.c. cookie recipe! You might try Anna's newest Levain copy from Cookie Madness, she just posted it yesterday. With the Chock Full cookies that I made, all I did was chill the dough on that big one and it baked nice and high. I want to try that again. There is still a taste different with all the copy cats, that just doesn't equal Levain's actual cookies.

Lisa Ernst said...

Thanks for the clarification. I will definitely put the chock full cookies on my "to bake" list. I don't think I'll try any of the clones and just wait until I can get to NYC and try the real thing!

Stan said...

Without doubt, these are the best cookies that I have tasted. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

These do have a great taste, but mine got flat :(
And expanded a lot.. Did I over mix?