Scouting: Levain Bakery

  Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie by Levain Bakery  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie by Levain Bakery | Image: Laura Messersmith

I’m taking a food photography class this weekend - more on that next week! – and the first assignment is to “shoot a well composed photograph of either a single piece of fruit or a vegetable, or shoot a cup of tea and cookie, muffin, or accompanying sweet.”

Well, a vegetable or a piece of fruit is great and all, but I immediately saw that the best course of action was a trip Levain Bakery in search of a suitable, ahem “companion” to the subject of this masterpiece of photography. Conveniently, the bakery is right in our neighborhood, so swinging by for a cookie or a loaf of their wonderful bread is easy. Excellent.

  Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie by Levain Bakery   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie by Levain Bakery | Image: Laura Messersmith

When I went into the cozy little shop on Wednesday afternoon it was surprisingly empty – most days there’s a line of at least half a dozen people up the steep staircase and along the railing – so I took advantage of the opportunity to linger. Visiting Levain is like stepping into a warm cocoon of vanilla, baked bread, and sugar.

It’s a little ironic to me that the name of the bakery refers to the French word for bread leavening when it’s the cookies that seem to get all the attention. The four options: Chocolate Chip Walnut, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip. I was momentarily side-tracked by the Whole Grain Loaf and Chocolate Brioche before I re-focused on my true target; Levain’s bestselling cookie: Chocolate Chip Walnut.

  Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie by Levain Bakery   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie by Levain Bakery | Image: Laura Messersmith

These babies are substantial - New York Magazine calls them “scone-sized” - and with their rustic, irregular, domed exterior and dense chewy interior it’s a pretty apt description. Even with an appetite for cookies like mine I can never finish one in one sitting, not such a bad thing since it means enjoying it over a day or so.

The interior is just a little under-baked allowing the eater to enjoy the sweet stickiness of cookie dough stuffed full of semi-sweet chocolate chips and gently bitter acidic chopped walnuts.

  Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie by Levain Bakery   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie by Levain Bakery | Image: Laura Messersmith

As you can see the deliciousness of the cookie immediately upstaged the cup of coffee that was supposed to be the star, but that was probably to be expected. I present to you my four favorite shots, no filter, no retouching, no cropping. If this is learning food photography I may need more than one class….

Levain Bakery | UWS, Harlem, Hamptons | Hours Vary by Location