I went to New York last summer and stopped by Levain Bakery after a friend told me I had to try their cookies.
Since then, I've been completely obsessed with trying to recreate the recipe at home. I tried a ton of recipes, read a ton of blogs/forums/discussions regarding the potential 'secret ingredients' in these delicious cookies.
I tried letting the dough rest 36 hours, I tried adding cornstarch to the dough, I tried all different baking temperatures, and I even tried adding powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar.
I could never quite get the recipe right, somethings was always off.
I think I have discovered a way to recreate the Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookie at home.
It came to me out of no where after I was reading a forum about the bakery. Someone mentioned that they thought Levain Bakery used super hot bread baking ovens to get their cookies to crisp up so perfectly. So I thought to myself, okay, I'll try to mimic the ovens by preheating a baking sheet in the oven and throwing some ice cubes on it after putting the cookies in the oven.
I had attempted this cookie recipe several times and given the batches to my husband to take to work. His coworkers would always ask him when I was going to make my "scone cookies" again. I didn't think anything of it at first-maybe it's their shape?
Then it hit me. Why am I not making these using a scone baking technique?! I mean, it makes perfect sense. The Levain cookies are buttery and fluffy, yet perfectly crisp on the outside. Unlike any cookie I've ever had before… EXACTLY. So I decided to cut in the butter rather than beat it until it's fluffy, like all the other chocolate chip cookie recipes out there.
BINGO. This created the fluffy cookie texture that I wanted. Also, after much trial and error, I decided on a combination of bread flour and cake flour for the cookies, rather than all-purpose flour. Combined with under-baking and the high oven temp/ice cubes, I was able to create the BEST copycat cookie recipe (I think) so far. Give it a try and be sure to tell me what you think.
Personally, I don't add walnuts to the cookies because I don't like walnuts, but feel free to add them.
I also made mine half the size of the real Levain cookies, but you can do whatever you want. The recipe below calls for the normal size, but feel free to make them half that size and cut the baking time down to about 10 minutes
2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups bread flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks COLD unsalted butter, cubed
2 eggs (cold)
1 tsp vanilla
1- 1 1/2 cups good quality chocolate chips
3/4 cup toasted walnuts (optional)
In a bowl whisk together eggs and vanilla and set aside. In a separate bowl sift together first 7 ingredients (dry ingredients). Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles crumbles. Pour in the egg mixture and mix until just incorporated. Carefully add in chocolate chips and incorporate. Do not over mix, you want them to be rough and scone-like.
Put the dough in the fridge while preheating the oven.
Set oven at 425 degrees and place a baking pan on the bottom rack to heat up (for the ice cubes).
When the oven has reached 425 degrees, remove the dough from the refrigerator and scoop the dough into baseball sized mounds. (Yes, I said baseball sized. If you have never had these cookies, they are MASSIVE). You want it to look rough, not smooth like a ball.
Place the dough mounds on a greased baking sheet and slightly push down. Place on the center rack of the oven. Add 3 ice cubes to the empty baking pan in the oven and close the oven door immediately. This creates steam to give the cookies that wonderful crispy outer layer.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven, and watch closely. Ideally you want them to have a light golden color, but also appear to be under baked.