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levain chocolate chip cookiesi think it’s pretty sacrilege to admit this, as a cookie lover, but i have never actually had a levain bakery chocolate chip cookie. i’ve seen them on numerous instagram snaps, heard about them ten times over, but i’ve never actually eaten one myself.

which is why it might seem ridiculous that i set out to recreate them on sunday afternoon – how could i recreate something i’ve never eaten? my line of thinking goes like this: what’s so special about the levain cookies is that they are ENORMOUS (6 oz of dough a piece, they weigh them before baking!); crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. and also, i’m pretty sure that my chocolate chip cookie recipe is one of the best i’ve tried (and i’ve tried many). why fix what ain’t broken? why not just use my own recipe, with a few tweaks, to make a doughier (more flour), larger (more dough), chocolate-ier (semi sweet chunks instead of chips) cookie?

so, that’s what i did. and while they may not taste exactly like the levain version, they look BOMB.com. and taste pretty damn good if i do say so myself. of course, they’re best hot out of the oven, so if you have to eat them the day after, reheat in the microwave and thank me later.

levain bakery’s chocolate chip cookies (my version):

what you’ll need:

  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (I used King Arthur Unbleached AP Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes ( i took mine straight out of the freezer)
  • ¾ cup + 4 teaspoons (6 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, cold, lightly beaten in a separate bowl
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chunks (i got mine at trader joes)

what you’ll do: 

1. line two baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

2. mix your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt) in a medium bowl, set aside.

3. in a stand mixer, beat your butter until fluffy, then add your sugar and beat until incorporated.

4. reduce your speed to medium-low and add eggs, then vanilla.

5. gradually beat in the flour mixture, and then stir in your chocolate chunks/chips.

6. divide your dough into 12 equal portions, and shape into circles. place 6 cookies on each baking sheet, and pop them in the fridge for 30 minutes (you can do this up to 12 hours before if you’d like) to chill.

7. bake at 375 for 18-22 minutes in the middle of the oven, then remove to cool. they’ll continue to cook as they cool, so don’t be afraid to take them out too ‘early’ – early is better in this case!

8. eat immediately, if possible, but you can also put them in a tupperware and reheat in the microwave when you want to eat them. they reheat well and taste oh so much better when they’re warm.

happy baking!

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a couple of years ago for hanukkah, my parents gifted me with what i consider to be my very own bible: the all-american cookie book by nancy baggett. this book is where 99% of my favorite cookie recipes come from, with the exception of one: the peanut butter kiss.

 you’ve probably had a peanut butter kiss before. in fact, in high school i once made out with a guy after a party who tasted a lot like peanut butter. et voila, a peanut butter kiss! no, but really – it’s my experience that many a man taste like peanut butter when you kiss them. hey, it’s better than tasting of cigarettes and stale beer, right?

 anywho, you’ve also probably had a peanut butter kiss COOKIE before, too. you know, those deliciously crackly peanut butter cookies wrapped in sugar, the ones with a hershey’s kiss melted smack dab into the middle. there’s little better in life than peanut butter and chocolate (mint and chocolate is pretty damn amazing too), as reese’s cups and haagen dazs’ chocolate peanut butter ice cream demonstrate. these cookies are incredibly simple and take less than 10 minutes to whip up, then another ten to bake. they taste amazing, look adorable, and make a great gift. right now, there’s a bunch of them sitting in my glass cookie jar, looking pretty all day every day. 

 seriously, you can’t go wrong with these. they converted my peanut butter hating roommate into a fan. girl ever asked for the recipe. that’s when you know she’s come over to the dark side of PB and chocolate. you’ll notice that i went for hershey’s white chocolate swirl kisses. this wasn’t intentional. i was actually quite unhappy when i opened the bag and saw i’d gotten the wrong kind –  but you know what? turns out peanut butter is just as good with white chocolate as it is with milk chocolate. 

