Super Thick Levain-Style Chocolate Chip Cookie from Stella Parks

Chocolate chip cookies will never go out of style, and there’s always a new recipe claiming to be the best or the Last Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You’ll Ever Need. And honestly, I prefer a more egalitarian approach – it’s all going to boil down to what you’re in the mood for. And this time, I was in the mood for a big honking ooey-gooey Levain-style chocolate chip cookie.

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And this was definitely a honkingly huge cookie from Stella Parks of Serious Eats. Each cookie weighed 6 ounces. I don’t even want to think about how many calories it contains. But by God was it delicious. The original Levain cookie contains walnuts, as does this recipe. And there have been competitors like Chip NYC and Gooey on the Inside that also do the barely-baked-hunk-of-dough thing, but their chocolate chip cookies do NOT have walnuts and I think it makes a significant difference to the textural and flavor complexity of the cookie.

Stella Parks’ recipes are always detailed, and they’re not only prescriptive but also informative. She explains that a pinch of nutmeg makes butter taste more buttery, and also recommends using different sizes and darkness of chocolate chips to add interest. I don’t usually keep chocolate chips at home because I prefer to chop up a high quality bar of semisweet, but Stella explains that this massive cookie needs the structural stability that commercial chocolate chips would provide.

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The original recipe indicated a 22 minute bake time at 350 F, and I thought that was a little too gooey for me, as pictured below. The cookie was falling apart in my hand, but it was still super delicious. I’d probably bake it to 25 minutes next time though. I love the crisp edges and the gooey and toasty interior. I made a half recipe (which yielded 4 cookies), and didn’t have any issues with simply halving everything. These cookies do require an overnight rest period, but I promise it’s worth it.

Super Thick Levain-Style Chocolate Chip Cookie from Stella Parks
Makes 8 large shareable cookies
From Serious Eats

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsalted American butter (about 1/2 cup; 113g), softened to about 65°F (18°C)
  • 4 ounces light brown sugar (about 1/2 cup, firmly packed; 113g)
  • 3 1/2 ounces white sugar, preferably well toasted (about 1/2 cup; 100g)
  • 1/2 ounce vanilla extract (about 1 tablespoon; 15g)
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight (plus more for sprinkling, if desired)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs (about 3 1/2 ounces; 100g), straight from the fridge
  • 10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups, spooned; 283g), such as Gold Medal
  • 15 ounces assorted chocolate chips (about 2 1/2 cups; 425g), not chopped chocolate; see note
  • 8 1/2 ounces raw walnut pieces or lightly toasted pecan pieces (shy 1 3/4 cups; 240g)
  1. To Prepare the Dough: Combine butter, light brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla extract, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  2. Mix on low to moisten, then increase speed to medium and beat until soft, fluffy, and pale, about 8 minutes; halfway through, pause to scrape bowl and beater with a flexible spatula. With mixer running, add eggs one at a time, letting each incorporate fully before adding the next. Reduce speed to low, then add the flour all at once. When flour is incorporated, add chocolate chips and nuts and keep mixing until dough is homogeneous.
  3. Divide dough into 8 equal portions (about 6 ounces/170g each) and round each into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 12 hours before baking; if well protected from air, the dough can be kept in the fridge up to 1 week.
  4. To Bake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Line an aluminum half-sheet pan with parchment paper. When the oven comes to temperature, arrange up to 4 portions of cold dough on prepared pan, leaving ample space between them to account for spread. If you like, sprinkle with additional salt to taste.
  5. Bake until cookies are puffed and lightly brown, about 22 minutes or to an internal temperature of between 175 and 185°F (79 and 85°C). The ideal temperature will vary from person to person; future rounds can be baked more or less to achieve desired consistency.
  6. Cool cookies directly on baking sheet until no warmer than 100°F (38°C) before serving. Enjoy warm, or within 12 hours; these cookies taste best when freshly baked.

Banana Zucchini Bread with Chocolate and Walnuts

The end of summer is one of the best times to eat seasonally, as plenty of produce are in abundance. While I enjoy sweet juicy summer fruits like peaches and berries on its own, zucchini, a summer squash, needs a little transformation to truly be palatable. My favorite way of consuming zucchini is in the form of a quick bread, like I’ve done before.

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Then 19-cent Trader Joe’s bananas beckoned to me and I thought… how about a banana zucchini bread?! Banana bread is awesome. Zucchini bread is awesome. They should be married together in a happy bread combination!

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I knew I wanted chocolate in my bread, because sweets don’t spell “dessert” to me unless there’s chocolate in it. I started off by looking at banana zucchini bread recipes, and after comparing a few, I used this Allrecipes recipe as a base and made some tweaks. I halved the recipe because I don’t want to be eating banana zucchini bread for days. I also used less sugar, knowing that the banana and the chocolate will add a bit of sweetness. I used less flour as I wanted the bread to be more chunky from half-mashed banana pieces and chocolate bits, and added more zucchini so the bread would be moister.

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And it was perfect. The muffins have a delectably browned muffin top, and the inside is studded with mashed banana, chocolate chunks, and walnut pieces. It’s not quite as sweet as a typical banana bread, yet is still very moist. I love the textural contrast that this moist yet densely packed muffin provides. At 204 calories apiece, I think I’ll allow myself a few more.

