Tuesday, August 4, 2009

NYC and Levain Cookies

A few months ago, Kins and I ventured out for a long weekend of urban exploring in the city that never sleeps. Among the sites and museums, one of the main attractions was the food. New York is a virtual Mecca of all things culinary good. They have some of the most critically acclaimed, groundbreaking, and pricey restaurants in the world while also having some of the exact same in cheaper street food/quick stops.

Pizza, hot dogs (franks) and the likes have been staples among New Yorker’s non sit-down meals or snacks and have appeal to tourists alike. Shit, they even have a place that just serves only fries (Pomme Frites)! That's the only item on their menu! We used a few websites including Yelp.com to figure out where we would be stopping to nosh and made some obvious choices - Gray’s Papaya for hot dogs and some less popular picks - Bleeker Street for Pizza and Buddha Bodai for dim sum. While searching for these treats, I had the thought to find a good bakery up there too. I stumbled across Levain in my search and couldn’t resist trying it for their much-touted cookies.

So after an early morning beginning with H&H bagels, we ventured deeper into the upper west side to this tiny downstairs bakery. We opted to try their Chocolate Chip Walnut cookie that even Oprah can’t keep her grubby little hands off of, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip cookie, and a scone. After seeing the whopping cookies in person, I had my doubts that this was among the competitors for best cookie in the country, let alone world. After all, the cookies look more like a slice of cake than a flat cookie and when you brake one apart it even looks cakey! But all the skepticism was laid to rest when I sunk my teeth into those puppies.

The cookie is moist and dense. Much more so than it’s appearance lends itself to. After sampling all of the baked goods the (surprisingly) real winner was the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip. This cookie is beyond unique and represents cookie perfection.

Picture above is from the Levain website.

Lately, I’ve been on quite the baking kick and set out to recreate these cookies since having four of these suckers sent to you will set you back 22 bucks. I stumbled across this baking blog and set out to try the recipe.

Frankly, my recipe didn’t come out at all like the Levain cookie. All of the flavors were there, just the texture was off. I attempted to stack the dough higher than usual on the pan to achieve the thickness of the original, but it flattened out considerably. The interior wasn’t as cakey looking either. Despite these flaws, all of the flavors of Levains masterpiece were present and I was very happy with the results. The cookie has a good bit of chew to it and the edges were perfectly crispy. The chocolate flavor is tasteful and not overpowering. My only true problem with this recipe is the amount of suggested chips. Definitely reduce this as there was nearly as much chips as there was dough. Outside of that, I highly recommend this recipe.

Levain Bakery on Urbanspoon

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