The Recipe *adapted from a cooks.com recipe search

 1 3/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

4 tbsp milk

2 tsp vanilla

1 bag hershey’s kisses (flavor of your choice)

 additional 1/2 cup white sugar

 to make, preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease two baking sheets (or cover with parchment paper or silicone mats).

 combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. set aside. in a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer, if you’ve got one), mix sugars, butter, peanut butter, egg, milk and vanilla until creamy. go on, dip your finger in. it’s goooood, isn’t it? now, slowly mix in the dry ingredients.

 take your additional 1/2 cup of white sugar and put it in a small bowl. roll your dough into golf-sized balls (or a little smaller) and roll in the sugar. place on cookie sheet, about 1″ apart. bake for 8-10 minutes (they should be golden and cracked around the top), and immediately place a single chocolate kiss* in the center of each cookie.

 *insider’s tip: peel the wrappers from your kisses ahead of time, and stick them in a bowl in the freezer. this ensures that they won’t melt entirely when you put them into the hot cookies.

 now, resist the urge to eat the whole batch at once. or don’t. but don’t blame me if you have a tummy ache tomorrow. 

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when i first started this blog, i thought i’d mostly write about cookies, because they’re the thing i make more than anything. but since it’s been hot as balls outside, i’ve been experimenting (i’ve got some great  easy popsicle recipes coming up!), and since i’ve been working long hours, i’ve been procrastinating on food gawker, finding some cool non-cookie recipes. but with this recipe, i’m going back to my roots. you know, my cookie roots.

if you ask me, there’s really nothing better than a freshly baked cookie. slightly crisp on the outside, perfectly chewy on the inside. a good cookie isn’t halfway to heaven – it’s all the way there, propelling you past the stars into some outer space like region where everything sparkles and is drenched in natural sunlight and filled with the most adorable kittens you’ve ever seen. what? that’s not your vision of heaven?

anywho, there’s not much to say about these cookies, except that they involve peanut butter. and oats. and when you put those two things together, magic happens. i know everyone hates on oatmeal raisin cookies. they’re like the bastard stepchild of chocolate chip, the one that always has to sit way at the end of the dinner table and gets served last at breakfast. but i LOVE oatmeal cookies, because they’re thick and chewy and substantial (sometimes, a chocolate chip cookie just ain’t enough). now, that’s not to say i don’t love a good chocolate chip recipe. you know i do. i’m just saying, sometimes you need a lil more somethin’ somethin’….you know what i mean?

of course you do. and you’re going to make these guys and REALLY know what i mean. i stumbled across this recipe on my favorite time-wasting website, pinterest, and bookmarked them immediately. i mean, hello, can you say “peanut butter oatmeal sandwich cookie” three times fast? i can. this recipe yields the sort of homey, straight to the top of your “comfort food” list, stuff your face while you’re watching bad TV cookies that sweet dreams are made of.

let’s make ’em, shall we?

*recipe adapted from broma bakery.

The Recipe

For the cookies:

1 1/2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
 2  teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey roasted peanut butter (you can find it freshly ground at Whole Foods)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
for the filling:
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2-4 tbsp milk (for extra creaminess)
1 tsp vanilla
to make, preheat your oven to 350. in a medium sized bowl, mix the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. set aside. in a stand mixer (or a large bowl, if you don’t have a stand mixer), whip the butter and sugars until creamy. mix in the egg and beat until incorporated then do the same with the peanut butter and vanilla. note: i added more vanilla than broma’s original recipe. i add more vanilla to everything i bake. in fact, i don’t even measure it. i just pour it in. and it always tastes better.
now, beat in your dry ingredients until just incorporated (don’t overbeat!). now, place rounded teaspoon-sized balls of batter onto an ungreased baking sheet. note: i use silicon baking mats on all my baking sheets. they help your cookies bake more evenly and prevent burning and sticking. get one. bake your cookies for 8-10 minutes, until golden on the sides. let cool for a few minutes on your baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
while your cookies are cooling, clean your stand mixer bowl and get to work on the filling. beat the confectioner’s sugar and peanut butter until light and airy. i needed to add some milk to mine to thin it out, and i also added a few squirts of vanilla. what? i can’t help it. i’m a vanillaholic.
to make, line up your cookies and match them up sizewise. then, spread about a teaspoon of filling onto one cookie and top with another. smush together to spread out the filling. et voila! sandwich cookies that are WAY better than any regular sandwich could ever be.

