Levain Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
Ask any New Yorker where to find the best chocolate chip cookie, and they’ll likely direct you uptown toward Levain Bakery. I wanted to recreate these amazing cookies at home, for all those who don’t have access to these beautiful cookies that I could argue, are sent from God. I personally like to make them more than I like to buy them now, so I hope that speaks to how great this recipe is.
Like all baking recipes, it’s easy to f*ck up the final product if you don’t follow everything precisely. The main thing in this recipe that you must make sure the butter is cold when you combine it with the sugars. The temperature and texture of butter can drastically change the texture and shape of a cookie. In this instance, we want a big, poofy, gooey cookie that is buttery on the inside and crisp on the outside. Obviously, the rest of the ingredients affect this, but the cold butter prevents the whole cookie from falling completely flat. Another thing that I want to note is that I used cake flour in the original recipe…however, I now have changed it to accommodate anyone’s needs who cannot find cake flour. Just a quick little lesson for anyone wondering “wtf is cake flour and why are you using it for cookies:” the main difference in bread flour, all purpose flour, cake flour and pastry flour is the protein content. Cake flour has less protein, which results in light and fluffy baking for cake. On the other hand, bread flour has more protein that affects the structure of bread, which tends to be much more tough and dense than a light and fluffy cake. Ok, back to the second component to the recipe that you can’t skip. You must use a starch here. If you just use all-purpose flour without a starch, your cookies will come out more like scones, without that gooey inside. Corn starch is a thickener, but it also can change textures in baking and help you achieve softer baked goods. I’m not sure about this, but I bet those store-bought Chips Ahoy soft cookies incorporate a thickener like corn starch or xanthan gum. That’s what corn starch helps with. If you don’t have corn starch, try another starch or thickener, such as tapioca starch or xanthan gum.
IF YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE CAKE FLOUR:
Don’t follow the flour and starch measurements below. Instead, go with this.
- 1 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp corn starch
|1 1/4cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes|
|1cup light brown sugar|
|1/2cup white granulated sugar|
|2 large eggs|
|2 2/3cups all purpose flour|
|3tbsp corn starch|
|1 1/4tsp baking soda|
|1tsp Diamond kosher salt|
|1 3/4cups roughly chopped walnuts|
|1 1/2-2cups semisweet chocolate chips|
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or evenly coat with a thin layer of butter or nonstick spray.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
In a mixer or mixing bowl, add the brown sugar, white sugar and cold butter cubes. Using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer on low speed at first to fold the butter into the sugar. Then, increase the speed gradually, until the mixture is creamy and the butter is fully folded in, without any chunks. Do not do this at high speed because it will melt the butter, which will cause the cookies to fall flat. Make sure to constantly scrape off sides of bowl and continue to mix until butter is fully combined. If you don't have a standing mixer, use your hands to slowly fold the butter into the sugar, pinching it until it begins to combine. Once the butter breaks down a bit, use a wooden spoon to fold the butter in until the mixture is creamy.
Add in eggs and mix at medium speed until fully combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary and continue until the eggs are fully incorporated. If not using a standing mixer, fold the eggs in with a spoon until fully combined.
Next, add in the rest of all dry ingredients (cake flour, cornstarch, baking soda, all purpose flour, and salt) and mix at low speed until fully combined. If not using a standing mixer, use a spoon or spatula to fold together.
Add in walnuts and mix at low speed, followed by the chocolate chips at low speed as well, until both are evenly distributed in the mixture.
Gently mix in chocolate chips and walnuts a few more times with hands to ensure they are evenly distributed.
A little note: if you are making these during summer or live in a warm climate, wrap the dough in cling wrap and chill for an hour before baking. This will help the cookies maintain their robust structure. I have made these without chilling, but if you have any doubts, definitely chill them before baking.
This recipe calls for kosher salt as it dissolves the best in the batter. If you only have sea salt, use 1/2 tsp. Beware that if you are using coarse sea salt, your final cookie may result in having salt crystals in it that haven't dissolved. That's why kosher salt is preferred here!