Over the years, I’ve baked countless versions of the classic Toll House cookie. So when I noticed that Instagram and even the New York Times were abuzz over Sarah Kieffer’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from her mouthwatering The Vanilla Bean Blog, I assumed it was just another noble reinterpretation of the classic.
But then I read about the “pan bump” and was intrigued. I’ve played around with ingredients — dark brown sugar instead of light, an extra egg yolk, browned butter — but rarely do I mess with technique.
Especially not once the cookies are INSIDE the oven!
But that’s exactly what Sarah Kieffer wants us to do, because apparently, slamming the pan has a ripple-producing effect that promises extra delicious results. I had to know if it was true, so I got to work. Read below for my honest opinion of the internet’s cookie du jour.
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I just want to thank all of you for the chocolate chip cookie love! It took me over a year to get this recipe just right, and I didn't know if all the freezing dough and pan-banging shenanigans would keep people from trying it. But you seem to like it! And I'm so glad. 🍪🍪❤️❤️🍪❤️🍪#vanillabeanbakingbook
Before you begin:
— The recipe has been featured in endless publications, including the the New York Times, and is also in Kieffer’s mouthwatering cookbook, The Vanilla Bean Baking Cookbook, which you should grab. But for now, if you just want the goods, get Sarah’s Pan Banging Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on her site. (But then, seriously, pick up a copy of the book too.)
— A large cookie or ice cream scoop isn’t necessary, but helps shape the dough perfectly. I know that an ice cream scoop is big, but so are these cookies — they need to be for the ripple effect to work.
— Technique matters for this recipe: chilling the dough, spacing the cookies, banging the cookie sheet. These are the cookies to make when you have an attention span. Or at least after a cup of coffee.
— Making this dough is easy, delicious, and requires no fancy ingredients. That said, do not miss the addition of 2 tablespoons of water. It’s neccessary.
— For most (all?) of us without professional kitchens, freezing an entire cookie sheet is difficult. So, due to space constraints, I placed just four cookie dough balls on a quarter sheet tray (see below; a plate would also work). Then, after the 15-minute freezing time, I transferred the four cookies to a larger cookie sheet so that they’d have space to spread out while baking.
— I read conflicting instructions about whether to lift and bang one side or the whole tray, so I did it both ways. I lifted one side up at first, but then decided to bang the whole darn thing a few times, with a decent amount of force.
The bottom line:
This is a ridiculously delicious cookie. The edges have a crisp, caramelized taste and the center is sufficiently doughy and chocolate-y. This is not your average cookie, but perhaps a part of that is the sheer size of the thing. I found it hard to create as many ripples as the other pros – and honestly I’m not sure how much those affect the taste – but my advice would be to not overthink the timing or technique of the pan bangs. At the same time, don’t be timid about them since you want to ensure that the cookies eventually crinkle and, most importantly, flatten.
Even if you’re not motivated to make these, you can still stare at Sarah Kieffer’s Instagram feed and drool. BYOM (milk).