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what’s better than chocolate?

NOTHING. that’s right, folks. there’s little in life i believe to be better than chocolate. well, maybe cats. cats, and cookies – is it a coincidence that all these things start with the letter “c”? i think not. 

so, back to the chocolate. you know what’s good? a really well-made snickerdoodle. you know what’s even better than a really well-made snickerdoodle? a CHOCOLATE snickerdoodle. oh yes, my friends, a choc.o.late. snickerdoodle. break it down and think about it. think about all that cinnamon sugary goodness mixing with the amazing invention that is chocolate. i’m one of those people who thinks most things are made better by the addition of chocolate. peanut butter? way better when it’s with chocolate. mint? HELLO, peppermint patties! junior mints! those babies would be nothing without my dear friend chocolate. and while we’re on the subject, i’ll go right ahead and say it: when my dear aunt flo comes to visit, get outta my way, especially if “in my way” means “standing in front of the chocolate at the grocery store.” i think most women would agree, when it’s that time of the month (and when we’re sad/angry/happy/frustrated/cranky/tired/emotional), we need to find us some chocolate, and fast.

it was in one of these sad/happy/emotional states that i decided that snickerdoodles, an old standby in the spiced cookie category, could use a little, well, spicing up. and what better way to improve upon something already delicious than by adding chocolate? so add chocolate i did! and i am proud to say the results were pretty darn spectacular. these cookies still taste like traditional snickerdoodles, but they also, miraculously, taste like chocolate. these are so good, they’ve got me thinking i need to make me some mexican chocolate (cinnamon, almonds and vanilla) sometime soon. but we’ll save that for another day.

The Recipe (adapted from The All American Cookie Book’s recipe for “Best Ever Snickerdoodles”)

2 3/4 cups all purpose white flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3 tbsp cocoa powder (i get mine at trader joe’s)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened (note: this means you can stick them in the mic – but only for about 15 seconds!)

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup

2 large eggs

2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For topping

1/4 cup sugar, combined with 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

preheat oven to 375. grease several baking sheets or line them with silicone baking mats. 

in a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and nutmeg; set aside. in another large bowl (preferably a stand mixer), beat together the butter, sugar, and corn syrup until well blended and fluffy, about two minutes. add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended and smooth. turn the mixer to low/off and add half the flour mixture. increase speed and beat until the flour mixture is evenly incorporated. turn back down to low, add the remaining flour mixture, and beat again until incorporated.

let the dough stand for 5-10 minutes to firm up slightly. in the meantime, mix up your cinnamon sugar topping in a small bowl. 

when your dough is ready to go, roll portions into soft 1 1/2 inch balls. roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture until fully covered. place on baking sheets, spacing evenly about 2-3 inches apart. bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 8-11 minutes (mine took about 10). transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1-2 minutes. then, transfer the cookies to wire cooling racks. if you keep them on the hot baking sheets, they’ll continue to cook. let stand until completely cooled. now, eat, drool, and proceed to eat again.

store in an airtight container for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 2 months. 


when i was a wee little thing back in high school, my nickname was “mrs. fields” – after the infamous cookie shop found in every suburban mall around the country, and supposed maven of all things chocolate chip. i loved me a good bake sale, and my a capella group always needed to raise more moolah. i spent many a first period sitting outside the library in a little nook that was positively made for bake sales, touting my brownies and cookies and things.

chocolate chip cookies are one of the first recipes i learned to bake myself (though i also make a mean no-cook peanut butter ball), but it took me years to truly perfect the art. you see, folks, there is an art to chocolate chip cookie baking. too sweet means you can’t eat much of them. too salty means they don’t taste like cookies. too flat means a crunch that simply shouldn’t be associated with anything in the cookie family, and don’t even try to talk to me about anything that comes from the pre-made area in the supermarket.

here are a few things i’ve learned over the years, otherwise known as “follow these rules if you want a perfect cookie.”

