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Friday, January 12, 2018

The BEST chocolate chip cookie on Earth

Week 1
Attempted Pin: Copycat NYC Levian Bakery Chocoalte Chip Cookie Recipe
Score: 7  NAILED it! (After some tweaks)

I love chocolate. Wait. I love DARK chocolate. I'm not tempted by anything with white or milk chocolate, which probably saves me thousands of calories....but when good quality dark chocolate crosses my path, I can't resist. I love the deep, luscious, bitter sweet taste as it melts in my mouth. When I first discovered Ghiradelli makes extra large bittersweet dark chocolate chips, I swore off Nestle, store brand, and Hershey's. There is no competition. Guittard is okay, but Ghiradelli is the BOMB. Not only is the flavor exponentially more delicious, but their enormous size makes baked goods look beautiful and the gooey factor is sublime. And for  the most part only about .50 more per bag, so totally worth it! When they go on sale, I am known to purchase 10 or 12 bags...there's always room in the pantry for my dark chocolate fix! Our grocery store had them priced to sell after Christmas...$1.33 a bag, so I may have bought 21 bags. ( Don’t judge until you taste! )

I love to bake. And I have a major sweet tooth. But I do not care for store made or prepackaged baked goods. They just don't taste flavorful. So, I bake some sort of sweet about once a week, if I'm being honest. It's usually something chocolatey. My love for chocolate has spurred a decade long search for THE perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I think this is purely based on personal preference...some people may prefer flat or crunchy cookies...or cookies that have a meager amount of chocolate chips. I have no idea why. Blech. My perfect cookie is one that can hold its shape- not cakey- but dense and moist (borderline gooey) and preferably with AT LEAST one dark chocolate chip per bite. And I know that shortening is effective in obtaining a thick, dense cookie, but I just can't bring myself to cook or bake with it. I've been through Pinterest and google testing any recipe that claims to be the best of these qualities and without Crisco...and have only found one that I consider worthy of giving as a gift or serving to guests.  Levian, a bakery in New York City, is known for their cookies.  You can order and have them shipped world wide. So when I stumbled across a recipe that claims to be a Levain knock off, I was thrilled! 

There are a ton of Levian "copycat" recipes on Pinterest.[]=levian%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=chocolate%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=chip%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=cookie%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=recipe%7Ctyped

I tried about 10 different versions and then perfected it to my taste buds. 
The recipe calls for cold butter and the directions warn not to mix longer than just to blend the ingredients. This keeps the ingredients cold and the flour from getting too overworked. I use egg product because egg yolks gross me out (and I feel a little less guilty when I snack on the dough) and I always vigorously shake the egg container before pouring to whip them up a bit. The dough takes minutes to make.

my cookie scooper,  1/4 C
4 oz cookies

The cookies are enormous, and I have found that adding cornstarch ensures a thick, dense texture (without having to resort to Crisco). It's also recommended that you refrigerate or freeze the cookie dough balls for at least two hours before baking to prevent any spreading during baking.  I usually make one cookie for anyone in the house interested, and then freeze the rest as dough balls so that we can just bake them as needed (or snack on the frozen dough balls when my children are not looking.)  As you can tell from the recipe below, two sticks of butter only yields 14 of these monster cookies. Yes they are fat pills. But they are worth it!

Yes it's a pain to adjust the temperature during the baking process. But baking at a higher temp initially helps "plump" the cookies and brown the edges. Trust me, you will be rewarded for the effort! 

If you are not a chocolate fanatic (seriously, what's wrong with you??!), you can reduce the chocolate chips to 1 cup (they are so big and full of flavor that the cookies still manage to taste delicious.  Enjoy!

Levian Copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 14 enormous cookies or 40 2-inch cookies

2 sticks cold butter, cut into small cubes                         1  tsp baking powder

3/4 c brown sugar                                                             1/2  tsp baking soda
3/4 c granulated sugar                                                      2 T corn starch
2 tsp vanilla                                                                       3 c flour
2 eggs                                                                               3/4 t sea salt (fine grain)
2 c Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips

Using an stand or hand held mixer, beat butter and sugars until just creams. Add egg and vanilla and mix just until incorporated. Stir in dry ingredients until batter is uniform (do not over stir) and then stir in 1 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Divide dough into 14 dough balls (4 oz each), adding chocolate chips to the top of each. You can also sprinkle a tiny bit of fine grain sea salt on top to bring out the sweetness of the bittersweet chocolate. 

Chill at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 375 and bake for 8 minutes, then reduce the temp to 325 and bake another 4-5 minutes just until cookies appear set. If you make them smaller (1 oversized tablespoon), you can get more than three dozen cookies easily (if you are not "tasting" the dough). If you make smaller 4 oz cookies, reduce baking time from 8 minutes to 6 minutes at 375 and then bake 4-5 minutes at 325.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the baking sheet for another 8-10 minutes (you must resist stuffing them into your mouth, they have to finish baking.) They will taste delicious but fall apart if you try to eat them before they have fully cooled. The cooled result will still have amazing melty chocolate chips, and the texture will be thick, dense, and not overly sweet. 

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