Secret Recipe Club, Secret Recipe Club, Secret Recipe Club! Yes it’s that time again, reveal day! I absolutely adore participating in The Secret Recipe Club and because of it I have found some great cooking blogs and made some wonderful new recipes like Home Style Chicken Curry, Holy Guacamole, Cilantro Lime Chicken, Nutella Crêpes and Welsh Cakes. Each month when I receive my blog assignment from Amanda I’m excited but this month I was wicked excited with my assignment as I got Amber’s Bluebonnets & Brownies. I have been following Amber’s blog for what seems like ages and though I’ve never met her I feel like I know her through her writing and I love that we seem to have quite a bit in common. First off the obvious, we both love to cook both savory and sweet foods. Next, we’re both married to Brits, we both seem to have quite the addiction to our Keurig machines and we both seem to have some issues when it comes to pastry dough. Though we have much in common, our lives are opposite in that Amber is a Texan now living up north and I’m a New Englander now living in the south but I bet if we were to meet in the middle we would have fun cooking together and would be great friends.
As I said, I have been reading Amber’s blog for ages and I have so many of her recipes bookmarked it’s just crazy. I don’t know why I haven’t made any of her dishes yet but as I’ve been assigned her blog I had no excuse and it was time to choose a recipe… and trust me it wasn’t easy. If you haven’t visited Amber’s blog you need to take a look as she has quite the collection of Tex-Mex, Southern, and Midwestern recipes, the foods of her youth and all delicious sounding. For me it was a tough decision in choosing just one recipe to make and highlight as my bookmarked list all seemed to be calling “make me!, make me!.” Here are some of the wonderful looking and sounding recipes I have on my “to make” list: Maple Sugar Bacon, Cheddar and Rosemary Scones which my bacon loving Maisie would just adore, then there’s her Rudy’s Creamed Corn recipe which just sounds amazingly wonderful but I fear that I would eat the entire batch so I’m saving this one for when I need to feed a crowd. Here’s a little secret about me, I can eat sour cream by the spoonful as I adore the stuff and cinnamon is a favorite flavor for me so her Sour Cream Cinnamon Muffins are also on my “need to make” list. She has a recipe for Nutella Cashew Brownies which sound decadent and wonderful as does her Pumpkin French Toast which would be perfect this time of year. I of course love making my Blacksmith Pizzas and I have been eyeing her Quick Beer Pizza Crust since she first posted it. One recipe which I am going to make very soon is her Apple Rhubarb Chutney as I have some rhubarb tucked away in the freezer for this one. As I said, she has some awesome recipes on her site.
In the end I decided on Amber’s Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies. Amber adapted her recipe from another favorite blog site of mine, Lisa’s Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives and her Levain Bakery Copycat Cookie Recipe. I have seen and heard so many wonderful things about the original cookies from both friends who have had them straight from the Levain Bakery and from various shows on the food channels so I have been wanting to make these for some time…So It was decided.
Oh what can I say… These cookies were obscenely delicious, they had great height at just over an inch and the texture was wonderful. The outside had a nice crispiness while the inside wasn’t quite 100% cooked so it was a bit gooey with a caramel-molasses flavor from all the brown sugar and then there was a creaminess from the chocolate chips, especially the milk chocolate chips and the added crunch of the toasted walnuts. Oh.my.word these cookies were wonderfully divine and I though I’ve never had the original all I can think is, the original may be bigger but I can’t imagine that they could be any better in taste or texture than these.
I had planned to make these cookies before we went away on our recent cruise. I read through both Amber and Lisa’s posts and made some tiny changes to both of their recipes and mixed up a wonderful batter. Then following Amber’s recipe I put the dough in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I ended up being crazy busy between Maisie’s activities and preparing all the food, breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the desserts for the visiting & home Coaches as well as the Judges for the gymnastics meet at Maisie’s gym, well… I just ran out of time. So there the dough sat…covered in the fridge…while I went off for a week of cruising, all the while thinking about and hoping that the dough would still be good and work when I returned home.
Once home I taste tested the cold dough numerous times, in fact so many times that I probably could have gotten another cookie or two from the recipe but I wanted to make sure that all was safe. Since I didn’t die from all my quality control taste testing I decided that the dough was still good and safe for human consumption so I proceeded with making the cookies. I couldn’t scoop the cold-from-the-fridge cookie dough so after reading all the additional notations on Lisa’s post, I allowed the dough to come up to room temperature so that I could easily scoop it, then I formed my scoops and popped them into the freezer for an hour before baking. Freezing the dough seemed to work really well and now I know that I can whip up a batch of this dough, portion it out, freeze the scoops and when the craving for a hot and delicious cookie strikes I can pull little balls of goodness from the freezer and in 15 minutes I can be enjoying the best Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies ever!
Frozen scoops of dough ready for the oven.
The real Levain Bakery cookies are very large but I decided to use my large cookie scoop which holds three Tablespoons of batter. These cookies are delicious but very rich so this size cookie was perfect for us. I ended up getting 25 cookies but as I said, had I not “quality control taste tested” the batter so many times I probably would have gotten another one or two cookies.
The cookies baked up beautifully and there was very little spread so the cookies kept good height.
Check out the gooey centers and the soft smooth melted chocolate. This recipe is a keeper and I can’t wait to try it again with some nut and chocolate variations.
Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies (Adapted from here and here)
1 cup chilled butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large cold eggs
2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 TBS corn starch
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
Put the white, light & dark brown sugars into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until combined. Add the cold cubed butter and continue to mix at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Continue mixing until well incorporated. Add the all purpose flour, cake flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and corn starch and blend until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts by hand.
At this point you can either continue making the cookies or if you’re like me, cover the dough and leave in the fridge for a week while you go on a cruise where you think and dream about the awesome cookies you’re going to finally make upon your return home. If you do refrigerate the dough you’ll need to let it warm up some so that it can be scooped.
Using a large cookie scoop form the dough into nice scoops and place the scoops of dough on a parchment lined pan so that they are close together but not touching. Place the tray of dough scoops in the freezer for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 375F. Distribute the frozen dough scoops, six to a pan, onto baking sheets lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Bake approximately 14-15 minutes. The cookies should be removed from the oven when they look slightly underdone as they will continue to cook as they cool. Depending on how much dough you taste test, the recipe makes approximately 26 cookies.