Perfectly thick and chewy cookies packed full of chocolate chips in the style of New York City’s Levain Bakery.
Ok, so I haven’t actually had the Levain Bakery cookies that these are modeled after but no matter, a good chocolate chip cookie is a good chocolate chip cookie. And since I belong to the thick-and-chewy-cookie camp, any cookie that promises to be so is tempting.
Last week was sort of weird for reasons I’d rather not delve into, but suffice it to say I’m now suffering from occasional attacks of homesickness. For me, coping with homesickness means re-reading one of my favorite books and eating some sort of baked good comfort food that has chocolate in it.
This time to fill the favorite book void I selected Louisa May Alcott’s An Old-Fashioned Girl. It’s a book I’ve grown to love more and more as I’ve gotten older. I remember the first time I read it–I was in Ms. Bailey’s sixth grade language arts class, and we had to do an author project. Each student chose and author and had to read two of his or her books plus a biography. I chose Louisa May Alcott, because Little Women was already one of my favorite books.
After the project I then set aside An Old-Fashioned Girl for a while and picked it up again a few years later, having forgotten much of the story. I must have read it again and realized what a great book it is, as it’s now one of those books that I find inexplicably comforting. As I’ve been reading through it again, I’ve tried to figure out why I think it’s so fantastic. In my mind there is absolutely no reason why it should be less well-known than Little Women. The story follows Polly Milton, country girl, through her life and her relationship with her friend Fanny Shaw, sophisticated city girl. The themes are so timeless–city vs. country, struggles between social classes, how to be “cool.”
It’s also a fascinating look into American life in the 1860s. So often we get taught that the Victorians were all prim and proper and nothing else. Not so. Brothers and sisters (when left alone) had physical fights, girls went outside to play by themselves, little children had tantrums. They were a lot like we are. Of course, Louisa May Alcott is a wonderful writer as well. Though she didn’t want to write “stories for girls,” she excelled at it. Her clear, simple prose flows beautifully and can be quite humorous at times. She is very clearly the narrator, popping up now and then to say things like “Love scenes, if genuine, are indescribable.”
Which brings me to another point. I’m a sucker for happy endings, and few endings are happier than that of An Old-Fashioned Girl. Like any good 19th-century women’s novel, the heroines end up paired off with their perfect matches at the end. I won’t say anything further; that would just ruin the story! As much as I think the gender roles of the time were seriously problematic, there is no denying that that is how it was, so at least the heroines should be happy with their men if they’re going to be submissive to him for the rest of their days. Though I know who ends up with whom at the end of the story, the “reveal” always makes me smile. No, grin. Widely.
ANYWAY, cookies. Reading An Old-Fashioned Girl is like eating chocolate chip cookies. So freakin’ comforting and delicious. And just like with a good book, these cookies give you something to chew on.
Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Make about 32 – 2 1/2″ cookies or one dozen very large cookies
Slightly adapted from Chez Catey Lou
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup butter, cold, cut into cubes
- 3/4 cup + 4 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 T your favorite cream liqueur or milk (I used vanilla cookie flavored Sahnelikör)*
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used a combination of dark and semi-sweet)
- optional: 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
*Note: adding a little bit of milk to your chocolate chip cookie dough is just extra insurance that the cookies will be chewy.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, beat the cold butter cubes with a mixer until they become one mass again. Add in sugars, and beat to thoroughly combine. Add eggs, vanilla, and liqueur or milk, and beat again until fully incorporated. Beat in the flour mixture–I like to do two additions to lessen the chance of flour going everywhere. Mix in chocolate chips, by hand.
Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment.
Scoop large tablespoons of dough, roll each into a ball, and gently press to flatten. They will not spread very much, so what you see before putting them into the oven is basically what you get. For 2 1/2 inch cookies, bake for about 11 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown. Larger cookies may take up to 20 minutes to bake.