nyc: littles and levain cookies

Babies are the new black.

At least in our personal 30-something reality, that certainly seems to be the case.

This past year has allowed us to witness so many of our nearest and dearest friends embark on the journey of parenthood, some through unbelievable trial and others through incomprehensible ease. Every story and journey has been different, but the resulting children are the main reason why New York was always going to be in the cards for us this year.

You see, some of the best people on the planet live in New York or in its surrounding reaches, and the vast majority of them became parents to littles within the last year.

We have made countless pilgrimages to New York to see these fine individuals, whether by Megabus from DC or by plane from Denver. Without fail, each visit is defined by an onslaught of new discoveries — new boroughs to explore, new foods to try, and new art to consume.

Some of our most memorable life experiences have taken place in this big, busy, beautiful city alongside these amazing friends.

Our most recent visit, however, was a deviation from the norm. Sure, we still explored new boroughs [like Brooklyn’s Prospect-Lefferts Gardens], tried food we had never tasted before [such as truly authentic Thai cuisine and our very first sushi burritos], and even consumed one of the finest live theater performances in recent memory [via the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Carmen  — our first Met Opera experience and a major life bucket list check].

But despite all of these firsts and the friends that accompanied them, the majority of our time in New York was actually spent snuggling babies.

First there was Ari, an adorable and amiable 7-month old, whose super cool parents still offered to host us despite having a baby in the apartment. We learned very quickly that was because Ari is a pro at all of the important things in life: sleeping, smiling, and self-entertaining. Which allowed us to enjoy an abundance of quality time with his incredible parents and lots of play time with the little mister himself. Our favorite moments with him included early morning musings in the saucer, rambling walks through Prospect Park with his favorite pal Bowery, and soporific car rides into Manhattan.

Then there was Gabriel, a baby we have been dying to meet for years given his parents’ long and inspiring journey to parenthood. This handsome young man turned one during our visit, and we were fortunate enough to be able to join in the birthday festivities. Together with a gaggle of some of our very favorite VIPs, we explored the fascinating Oculus, picnicked in Battery Park, and even embarked on Gabriel’s first boat ride on the Staten Island Ferry. [This was also a big deal for us because it was Jason’s first time ever laying eyes on the Statue of Liberty.] Our favorite moments with Gabriel included dancing in the ferry terminal, witnessing the lengths his dads would go to try to make him laugh for a photo, and feeling the insurmountable outpouring of love and support surrounding him at all times – not only his parents, but all of the friends and family who love him like their own.

Finally, there was newborn Noelle. Seven-weeks old and rocking a wardrobe far cooler than anything I have ever owned, this is little diva is the definition of a Manhattan lady: undeterred by wailing sirens, happiest when being pushed down 42nd in her bassinet, and a lover of all things music. Our favorite moments with her involved holding her for the first time at Gotham West Market and mesmerizing her with light fixtures, singing her to sleep in her little Noelle nook, laughing at her silly faces and surprising bodily functions, and watching her mom — one of my very best friends — talk about and embody all things motherhood.

Oh, and let’s not forget that we also had the chance to meet up with little miss San Antonio Moira, who was experiencing her first taste of the Big Apple with her mom, Bekah. Yet another highlight of our trip was watching Moira tackle head-on the joys of ice skating with reckless abandon in the middle of Chelsea. It’s hard to describe her prolific vocabulary, her unrelenting zest for life, and her cheetah-fast smarts without having to constantly clarify that she is also only going on 3. To say this little is one of our favorite human beings is an understatement, and we were so thrilled to get the chance to see her during her first New York visit.

So yes, I would say our time in New York was quite different than years past. Gone are the late-night bingers in Hell’s Kitchen. Gone are the speakeasy evenings and pudding pit stops. Gone are the non-stop days of venturing to each neighborhood just to find the “best” food in the city, whether that be pizza or soup dumplings or gelato.

But if you ask us, all of these new and exciting New York experiences are being replaced by something much more valuable and important: new life.

And now we can’t wait for the next visit to watch those new little lives of New York grow.


Double Chocolate Levain Cookies

Outside of New York’s uh-mazing pizza, Levain Cookies are one thing we always look forward to indulging in every time we visit. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to a Levain Bakery during this trip, so we decided to simply make a copycat version of our own. We have found that the keys to success in achieving their signature ginormous fluffiness are four-fold: cold butter, cake flour, cornstarch, and cooling the dough prior to baking.

levain-cookies1

Ingredients
  • 1 c. [2 sticks] unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 1 c. light brown sugar
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c. cocoa powder
  • 1 c. cake flour
  • 1½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1½ c. semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Using a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars on high speed until butter softens and the mixture is light and fluffy [3-4 minutes]. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  2. In a separate medium sized bowl, combine cocoa, flours, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer set on the lowest speed, slowly add in flour mixture in about 4 additions and stir until dough is just combined. It will be stiff and uniform but should not be over-mixed. With your hands, knead the dough to incorporate any remaining flour at the bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate chips and knead until well distributed.
  3. Divide dough into 8 or 9 balls [about 4.5 ounces each] and place in the freezer to chill for at least 15 minutes. While cooling, preheat oven to 410 F.
  4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and place four dough balls on each sheet, about 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 10-11 minutes until surface looks dry. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 15-20 minutes so they can set. Remove and enjoy!

levain-cookies3

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