Food as Science

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

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The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie: A Review of Levain Bakery

ARTICLE BY EMMA GUIDA, PHOTOGRAPHY BY EMILY DALY | THE SCIENCE ISSUE 2015

If you haven’t visited Levain Bakery yet, Emma’s review will make you want to rush over and order a dozen of these massive cookies. What a better way to start the new year than with the perfect chocolate chip cookie? 

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If you ask someone about the best chocolate chip cookie they’ve ever had, they might answer with their mother’s homemade recipe, the New York Times’ recipe with chocolate fèves, or even the cookie cake they had for their 10th birthday party. If you ask a Columbia student, however, there’s a good chance they would say it’s Levain Bakery’s chocolate chip walnut cookie.

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The Levain cookie has achieved a legendary status among New Yorkers. The bakery was founded in 1994 on the Upper West Side and has since expanded to locations in Harlem and East Hampton. Fortunately, both New York City locations are extremely accessible to Columbia students either by a 10-15 minute walk from campus or a few stops away on the 1 train. Walking into Levain is a warm comforting experience, with a friendly staff to help you choose between all wonderful creations: chocolate chip walnut cookie, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate chip, and dark chocolate peanut butter chip.

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So what makes the Levain cookie better than your mom’s cookie, aside from being as big as a hamburger? The cookies are plump, with just the right amount of chips breaking their golden brown surface. They look more like a scone than a break-and-bake cookie, but without the dryness or crumbs. The soft, slightly under-baked core – a warm, chocolate experience that will make your life happier – is complemented by just the right amount of outer crunchiness.

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Producing a cookie this delicately balanced, and especially producing it consistently, is definitely not easy. Whether through precise scientific processes or impeccable ingredients, Levain Bakery has somehow perfected their recipe into a magical formula.

 Levain Bakery is located on 167 West 74th St. and 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd. For more information, visit http://www.levainbakery.com.

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