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Archive for the 'Levain Bakery' Category

The Levain chocolate chip cookie: The choice of top pastry chefs

Over the years I have found that New Yorkers have strong opinions about their favorite chocolate chip cookie.  I think this is because our personal cookie style and texture preference is solidified during childhood.  As we age, the emotional connection remains.  And the easiest way to reconnect with your childhood is to experience your favorite cookie.  Or, it could just be people like butter, sugar and chocolate chips!

Recently, I asked some of the best pasty chefs (who aren’t listed on my restraining order), who bakes their favorite chocolate chip cookie?  I expected to get 20 diplomatic  answers of “well–it’s hard to say, ther’re all so good…”  But to my surprise, many  were willing to share their their opinions.  All of these chefs spent some time working in New York kitchens. (more…)

DessertTruck Works chocolate chip cookie

This weekend I was with some friends and the issue of the best chocolate chip cookie in New York came up.  Since we were on the upper west side at the time I pointed out that four of the top 20 were withing walking distance.  I recommended a tour of Alice’s Tea Cup, Levain and Jacques Torres which are all within 3 blocks of each other – you could add Silver Moon Bakery to get some additional exercise in prior to the tasting.  West Seventy fourth (and 73) street really is a corridor of gourmet chocolate chip cookies. (more…)

Leave no scone unturned: 11 great NYC Scones

Posted by JK on March 8th, 2010

Like muffins, New York City scones are a great excuse to eat cake for breakfast.  Or, depending on where you get them, to eat cookies in the morning.  Or, basically, to have dessert any damn time of day you want.  We have an especially wide array of different types here in the city as New York is truly the Madagascar of scones.  Anywho, here is my list of 12 recommended scones.


I’ll start with my favorite scone, the raisin scone from Payard. [Payard is closed, try Francois Chocolate Bar for pastry- no scones or bread to date 3-1-2010] A very thin crisp shell with a sweet soft Challah-like inside.  The aroma of the center of this scone is one of the great food pleasures for $1.50.  Notes: Go early or they won’t have any left.  More on Payard.

The Maple scones from Blue Ribbon Bakery are almost like shortbread cookies. They are very small, sweet and flavorful with a thin layer of frosting.  Perfect if you are not in the mood for a full-on bread bomb.  More desserts from Blue Ribbon.

The goat cheese and herb savory scone from Clinton Street Baking Company has a thick, crunchy, textured crust and a very salty and flavorful inside.  This is a big scone that is fun to eat in the same way ripping off pieces of French bread is.  More Clinton Street Desserts.

Perhaps I should not have included the tiny savory biscuit-like scone from Dovetail since it’s only available with their delicious brunch.  However, it left an impression on me so I felt it deserved a spot.  Chewy on the edges like a buttery chocolate chip cookie but 100% savory almost like a cornmeal grain, butter rich biscuit that’s been cooked on a griddle.  More from DessertBuzz 5-star Dovetail.

The savory bacon cheddar scone from Bouchon is a highly textured and flavorful creation worthy of the Bouchon name.  More like a small specialty bread, this scone is not at all crumbly or buttery.  Notes:  You must go early to get these as they can be dry if you get them in the afternoon.  Check with the staff if you go after 12:00 to see when it was baked.  Also for god sakes, get a pastry here if you go.

The  chocolate strawberry scone from Alice’s Tea Cup packs tons of delicious dark chocolate and fresh strawberries.  Their crust is thick and the inside reminds me of buttermilk pancakes with starwberries and chocolate.  They are the biggest scones and most filling in this feature.  Perfect for fueling up for a long walk around Central Park.  Notes: ask for a hot one. It simply DESTROYS!   More from Alice’s Tea Cup.

The chocolate scone from E.A.T. definitely has some croissant in its bloodlines.  Very buttery, light  and flaky (um, like the inside of a good croissant?).  This is the opposite of the dense Clinton St. or Alice’s Tea Cup scones.  Notes: The dark chocolate in this scone is simply outstanding.  More from E.A.T.

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The organic cranberry scone from Le Pain Quotidien is like a muffin but with an interesting glazed soft exterior that makes it stand out.  The tart cranberries and low sugar content also keep this from becoming too sweet. Notes: if you like your scones to be very distinctive from muffins you might not like this scone. More dessert from Le Pain Quotidien.

Forget the name of the scone I am going to describe here and just go buy one and enjoy it.  The vegan (yes vegan) chocolate chip scone from Whole Foods is really just a big thick less dense chocolate chip cookie that you can eat for breakfast.  It has coconut inside and some other great textures to go along with excellent dark chocolate chips and a crunchy crust, all for $1.79.  Notes: I said forget it’s vegan!  More Whole Foods here.

The currant scone from Bouley Bakery is a work of baking and culinary art. The cookie-like exterior is not buttery but is perfectly browned.  The inside is crumbly and not too sweet.  Like a less-sweet, less buttery slightly more dense shortbread cookie.  Notes: Try some other items while you are down there – almost everything is superb.

No review on New York City scones would be complete without the monster offering from the Levain Bakery.  A thin but crispy exterior layer and a super buttery smooth interior.  When hot, these scones are hard to beat in the more traditional category.  Notes: Monster size means you won’t need more food for hours.  Pair it with one of their world famous cookies and you could feed the entire Army Core of Engineers.  More Levain.

Honorable mention goes to the Street Sweets Truck oat currant scone.  Very textured, flavorful and extremely fresh, this is a perfect morning scone to go with your coffee.  Cake-like although not particularly scone-like in texture, you couldn’tt eat it as a stand alone dessert.  One to try if you can figure out where the truck is parked.  Try Midtown Lunch to see where their spot is.

Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookie

Posted by Niko on June 2nd, 2007

If you happen to be walking home late at night on the Upper West Side and if you also happen to have a bag of Levain Cookies with you and if you also happen to get mugged, you could easily knock someone unconscious with the bag. Is this a good thing? Yes.

Is this the best chocolate chip cookie in New York? Many think so. In terms of sheer butter-per-square-inch and pure heft the Levain cookie has no equal. But this is New York city, not a convenience store (yet).  We don’t meaure things by size alone. What about flavor, texture, chocolate quality?

While I am sure there are many small bakeries that have great chocolate chip cookies, there are really only three destination shops for the hard-core chocolate chip cookie lover: City Bakery, Jacques Torres and Levain Bakery. I am going to leave out Max Headroom for now.

The Levain cookie experience:

Compared to City Bakery or Jacques, the Levain cookies most resemble fresh, homemade Toll House cookies. On steroids. With twice the butter. When you visit, the staff will always ask you if you plan to eat the cookie right away and then offer you one hot out of the oven or from the cooling racks. This is the only way to sample one of their cookies and understand what the fuss is about.

The outside of the cookie is brown and slightly crisp, while the inside is (somehow) undercooked but not doughy. Bites from the outside of the cookie are distincly different from the interior. There is so much butter and chocolate flavor packed into this cookie that it appears to break the laws of physics. If you eat an entire cookie in one sitting, don’t plan on eating anything for a few hours. Or days.

The Levain cookies are superbly fresh and right out of the oven they will satisfy any chocolate chip cookie lover, but cold they are really no different than a Nestle Toll House from home. The Torres cookie for example uses sumptuous oversized discs of his famous dark chcolate, and they bake their cookies in a range, from very brown to undercooked, to satisfy a variety of customers’ tastes.

Visit Levain Bakery here.