Banana Zucchini Bread with Chocolate and Walnuts
Adapted from Allrecipes
Makes 12 muffins or 1 8×4 loaf pan

1 1/2 (73g) large eggs
6 tbsps vegetable oil
1/3 cup (67g) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (45g) white sugar
1 cup grated zucchini
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (180g)  sieved all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (34g) dark chocolate (optional, can be swapped out for raisins, cranberries, etc.)
1/4 cup (30g) chopped walnuts (optional, can be swapped out for pecans)
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. If making a loaf, grease and flour one 8×4 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until light yellow and frothy. Add oil, brown sugar, white sugar, grated zucchini, bananas, and vanilla; blend together until well combined. Stir in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the chocolate and nuts. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes for muffins, or 50 minutes for a loaf. Allow to cool in the muffin cups or loaf pan on a wire rack before removing and serving.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I don’t make carrot cakes very often, but when I do, I grate the hell out of a carrot and make sure it’s one moist cake. I happened to have a carrot lying around, and although I usually roast my carrots, I wanted to have my veggies in a slightly more delicious form: coupled with more carbs and fat. Carbs and fat makes anything taste better.

This cake, apart from the tedious grating of carrot, is really easy to make. I really like oil-based cake because it means I don’t have to cream butter and sugar. Everything’s just a simple swirl and mix with a silicone spatula. It’s really moist and I think this is a great base recipe. I used extra virgin olive oil because that’s all I had around, and I also omitted the ginger and nutmeg spices that the original recipe had. It still turned out pretty good, though. I still have trouble frosting a cake perfectly, but here’s what I think would help: freeze the cake, and chill the frosting for long enough so that everything stays firm.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 1 two-layer 9-inch cake

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil (I used EVOO with no problems)
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour two 9 inch round pans.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and bake the layers for about 40 minutes each, or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Cool cakes completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting
From AllRecipes

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Strawberry Toast + Oatnut Bread

It’s summertime, and berries are at their peak. Sweet, succulent and juicy, strawberries are a fantastic way to cool you down and satisfy your sweet tooth. I was grocery shopping, and I was lured by the strong scent of the strawberries. Nothing beats the smell of ripe strawberries; which incidentally, taste nothing like strawberry-flavored candy. Growing up, berries weren’t something I ate with any frequency because they don’t do well in tropical Singapore. I was probably quite surprised when I had my first strawberry, wincing at its tartness and its complete departure from strawberry-flavored things.

I came up with the idea for this meal by cobbling together what I had in my fridge: strawberries that needed to be eaten, a large tub of Greek yogurt, and oatnut bread that I made a couple of days ago. You could use whipped cream cheese or whipped cream on your toast, but Greek yogurt offers the same creaminess and tang with much less fat and a lot more protein. This dish is basically a healthier version of the strawberry shortcake.

This bread was made with white whole wheat flour, oats, and walnuts. It’s a firm and hearty loaf that will stand up to spreads and drippy fillings, so it would be good for a sandwich. The original recipe called said vital wheat gluten was optional, but I didn’t have it. Whole wheat flour can be a little tricky in yeast breads, but don’t be discouraged. It might not taste or feel like the soft, fluffy prepackaged loaves you get in the supermarket, but it also doesn’t have a ton of unpronounceable additives.


Strawberry Toast

Makes a slice

1 slice of bread
2 strawberries, sliced
1 tbsp of Greek yogurt

Toast bread, if desired. Spread Greek yogurt on bread. Layer strawberries. Eat!

Oatnut White Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from Baking Bites
Makes 1 9×5 loaf

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water (100-110F), divided
3-4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats (whole rolled oats, chopped)
1 tbsp vital wheat gluten (optional)
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the yeast (about 1/4 oz.) and 1/4 cup warm water. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy.
Stir in remaining water, 1 cup of flour, the oats, vital wheat gluten (if using) and honey, and mix well. Add in salt, pecans and an additional 1 1/2 – 2 cups flour. Stir, adding remaining flour gradually, until the dough comes together into a ball a begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl (this can also be done in an electric mixer with the dough hook attached).
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead, adding flour a tablespoon at a time as necessary to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
After dough has risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface again. Gently deflate dough into a rectangular shape. Fold up the two long sides of the rectangle and pinch the seam together. Place seam-side down into prepared loaf pan. Again cover the bread with a piece of plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
While the bread is going through its final rise, preheat oven to 375F.
Bake loaf for 35 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bottom reads about 200F.
Cool loaf outside of pan on a wire rack completely before slicing.

Notes: I ended up using about 2.5 cups of flour total.

Banana-Oat Walnut Bread

Despite this being called a dessert blog, I don’t make dessert all the time. I might want dessert all the time, but I simply don’t have enough calories allotted to eat everything I want. So, I improvise. I fulfill my desire to create by adding a chock-full of healthy ingredients into what could otherwise be dessert masquerading as healthy food. This, is actually good for you. Bananas, bran, oatmeal and walnuts. No better way to put your digestive system to work.

Of course, the downside to using no fat and less sugar is that you get something that tastes like health food. I probably tweaked the recipe a little too much, but I’m going to reproduce the original so you know what to do.

Banana-Oat Walnut Bread
Makes one 9×5 loaf
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup white sugar (I used 1/3 cup)
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I omitted this)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup bran)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Spray a bread pan with non-stick cooking spray, and lightly dust with flour.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in bananas, applesauce, milk, oil and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture, mixing just until blended. Fold in walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake in preheated pan until golden and a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Turn bread out onto a wire rack and let cool.