Make Levain Bakery Cookies at Home
March 23, 2019
Many of you know how much I love dessert. Layer cake is certainly my favorite, the more frosting the better. But I have had a long love affair with the famous dark chocolate and peanut butter chip Levain bakery cookies. Thankfully, I no longer live around the corner from the 74th Street New York City bakery, but that doesn’t mean that I have lost my craving for these truly amazing cookies. In fact, I decided it would be fun to try to recreate them at home. The good news: thanks to a lot of research (it is amazing what you can find on the Internet) by intrepid bakers before me, my version is nearly identical to the original. The bad news: I can make them whenever I want and they are almost impossible to resist. After I ate an entire cookie in 30 seconds flat, I packaged them up and sent them to my college students. If you do the same, freeze them overnight and then mail them. I am sure your children will be similarly excited.
I started with a terrific recipe by Cake by Courtney and made a few small changes. For starters, the original used extra large eggs which I quickly converted to large. I always use that size in my recipes as they are standard fare in many people’s refrigerators. Next, I concentrated on the cookie’s texture which to me tasted just a little bit dry. Upping the butter by two tablespoons was just enough to get the moist texture and firm-but-never-crumbly outside that I get at the bakery. Also, when I tasted them alongside the Upper West Side original, Courtney’s version wasn’t quite sweet enough for my taste so I added 2 additional tablespoons of granulated sugar. Finally, I reduced the amount of peanut butter chips. To me, the 10-ounce bag (or even a little less) was more than enough and the perfect balance for the deep, dark, ever-so chocolately cookie. Regardless of my tweaks, thank you, Courtney for sharing all of your research, making this home-made version possible.
Secrets for Success:
Flour doesn’t need to be sifted but should be measured properly. Either weigh using a scale or gently pour flour from a scoop or second measuring cup into the one that you are using for measuring and then level the top with a knife. (See illustrations below.)
Use Swans Down Cake Flour (not self-rising) for this recipe.
No cake flour: replace two tablespoons of all-purpose flour from every cup with two tablespoons of cornstarch.
Cocoa should be measured using this method as well.
DO NOT OVERMIX. Once the dry ingredients are added only mix on the lowest speed and stop when just combined.
Use Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder and Reese's Baking Chips for this recipe.
Copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
adapted from Cakes by Courtney
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cake flour
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3/8 cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg, large
2 egg yolks, from large eggs
1 bag (10 oz.) Reese's Peanut Butter baking chips (Don’t use any other brand)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium sized bowl. Whisk together. Set aside.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cold butter and sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the whole egg and egg yolks and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for about 30 more seconds.Turn the mixer on low speed and add the dry ingredients in three separate additions, only mixing until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated. Add the peanut butter chips and mix on low speed until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX!
Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (about 5-6 oz. each) and shape into balls. Place the cookie dough balls on the baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between. Press the top down lightly with your fingertips and bake for 11 minutes. The cookies will be quite soft but will firm as they cool.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or transfer to a rack to cool completely. Cookies keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container or can be frozen for up to 6 months. Microwave on high power for 10-20 seconds before serving, if desired.
Makes 8 extra-large cookies.