When it comes to the biggest food trends of the past year, we’d say over-the-top cookies are right up there with unconventional charcuterie boards and boozy kombucha. And if you’re well-versed in the world of sweets, you know that Levain Bakery, an iconic NYC bread shop-turned-dessert haven, has been slinging small-batch, softball-sized cookies since 1995, long before it was hip. Their confections have become so deeply engrained in the Manhattan zeitgeist that we’d argue no real New Yorker hasn’t had the pleasure of eating one.
Of their five flavors, the chocolate chip walnut is no doubt the most iconic (although we have big love for the brownie-like dark chocolate-chocolate chip). Impossibly gooey, tantalizingly thick and studded with crunchy nuts and molten semi-sweet chocolate, their trademark treat remains the shop’s best seller. The only downside? Only those in the tristate area (plus a few lucky Bostonians, Marylanders and DC residents) have access to Levain’s ten bakeries. Thankfully, you can order them to be shipped to your door, or buy them frozen at a local Whole Foods Market if you’re not in the area. But how do these alternatives compare to the O.G.? We investigated with a painstakingly official taste test, for science.