Top Pick Of The Week

May 30, 2006

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Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
A Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip cookie flanked by two classic Chocolate Chip Walnut cookies. All photos by Melody Lan.
WHAT IT IS: Jumbo gourmet cookies from Levain Bakery in New York City.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Incredible flavors in cookies the size of scones: Chocolate Chip Walnut, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip and Oatmeal Raisin.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Rich, buttery, chewy cookies you can sink your teeth into: layers of flavor and cakey texture but never so rich as to overkill.

Levain Bakery:
Chip Off A New Block


CAPSULE REPORT: Let’s be absolute: Except when measured scientifically, there is no one “best” of anything. But the amazing chocolate chip cookies from Levain Bakery belong on anyone’s Top 10” list of best chocolate chip cookies. The size of scones, they’re almost cakey—you can have your cake and cookie and eat them too with these chewy, homemade-style jumbo cookies. They weigh in at six ounces apiece—lots of chocolate chips, peanut butter chips or raisins held together by some exceptionally tasty dough. It may sound like overload (and it looks like it, when one of these monster cookies is staring you down). Yet, the ingredients are so superb and the recipe so brilliantly balanced, that we can down two of them without even requiring a glass of milk.

If you need to win someone over, just show up with a box of these cookies—as long as he or she isn’t on the South Beach Diet. Read the full review below. You can also read the history of the chocolate chip cookie—the Toll House Cookie, born in the U.S.A.

  • For more of our favorite cookies in THE NIBBLE online magazine, click here.
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  • All of the Top Pick Of The Week newsletters are permanently archived in chronological order and by product category.
THE NIBBLE does not sell the food products we review or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them. Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their categories.


America’s Favorite Cookies

All American Cookie Book Big Fat Cookies Great Cookies
The All-American Cookie Book, by Nancy Baggett. Every American cookie you can think of is here—more than 150 of them—from luscious Black Bottom Mini Brownie Cups and chewy Chocolate Thumbprint Crackles to Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies and crisp, spicy Old-Fashioned Gingerbread Cookies. A must for the cookbook collection. Click here to purchase.
Big Fat Cookies, by Elinor Klivans. More fun than baking cookies is making big fat cookies. Anyone can whip up a quick batch of 50 different gigantic crispy, chewy or fancy-pants sandwich cookies. All recipes are wonderfully clear and appropriate for bakers of all skill levels. But, you’ll want to make every single one of them. Click here to purchase.
Great Cookies: Secrets to Sensational Sweets, by Carole Walter. With more than 200 delectable recipes and more than 150 tantalizing photographs, and tips covering every baking method, including foolproof techniques to ensure that your cookies look as good as the eat-me-off-the-page examples in the book. Click here to purchase.


Chip Off A New Block: Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies





Levain, which means “leaven” in French, began life more than ten years ago as an artisan bread bakery on the ground level of a brownstone in the midst of the specialty food corridor on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. From the beginning, founders Connie McDonald and Pamela Weekes turned out breads that tasted as good as they looked: an olive semolina loaf, a red grape and rosemary focaccia that was before its time (people would look at the embedded grapes and think they were slices of hot dogs—we were one of the few people who bought it), ciabatta, whole wheat raisin walnut. A few sweets like bomboloncini, banana bread, pain au chocolat, and sticky buns served the neighborhood’s needs for fine breakfast pastry. Four huge cookies—three varieties of chocolate chip and an oatmeal raisin—sang like sirens, calling us to crash upon their chocolaty, buttery rocks.

We don’t like to use the A-word (addict), but we’d pass on all the caviar, the foie gras, the smoked salmon, the great cheeses, the pastries, et cetera for Levain’s cookies. You will know our quandary—you too will hear the siren’s song—after you have one of each.  The toughest thing, walking into the bakery, is to choose a single cookie. We’re willing to be adult about it and narrow it down to two. We’re also willing to split them and have a quarter of each (at a time). This is the technique we’ve developed after years of dealing with the exquisitely delicious, jumbo cookies of Levain.
Oatmeal and Chocolate Peanut Butter
Oatmeal Raisin (the raisins look very red, almost like dried cherries) and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip.


Continue To Page 2: Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie Flavors

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