Authentic Eats, Long Island Streets: Levain’s World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The phrase goes, “as American as apple pie,” but it must be said, the chocolate chip cookie has come in hard and fast to make the idiom arguable. Invented in the 1930s by Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts and popularized by World War II soldiers longing for a taste of home, the classic recipe now has more variations than granules of sugar in each batch.

Preferences are personal—crisp crust or melty edges? Chewy, half-raw centers or crumbles that fall into your lap to be saved for later? Butter or margarine? To add nuts or oats or sub semi-sweet? How big should each drop of dough be, or each ball if that’s your style?

These questions give rise to endless customization of an essentially perfect cookie, so it’s truly a mark of excellence that people clamor for Levain Bakery’s six-ounce chocolate chip walnut cookie.

Dubbed by The New York Times as what “may possibly be the largest, most divine chocolate chip cookies in Manhattan,” these behemoth cookies have a following that has created global demand. It made this bakery famous, a mecca for chocolate chip cookie lovers and tourists who go out of their way to find these legendary treats.

Semi-sweet chocolate is the variant of choice here, and big chunks of walnuts are evenly dispersed throughout. They’re thick, so the center is moist and chewy, but somehow also manage to satisfy those looking for that satisfying crunch when breaking the outer shell into the gooey layers below. Of a similar size, shape and heft of a generous Irish scone, the outer crust is much the same texturally, which makes it even more eye-poppingly pleasurable that — behold! — it’s cookie dough in the middle.

Levain’s other variations, such as the oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate chocolate chip and dark chocolate peanut butter chip, have also gained acclaim, but the cult following is behind the classic.

From now until Labor Day, these cookies can be a daily treat. The bakery is open Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m to 5 p.m., which means Long Islanders have a few weeks yet to stock up. After Labor Day, they begin to wean us off; their hours shift to weekends only before closing for the rest of the year on Columbus Day.

It can be quite a trek and a hassle to get these cookies at the bakery’s Upper West Side store. However, 15 years ago, Levain decided to make it easier for summering Manhattanites to get their real-deal signature dessert by opening an outpost in Wainscott. Their second location, although originally established for their New York City clientele, became a boon for Long Islanders who otherwise may not have ever had made the trek to try this nearly half-pound cookie.

Granted, many bakeries out east and into the island have made their own versions in this cookie’s weight class. White Post Farms in Melville and Briermere Farms in Riverhead give it a run for its money. However, this column is called Authentic Eats, Long Island Streets, and credit must be given where it’s due—you can’t get more authentic than an outpost of the original!

From now until Labor Day, these cookies can be a daily treat. The bakery is open Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m to 5 p.m., which means Long Islanders have a few weeks yet to stock up. After Labor Day, they begin to wean us off; their hours shift to weekends only before closing for the rest of the year on Columbus Day.

So save yourself garage parking fees or a train ticket. Head out east and get your cookies while they’re hot!

For the full list of Su-Jit’s authentic eats, click here.

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