Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies - "Levain-esque"

Levain-esque Chocolate Chip Walnut Chunk Cookies

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Many have tried, but I think it's fair to say, you can only get a chunky, walnutty, chocolatey chip Levain Bakery cookie at Levain Bakery. But, these come close -- and, if nothing else, they are delicious anyway!! Perfect for a snowy day. Hot chocolate not included. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

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  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ¾ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cake meal
  • 1¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

 

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter and both sugars. Cream until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. 

3. Add eggs. Mix until incorporated.

4. Add in cake meal, flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix on the lowest speed until all the flour is just incorporated. Do not over-mix.

5. Add in walnuts and chocolate chips and mix on lowest speed until just incorporated.

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6. Separate into two-inch clumps. Place no less than 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. I can fit a max of 8 cookies on mine. Do not roll into balls. Leave in loosely shape round clumps. 

7. Bake one sheet at a time in the middle row of the oven -- about 12-13 minutes. The tops should be golden and the cookies should appear cooked, but not set. Let cookies cool at least 15 minutes on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

XOXO

Brown Butter Nutella Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

BROWN BUTTER NUTELLA SEA SALT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES 

(Continuously adapted from I don't know what because I have been making them for that long)

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Ingredients:

2 1/2 Cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt

1/2 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)

1/2 cup chocolate chunks 

Nutella

Sea Salt

 

1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside. 

2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat whisking somewhat continuously until the butter begins to brown.  Once the butter has begun to brown and gives off a nutty aroma, remove from heat.

3. With an electric standing mixer or a hand mixer, blend butter and both sugars. Add the egg, vanilla and yogurt and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips and chunks.

4. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll into approximately 1.5 inch balls. Place two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Gently make a thumb print in the center of each cookie dough ball. Scoop a small teaspoon of Nutella into each and then fold the dough from the sides back over the Nutella. (If you need to grab a little dough off the bottom to completely cover the Nutella, that's OK too.) Roll back into a ball if need be. Flatten the tops just a tad.

7. Bake for about 12-14 or just until the edges begin to turn golden. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sea salt. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

Enjoy! xoxo

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Everyone has guilty pleasures. Mine range from a higher-brow perusing of the Sunday Styles with a cup of hazelnut coffee on a leisurely weekend morning to snuggling Lola on the couch on a night home alone, while watching HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” alongside a glass (or three) of wine and sour patch kids, simultaneously “pinning” decor and desserts to my hearts content. My frozen yogurt covered in chocolate sprinkles and gummy candies is probably more habit than the occasional guilty pleasure at this point, as putting off work deadlines to crawl into bed early with a pile of freshly delivered shelter magazines is a luxurious procrastination worth the consequences. I won’t get into tuna sandwiches stuffed with potato chips, but when it comes to drink, I’m a happy gal with a decidedly low-brow frozen margarita, no salt, right out of the whirly machine.

For the nine years we lived in LA, despite an early job there as the Style Writer for Los Angeles Magazine, designating me in the know of foodie trends and dining destinations, my guilty pleasure was an economical ice cream sandwich shop delineated by long lines of wallet-over-weight conscious college students near the campus of UCLA in Westwood Village. You will not find de rigueur gourmand flavors here, like bacon infused avocado with sea salt on a farm to table cone. At Diddy Reese one can simply choose any two basic, freshly baked cookies with a “premium” scoop of good ‘ol fashioned ice cream in the middle - for $2. Because the price has gone up. While plenty of artisanal ice cream locales have opened in Los Angeles, many of which I am all to fond of (Salt and Straw!), the simplicity of this standby is what makes it so good. 

When we first moved to LA, we also lived in this neighborhood along “the corridor,” the city’s main strip of high-rise apartments, a housing model which you can find in few other places in Los Angeles. We were coming from my beloved New York City and, despite moving to Los Angeles with and for Mike, I was still lonely and confused about my bright, new, palm-tree filled world. I saw that short crop of Wilshire Boulevard and figured, “tall, over-crowded buildings and no space — that’s the place for me!” I had no friends, a freelance writing career telecomuting with New York, and not even a car (by choice) to remove me from my new life in Los Angeles that I was clearly refusing to accept. But location, location, location! I could walk to Diddy Reese and eat my feelings. And that I did. Often. When we moved to Brentwood, happy and settled at this point with my own mode of transportation, I still went halfsies after a late night out and then, years later, insisted I was standing on that long line for the kids.

