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These thick, dense, and chewy copycat Levain Bakery Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies are absolutely loaded with the fantastic flavor combo of peanut butter and chocolate. They are definitely shareable, though be warned that you won't want to.
On West 74th Street in New York City, there is a bakery that has risen to fame among cookie connoisseurs for it's thick, almost scone-like cookies that are about 6 ounces each. That's almost ½ a pound per cookie! If you are planning a visit to the city, Levain Bakery should be on your foodie bucketlist, along with Magnolia Bakery (be sure to try their famous Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding), Milk Bar, Maman, and Jacques Torres Chocolate.
I LOVE Levain-style cookies that are thick and underdone so they are firm on the outside and gooey in the center. I have also shared their Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies on here because we just cannot get enough of them. Skip the line and the trip to NYC and make a batch of these dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookies today!
Why This Recipe Works
- These are more than just oversized giant cookies. They have a thickness and textural element because of the method that sets them apart from other cookies.
- Creaming COLD butter for a long time softens it without running the risk of it being too soft, which can lead to greasy cookies.
- Adding a combination of regular all-purpose flour and cake flour is one of the tricks Levain Bakery has specifically stated they use to achieve the tender, deliciously thick and almost scone-like texture of their cookies.
- They are intentionally underbaked to stay soft and chewy for days. Baking at a higher heat than typical helps bake the outside a bit faster, but there is also a residual baking effect where the cookies continue to set up after removing them from the oven.
- Dark cocoa powder: There are many brands out there, but my favorites are Hershey's Special Dark or Rodelle. Guittard also makes a good dutch process cocoa powder, but it's a little more on the red side and doesn't give results that are quite as close to the original Levain Bakery version of these chocolate peanut butter chip cookies.
- Peanut butter chips: I always have a few bags of Reese's peanut butter chips (the best!) in the pantry. I have found that one whole bag typically doesn't seem like quite enough, but two full bags is too much peanut butter so I can't taste the chocolate as much. One and a half bags is my sweet spot at right around 2 ½ cups of peanut butter chips.
- Cornstarch: This is a common secret-ingredient for soft, thick cookies. It's also a common replacement for cake flour. In fact, if you don't have cake flour on hand, you can still make this recipe by increasing the amount of cornstarch and using additional all-purpose flour (see notes).
- Flour: Speaking of flour, it's the combination of all-purpose flour and cake flour that gives these cookies their signature texture. Cake flour has a lower protein content and is typically used in recipes where you want a light and fluffy baked good, like cakes or biscuits. A good replacement is to replace 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour in a 1 cup measuring cup with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to get a cup of cake flour substitute.
How to Make this Recipe
Start by making sure your oven is preheated really well. Since these cookies bake at a slightly higher temperature, it's important to give your oven plenty of time to heat up. Also, go ahead and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
When you are ready to make the cookies, cream the COLD butter and sugars together in a large bowl. A stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment is super helpful here before that cold butter will give the machine quite a beating. But after 3-4 minutes, the butter and sugar will combine to be creamy and light.
Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again. I know that the original Levain Bakery doesn't use vanilla extract in their cookies, but I feel like it adds more flavor notes and depth to the cookies so I include it in my recipe. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl so everything gets mixed together evenly.
Add the all-purpose flour, cake flour, dark cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until combined, then stir in the peanut butter chips. The cookie dough will be thick.
When placing the balls of cookie dough on the baking sheet, it's better to leaving them sort of rough looking rather than rolling them into perfectly round balls. This gives them more of a craggy, rustic appearance that also results in better texture on the outside of the cookie.
You can weigh the cookies to make sure they are 6 ounces each, or just evenly divide the dough into 8 large mounds. Space them apart so there is room for them to spread as they bake on the cookie sheets. I don't like to do more than 4 cookies per sheet.
Bake for 9-11 minutes. You don't want to overbake these cookies or they will be dry and hard. The key is to look at the cookies and see whether they look set up around the edges and have lost the glossy sheen on top. They are intentionally underbaked and will continue to set up after they are removed from the oven.
Leave the cookies on the hot baking sheets to cool for at least 10-15 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack. The cookies should cool for at least 20-30 minutes before breaking them open to eat them.
If you don't have dark cocoa powder on hand, you can still make these cookies without changing the other ingredients. The cookies just won't have quite the same flavor or color as the ones you see here (but will still be plenty chocolatey and delicious!).
Yes, you can make them half-size, but you will want to chill the dough to get the same thickness of the larger cookies. There are more details in the recipe notes.
- Don't crowd the pan: These are really big cookies, so it's best to only cook 4 cookies per pan so they have room to spread without baking into each other.
- Wait at least 30 minutes before eating them after they come out of the oven! Seriously, it's important as the cookies need time to set up. If you break one open right away, it will practically fall apart. The texture changes quite a bit in those 30 minutes of resting and cooling time, and the chips will still be warm and melty.
- Use this recipe as a base for other mix-ins: This chocolate cookie base is a fantastic jumping off point for adding other chips besides the peanut butter ones. We have also made these with the green mint Ghiradelli chips and they were fantastic! Regular semisweet chocolate chips, Butterfinger or toffee bits, or white chocolate chips would all be excellent in these cookies.
More Cookie Recipes
- Soft Banana Pudding Cookies
- Toffee Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Frosted Fruity Pebbles Cookies
Levain Copycat Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
- 1 cup cold salted butter, cubed (227g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar (100g)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (187g)
- 1 cup cake flour (118g)
- ½ cup dark cocoa powder (50g)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ cups Reese's peanut butter chips
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar for 3-4 minutes on medium-high speed until light. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add both types of flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low speed just until combined. Stir in peanut butter chips.
- Divide the dough into 8 evenly-sized large balls and space them evenly on the baking sheets so they have room to spread while baking.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes until the cookies look set around the edges and dry on top. If they still look shiny, they probably need another minute, but don't overbake.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for at least 15 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Mini-version: These cookies are enormous, so if you prefer more of a standard-size cookie you can make 16 (still generous) cookies that are about 3 to 3.5-ounces each. But in order to get them to bake the same and turn out thick, you will need to divide out the cookie dough and place them on the baking sheet, then refrigerate for AT LEAST 30 minutes before baking. Letting them chill first helps the dough set up and lowers the temperature of the dough so they don't spread as quickly or as much during baking.
- Cake flour substitute: If you don't have cake flour, you can increase the cornstarch to 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon and increase the regular all-purpose flour to 2 ⅓ cups.
- Variations: Try substituting the peanut butter chips for Ghiradelli mint chips, toffee or Butterfinger bits, caramel bits, white chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips, or any combination of the above!
- Storage: These will be good for 4-5 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. Thaw before enjoying. I recommend warming them in the microwave for a few seconds so they taste fresh and warm!
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