This is the story of two good friends and their shared love for great cookies.
“Cookies make people feel good. They bring you back to your childhood. I think our cookies are really nice because they’re big and they can be shared.”
“I think that food tastes better and is so much more fun when you’re sharing it, like especially with your best friend.”
“Hey I’m Pam. And I’m Connie. And welcome to Levain Bakery.”
Brand new to Boston’s Newbury Street, Levain Bakery is a New York institution famous for Co-Founders Pam Weekes and Connie MacDonald’s ooey-gooey, over-the-top, oversized cookies. In fact, just one bite, and you might think these are the best cookies you’ve ever eaten.
“Usually people’s reaction when they come in for the first time is disbelief, excitement, joy, surprised, that they’re actually as good as they might have heard they are.”
They’re so good, these lumpy bumpy beauties have developed a cult-like following.
“The level of pride that people take in coming to come into the bakery and showing their friends who don’t know. It’s pretty amazing.”
“I actually had a friend that was like super hyped about it, and then she was telling me that it was coming to Boston so I wanted to try it.”
“I’ve been to Levain before in New York. And I love it.”
“I wanted to see what the hype was. There was a line two blocks down.”
Believe it or not, Levain’s long road to cookie perfection actually began when Pam and Connie were training for a triathlon.
“We actually met in a pool on the East Side of Manhattan. And one of the things we’d like to make to eat after training was a chocolate chip walnut cookie that was very similar to what we sell today. So when we started the bakery, 26 years ago, we had our tiny little storefront on West 74th Street in Manhattan. We had no idea that we were going to grow but people say we’re 20 year overnight success.”
And success has never tasted so sweet.
“It’s still warm, super chocolatey.”
“They’re really delicious.”
“Excellent, they’re awesome.”
“We’re baking them all day long. So you’re always coming into this bakery filled with these wonderful smells of these cookies. And they’re usually like perfectly warm and the texture is amazing. I think that they satisfy so many things that people are looking for.”
When you come to Levain Bakery, be prepared to indulge. Because you’ll probably want to try every cookie they offer.
“Here at Levain Bakery we make five different types of cookies. We make chocolate chip walnut, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate, chocolate chip, dark chocolate peanut butter chip and then we have a chocolate chip walnut cookie made with gluten free ingredients.”
And these cookies are anything but bite sized.
“It’s a really big cookie. It’s almost a half a pound. So it has some hefty to it, it feels weighty, and when you break it open you can feel that and you can feel the warmth emanate from the cookie. It’s really nice.”
If you want to start with the cookie that started it all at Levain, that would be their Chocolate Chip Walnut.
“This is our famous chocolate chip walnut cookie. Fresh out of the oven. There it is deliciously melted semi sweet chocolate chips with the walnut and then the texture of the crunchy outside and nice gooey delicious inside. It’s so crunchy. And has sweet and savory at the same time. It’s delicious.”
For those who aren’t so nuts about nuts, try the Two Chip.
“The two chip is our answer to those people who wanted a chocolate chip cookie without walnuts. It’s a combination of two different types of chocolate.”
“Crunchy on the outside and a little warm and gooey inside. A little bit cakey, a little but cookie, it satisfies a lot of different cravings all at once.”
If you’re a fan of the classics, the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie is everything you’re looking for stuffed with the good stuff.
“A really good oatmeal raisin cookie has a lot of oats and a lot of raisins. I tend to always select a chocolate cookie usually. But on the rare occasions when I have the oatmeal raisin I always think I should have this more often. That’s one of the best oatmeal raisin cookies.”
Chocoholics will get their fix when they order the Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip.
“It’s definitely for somebody who loves chocolate you’ve got the chips, and you’ve got a dark chocolate cocoa powder and it’s really heavenly.”
“This is our dark chocolate chocolate chip cookie. Right out of the oven. And you can see the picture speaks louder than any words I could ever say.”
Another combination that might leave you speechless, or at least longing for a glass of cold milk, is the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip.
“This is a dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookie. And you can see the peanut butter chips here. You get the richness of the chocolate and the sweetness of the cookie with a little bit of the saltiness of the peanut butter. And when you break this open, you can see the creaminess of the peanut butter chips, and that dark gooey chocolate inside. How can you not want to take a bite of that. Mmmm. That’s delicious.”
Since man cannot live on cookies alone, Levain — which is the French word for the natural leavening agent used in breads, also offers fresh-baked breads, like this slow fermented Country Boule and a sweet buttery brioche stuffed with chocolate chips, or slathered with cinnamon.
Plus, there are muffins packed with blueberries. Sour Cream Coffee Cake and as an homage to New England, the Boston shop exclusively offers a Cranberry Scone.
“Our scones are really good and the one that we’re making for Boston is with fresh local cranberries, and it’s really delicious.”
And for these two good friends turned great bakers, the success of the cookies is sweet.
But nothing is sweeter than building this business together.
“It’s good to have somebody there to, you know, be your cheerleader, and you can be there to be their cheerleader.”
“I’m most proud of that we’re still after 26 years of being in business together. We’re still best friends. Because as we say it wouldn’t be much of a success story if we weren’t. And so it’s been amazing.”