My go-to has — and always will be — two chocolate chip cookies with strawberry cheesecake chunk ice cream. I can’t quite figure out the psychology, but I flew back to New York from our trip to Spain and Portugal craving them. Perhaps eating one’s weight in savory manchego, huevos and chorizo induces a need for something on the sweeter side and traveling can make you long for a taste of home. 

Since I’ll have to wait a few weeks to discreetly get my fix in LA, I went on a mad search for a Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream recipe that I could pair with my brown butter chocolate chip cookies. I should have known I’d finally find the ice cream on What’s Gaby Cooking. So here it is - my homage to one of my many, but delicious, guilty pleasures. 

 

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

(Here below with STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE ICE CREAM adapted (only slightly) from What's Gaby Cooking)

 

BROWN BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

(Continuously adapted from I don't know what because I have been making them for that long)

Ingredients:

2 1/2 Cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt

1/2 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)

1/2 cup chocolate chunks 

 

1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside. 

2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat whisking somewhat continuously until the butter begins to brown.  Once the butter has begun to brown and gives off a nutty aroma, remove from heat.

3. With an electric standing mixer or a hand mixer, blend butter and both sugars. Add the egg, vanilla and yogurt and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips and chunks.

4. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll into approximately 1.5 inch balls. Place two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten the tops just a tad.

6. Bake for about 12-14 or just until the edges begin to turn golden. The center should not appear browned, as we want the cookies to remain nice and soft for the ice cream sandwiches. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

 

 

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE ICE CREAM 

via What's Gaby Cooking

For the strawberries:

For the strawberries:

1 cup fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2-3 tablespoons water

 

For the cheesecake ice cream base:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup heavy cream 

1 cup sour cream (*Note: I used Nonfat Greek Yogurt...to make this diet ice cream. Ahem)

2/3 cup light brown sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

For the strawberries:

For the cheesecake ice cream base:

1. In a saucepan heat all ingredients over low heat. Stir frequently until it boils. Reduce for a minute or two and remove from the heat. Transfer to a shallow container, mash berries with a fork or spoon and refrigerate.

2. In a bowl, beat cream cheese, heavy cream, sour cream and sugar just until smooth. Add zest, vanilla and salt. Combine, transfer to a container with a lid, or bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until very cold, 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

3. Place the mixture in your ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer´s directions.

4. Transfer to a freezer-proof container, add strawberry mixture, swirl a few times, cover and freeze until solid.

Smart Cookie

(From the archives)

smart cookie

“You will have a successful year in business,” read one friend.

“Your magnetic personality will take you far,” read another.

Assuming that mine would be much of the same, I popped a piece of my fortune cookie in my mouth and nonchalantly prepared to recite my tiny prophecy, which I would discreetly stow in my wallet as tangible validation if it positively applied in even the most arbitrary way to anything that was questionable in my life.

Anticipating a manufactured cliché, but hoping for one that I could at least inject with implied significance to project onto Mike during the car ride home, I pulled out the ubiquitous rectangular paper and found this weighty fortune:

“WORK ON IMPROVING YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE”

Fortune cookies are supposed to reveal factory-packaged slivers of hope or at least the punch line to a dirty joke. But while my friends received words of encouragement and gratuitous praise, I literally unraveled judgment. And did the person that prepared this bold-typed condemnation even recognize the irony that it was baked inside of a cookie?

If I wasn’t five months pregnant with twins and hadn’t arrived at the restaurant to see my dinner companions in huddled whispers with the host, discussing what I later learned was their concern that I would not be able to fit in the booth, this would have seemed less comical. The well-meaning waiter had even asked if I would like something spicy to help induce labor, assuming that at this girth I had to be well past my due date.