* always add a little more vanilla than the recipe calls for. don’t think, just pour.

* don’t over-melt your butter! it took me years to figure this out. YEARS, people. i’d read “slightly softened” and stick that baby in the microwave and end up with flatter than flat cookies. i have had many a meltdown over cookies that came out flat. i don’t even want to talk about it. actually, yes i do. in these situations, i freak out and through out the entire batch. i don’t do pancake cookies. can’t handle it. they make my eyes water the way onions do. when it comes to butter, room temperature means leave it out for a little while to soften. as a general rule, don’t put butter in the microwave. when you do, you tend to over-melt it. leave it out and let it do its thing. if your butter goes into the dough 75% melted, it’ll melt the other 25% in the oven – which is what makes for pancake cookies.

* keep your chocolate chips in the freezer. this way, when you add them into the dough, they’re cool – so they won’t totally melt when the dough goes into the oven.

* invest in a stand mixer. once you go kitchen aid, you never go back. trust.

The Recipe (taken from The All-American Cookie Book)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (two sticks) butter, slightly softened (remember what we learned about butter above)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (note: i like to add 3)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (i use the bag from trader joe’s)
optional: 2 cups nuts (i hate nuts. no nuts for me. keepin’ it simple.)
preheat the oven to 375. grease your baking sheets, or lay silicone baking mats (lifesavers!) on your baking sheets instead and grease those lightly. 
in a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. set aside. in a large bowl (or stand mixer), beat together butter, brown sugar and sugar until well-blended and fluffy. this may take a few minutes. once fluffy, add the eggs and vanilla. mix well. stir in the flour mixture, then add chocolate chips (and nuts if you’re one of those weirdos that likes that sort of thing). 
now, eat at least three spoonfuls of dough. consider putting aside a bit of dough for those bad days when you just need to stuff your face with something delicious. 
once you’re feeling sufficiently nauseous from the raw egg consumption, drop the dough onto your baking sheets about two inches apart. they should be about the size of a tablespoon. bake cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of your oven for 8-11 minutes. take those babies out when they’re golden brown all over and slightly darker at the edges. Let cool on the sheets a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks. 
store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 month.
 
 

meet the perfect cookie: crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, and oh.so.chewy. you can thank chef anne burrell for this masterpiece - the molasses cookie. simple to make, fast to bake, amazing to eat. 

a few months ago, i watched anne make these cookies on her show, secrets of a restaurant chef. she served them with a coriander chicken dish that i have yet to make, and i literally salivated whilst sitting on my couch. i made the cookies that day, and have since made them multiple times. 

this recipe is a huge crowd pleaser - my coworkers love it, my friends adore it, even the folks at the bar method (where people are long and lithe and appear to never have consumed a single cookie in their entire lives) can’t resist these babies.

make them now, thank me late.r 

oatmeal raisin cookies from the all-american cookie book.* perfectly dense and deliciously chewy, these babies are everything a great cookie should be. 

*i received this book for hanukkah a few years ago, and it’s probably the only cookbook i use on a regular basis. the author, nancy baggett, is a true cookie connoisseur; for every recipe in the book, she’s got a back story to go with it. for instance, did you know that the earliest oatmeal raisin cookie recipe appeared in a church cookbook published way back in 1906? it wasn’t until 1910 that quaker oats put a cookie recipe on its box.