The Levain Bakery is located in the Big Apple, otherwise known as New York City; they also have a second bakery in the Hamptons. It is famous for its extraordinarily large (6 ounces), not to mention extraordinarily delicious, cookies. I guess I’d have to throw in extraordinarily expensive as well! I have never been to the bakery but have avidly read all the reviews of their four famous cookies—chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate chocolate chip, dark chocolate peanut butter chip, and last but not least their oatmeal raisin cookies. The chocolate chip walnut is Oprah’s favorite cookie, and I have to agree with Oprah!
Bakers, particularly in the blogosphere, have been trying to duplicate these decadent cookies for several years now. I, too, joined the hunt once I learned of the Levain Bakery offerings. Never having eaten one, though, I was at a disadvantage in trying to come up with a knock-off version. Recently, I bit the bullet and ordered Levain’s 4-cookie sampler online, one each of the aforementioned beauties. At $27.00 for the assortment not counting shipping costs, they are four very pricey cookies indeed! It was worth it, though, to finally be able to eat and enjoy each of the four varieties and decide whether all the fuss and fanfare were legitimate.
These are very special cookies—but, having said that, I think they suffer in comparison to the knock-off versions I’ve made. It’s really unfair to compare a freshly made cookie, warm from the oven, with one that was shipped an unknown number of days previously. Don’t get me wrong—they were very, very good but needed to be refreshed via microwaving or warming in the oven. Even then, however, I thought my cloned versions were better. (Do I hear someone pulling out their mixer and rattling their cookie sheets?)
I have previously posted knock-off versions of Levain’s chocolate chip walnut and dark chocolate chocolate chip cookies. I cannot use enough superlatives to describe either of them. Do yourself a favor and make them. Just do it. You can thank me later.
My attempt at replicating their oatmeal raisin cookie was easier than for the previous two cookies because I had the actual cookie in hand (and mouth!). Who knew research could be this much fun?
As with the chocolate chip walnut and dark chocolate chocolate chip cookies I had made, I decided four ounces was the perfect weight for a large cookie which would provide textural contrast as you ate your way through it. You go from crispy, to cakey, to somewhat gooey all in one cookie.
The original Levain oatmeal raisin cookies tasted cinnamon-free to me, but I do like cinnamon in my oatmeal cookies. I experimented by adding one teaspoon to the first batch I made, but the cinnamon was almost undetectable. I added two teaspoons to my second batch; I could taste the cinnamon, but it was understated. I tried adding three teaspoons (a full tablespoon) to a third batch, but I thought it was too strong at that point. Two teaspoons were perfect for me. If you like cinnamon in your oatmeal cookies and want more than just a hint of it, I think 2 1/2 teaspoons will probably hit the mark.
I took the cookies in to work for a professional sensory evaluation, and Juan declared that my second batch (the one with two teaspoons of cinnamon) was the new gold standard for oatmeal cookies. In addition, Roger met his friend Jeff for coffee and brought one along. Jeff always rates my baked goods—and up to this point he had never given a 10 rating. The best previously was a 9.8. Roger told me that everyone knows the Polish judges never give a 10. I am happy to report that finally the Polish judge gave a 10 rating for these cookies!
One year ago: Southwestern Eggs with Chorizo
Two years ago: Tomato Sauce
Levain Bakery Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Clone
- 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold & grated
- 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. sea salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon, optional
- 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
- 1 cup raisins
In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, cream cheese, and both sugars just until creamy. Don’t overbeat. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat just until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon (if using); add in the oats and mix. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet batter. When thoroughly mixed, stir in raisins and walnuts.
Divide dough into 12 segments each weighing 4 ounces. If you have a kitchen scale, just weigh out 4-oz. portions.
Form cookie dough into large balls; do not press flat! Keep them as balls on the cookie sheets. Place on ungreased, nonstick cookie sheets or on parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake one sheet at a time. If your kitchen is warm and the cookie dough gets too soft before baking, chill them until they firm up again. The cookies are not supposed to flatten.
Put the cookies in a 375o degree oven and set timer for 8 minutes. When timer rings, without opening oven or removing cookies, reduce heat to 325o and bake for another 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies appear set.
Source: A recipe from the Vanilla Sugar blog
I realize that grating the cold butter adds an extra step to the process, but I did it each of the three times I made them. This is a common technique in many baked goods when you want to have a little pool of butter scattered throughout the recipe. (I’m anal about stuff like this.) If you want to skip the grating to save time, it will probably still be a spectacularly good cookie.
I always try anything I bake while it is still warm from the oven. In the case of these cookies, I thought they were better after they had cooled down.