At this point I could still get my knee-high boots over my calves and my trademark bangles were still firmly on my wrists. I did not yet know that within a month or two I would no longer be able to push the bracelets over the bear paws that soon passed for my hands or that even Birkenstocks would become a distant memory. I was literally barefoot and pregnant. By the end of my pregnancy, the small tattoo of a delicate, fluttering monarch butterfly that I had emblazoned on my right hip in high school to coyly peak out over my low-slung, vintage bell-bottoms took on the countenance of an angry pterodactyl.

But after many years of heartache in my inability to conceive, I was simply too overcome with bliss and gratitude to indulge vanity or signs. It’s true – love is blind. Plus, I could no longer see the tattoo anyway.

The boys spent the first week with me in the hospital covered in my salty tears. I thought my heart would burst with the love that I felt for them.

But as the months wore on and my love for Sweetlips and The Bean grew, so ultimately did my fear. It wasn’t until they were on the outside and I was on my own that I had any perception of the physical toll that both the years leading up to and the pregnancy itself had taken. Five months after I gave birth, a flight of stairs left me unreasonably winded and my stomach muscles were so weak that I could not sit up in bed without using my arms to pull myself. Not to mention the fact that I had amassed an enviable wardrobe over the years from keen collecting and editorial swag and if I continued to rely on maternity leggings, my sartorial classics would sadly soon be archived.

One afternoon, when the boys were six months, I laid down for a quick rest while they napped. And as my mind wandered, I began to think about all of their tiny accomplishments – the first time Bean smiled. The determination that Sweetlips exuded as he rocked back and forth until he willed himself to roll over. No matter how clichéd, no one can prepare you for the awe you feel in the miracles that are your children.

And then I thought about the milestones to come. The first time we would take them to the beach or teach them to ride bikes. Their first day of kindergarten and the painful, but proud day when we would drop them off at college. As I imagined my tiny little men one day getting married, I began to weep. I decided then and there that I needed to do whatever was in my power to be there.

The next day, I rejoined the gym, met a trainer who has truly given me strength and then literally began running for my life.

While only a time machine will bring my postpartum stomach and boobs back to their pre-baby state, a man recently shouted at me, “You are the hottest piece of meat on the street!”

I was in a dark and desolate alley, running to catch a train out of Penn Station in the hopes of making it home in time to put my now eighteen-month-old babes to sleep, and this kind man who had just been talking to a garbage can clearly did not have all of his faculties. For all I know he was so inebriated that he was mistaking me for actual sidewalk vendor street meat, but once you are insulted by a fortune cookie you feign ignorance for flattery. Exactly one year had passed since my pledge and I was so elated from the unsolicited, if not in fact delusional, catcall that I shouted, “Thank you!”…. Three times.

From the day that I became pregnant with Sweetlips and The Bean, regardless of life’s many challenges, I have woken up each morning feeling eternally grateful for my unexpected good fortune.

And those words of wisdom that I unwrapped during what seems like a lifetime ago? This week I was amused to find them sitting snuggly in my wallet right where they belonged.

_____________

In the spirit of a healthy lifestyle (and because I don't know how to make fortune cookies), here is my all time favorite cookie recipe:

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

(POSSIBLY STUFFED WITH NUTELLA & MAYBE SPRINKLED WITH SEA SALT)

*Note: I adapted this cookie recipe from haphazard instructions passed along in an old email chain more than a decade ago and I’ve been baking them ever since. I tried to put them into proper format for you here. They should be golden on the outside and soft and scrumptious on the inside. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2.5 Cups Oatmeal

1 Cup Butter

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup Brown Sugar

3 Eggs

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

2 Cups Flour

2 Cups Flour

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

12 Ounces Chocolate Chips

*Nutella (optional)

*Sea Salt (optional)

 

Blend oatmeal in a blender or food processor to a fine powder. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips to the bowl and mix using a standing or handheld mixer (or serious elbow grease). The “batter” will not appear wet, but somewhat grainy — it should still stick together when you roll it into a ball. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Roll into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. (*Optional Nutella: Press a thumb into the center of each cookie ball. Fill thumbprint with a small teaspoon of Nutella. Press the cookie dough back over the nutella covering the nutella completely and reshape into balls if necessary.) Bake for approximately 15 minutes.

*Optional: Sprinkle with seas salt right when they come out of the oven.

Enjoy!