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


Page 2: Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie Flavors

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Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie Flavors

Chocolate Chip Cookie
Chocolate Chip Walnut cookie; in the rear, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookie.

Looking like huge scones—about three inches in diameter and more than an inch high—and weighing in at six  ounces each, Levain Bakery’s cookies prove that you can’t have too much of a good thing. While management is mum about the exact ingredients, they do affirm that “the best of everything” is required to make a cookie that tastes this good.

And we confirm: not only is there “the best,” but plenty of it. There are many things that excite about these cookies—the size, the fragrance, the buttery richness. But what stands out over other cookies is how much chocolate (or raisin) per mouthful one gets. Sometimes, it seems like one is eating chocolate with a little cookie thrown in. In other hands, this could be too much, especially given the size of the cookie. In the hands of Levain, one feels that the search has ended; as if we never ate another company’s chocolate chip cookie in our life, it would be O.K.

Levain Bakery’s cookies include:

  • The classic, Chocolate Chip Walnut, packed with semisweet chocolate chips and walnut chunks. When we stop nibbling for a brief moment to take a look, we gauge there are about equal proportions of chocolate morsels to dough—as it should be, we conclude. Often, we have added 50 percent more morsels to the Toll House recipe to achieve this proportion. That was when we were satisfied with the Toll House recipe. Now that we have become thoroughly “Levained,” only these will do.
  • Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip is made with French cocoa and semisweet chips. Double chocolate chip is something we generally steer away from: it’s too much chocolate for us. However, this double chocolate cookie is perfection. The flavors are so complex that, as with tasting fine wine (or a fine gourmet chocolate bar), the secondary characteristics of the chocolate show themselves. Hints of coconut and cocoa add nuances to the chocolate, butter and sugar blend that please us enormously.
  • Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip is our favorite peanut butter chocolate chip cookie ever. There are tons of peanut butter chips in that superb dark chocolate cookie. One should not think of food as a reward, but this often is ours. Thank goodness the recipe is a guarded secret: we might O.D. on the uncooked batter.
  • Oatmeal Raisin is chock full of as many plump raisins as one could hope to find in an oatmeal raisin cookie. Because of its large size and moist center, this is a different style of oatmeal cookie. Most we come across are chewy and oatier; this is a sweeter, smoother, melt-in-your-mouth cookie with more emphasis on the raisins than the texture of the oats. There are butterscotchy undertones.

The only choice is to try them all. If you’re not a peanut butter or an oatmeal raisin person you get a pass, but still are encouraged to take a gander at these. If you don’t want to finish them, you can be assured that someone else will.

When they arrive, the frustration with Levain’s cookies is that they look and smell so incredibly good, you want to taste them all, immediately. This is why one needs friends, cookie-eating friends, who will share. Bring the cookies and meet them at the gym; work out, get that metabolic rate up. Then go out for coffee or tea. Divide the cookies in four, have a quarter of each, and experience cookie satisfaction.


Continue To Page 3: History Of The Chocolate Chip Cookie

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