• Seren Cho

I Recreated the Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies

In early March, I visited my aunt at her place of work. A friend of hers had just gotten back from a trip to New York City and had brought back the iconic Levain Bakery cookies. My aunt pulled her plate of Levain cookies out of her mini fridge and placed them between us. After one bite, I was hooked.

From then on, I was determined to recreate those cookies. I don’t live in NYC--I had to find my fix. After scouring the internet and Youtube for different recipes and techniques, I found this one from Delish. Along with an informative and entertaining video, this recipe seemed to make the most scientific sense. This recipe calls for cold butter in order to create a jagged and bumpy surface, like the Levain cookies. Next, the use of cake flour allows for the cookies to be super soft and tender, reminiscent of the gooey interior of the Levain cookie. Lastly, adding eggs at the end of the process prevents the dough from developing too much gluten, making for the perfect chewy, but not too chewy, texture.

I started by following the recipe. When it came time to start working with the butter, I grew nervous. In my personal experience, the butter always makes or breaks the cookie. I took my butter directly out of the fridge and put it into my stand mixer, keeping it as cold as possible. As I started mixing, it already seemed too soft and creamy. At this point, there was nothing I could do, so I kept going and formed the rest of the dough. Side note: I withheld the walnuts. We’re a family of picky-eaters.

I formed the large 6 ounce dough balls and put them in a glass pyrex to chill for two hours in the fridge. Two hours is a long time, but here’s why it’s necessary: the Levain cookies are like scones. They don’t spread very much and have a hard exterior. In order to prevent spreading, the butter needs to be as cold as possible (it all comes back to the butter!). Chilling the cookies for two hours ensures that they won’t spread excessively once in the oven.

In this two hour time window, I sat on the couch, screwing around on Tik Tok and watching Zoella’s vlogs. Once my two hour timer went off, I placed four cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This next step is critical: because the cookies are really big and thick, they bake for a long time (around 23 minutes in my oven), so the bottoms of the cookies tend to brown quickly. In order to prevent this, place the baking sheet with your cookies onto another baking sheet turned over in the oven. Doing this will prevent the bottom of the cookies from getting direct heat.

I checked my cookies at 20 minutes and decided they needed to brown a bit more. I was after that perfect golden brown top. So after another three minutes or so, I took them out of the oven and let them rest for 15 minutes before I transferred them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

The cookies looked decadent. I drooled at the sight of pockets of melted chocolate and the golden brown top. My mother came in to see how they looked.

“They look amazing!” she exclaimed.

One thing I felt was off about the cookies was that they were too smooth. The Levain cookies are known for their jagged tops and scone-like look. I think because my butter wasn’t cold enough, this happened. So for next time (there will definitely be a next time), I’m going to put the butter in the freezer for around 10 to 15 minutes to really allow it to get cold.

After the second batch of cookies came out and a quick photoshoot later, my whole family gathered around waiting to take a bite out of one of the cookies. The crisp exterior made for a good bite, and the gooey, molten inside melted in my mouth. They were heavenly. Not too sweet, just sweet enough. We all went back in for a second bite. It took the four of us to finish one cookie, so keep that in mind when serving these. They’re giant!

These cookies will be picked at for the next few days as we all go in and out of the kitchen during quarantine. They’re practically irresistible.

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