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Baking Sarah Kieffer’s Pan-Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies

Despite posting my cookie baking experience week after week, I’m not very deep into the social media baking world. I had a brief Instagram phase a few years ago, and I more recently tried to turn a few of these posts into Twitter threads. However, I otherwise miss out on most baking trends unless they show up on one of the few blogs I follow via RSS.

A friend recently gifted me Sarah Kieffer’s cookbook. I was excited to try this innovative “pan-banging” chocolate chip cookie, but whenever I mentioned it to a friend, they had already heard of it. Apparently it made the rounds and landed in the New York Times, which I completely missed.

But it was very exciting to know that there was tremendous validation that the recipe was worth doing, so I took a shot.

First, I enjoyed the luxury of an island by spreading out all of the ingredients.

Like many chocolate chip cookie recipes seem to do now, this one doesn’t recommend using chips. I’m not sure I got the average 1/2 inch chip. I also averaged different bars to a bittersweet percentage.

The wet part of the batter was mostly conventional with two tweaks. First, the eggs and vanilla also go in with 2 tbsp of water. I’m not sure why there’s extra water, but there is. Second, these are only slowly beaten into the eggs and sugar instead of being whipped in. I’m not sure why there either.

The dry ingredients and chips go in next. I do think I ended up shaving some of the chocolate too thin for the dough. I either need to sharpen my knife again or switch to my good knife.

Next came the baking. The recipe recommended only 4 cookies to a sheet, and I realized why when I measured it out. It called for 100 gram dough balls. For reference, most of my past dough balls are at most 35 grams, so these cookies are three or four times bigger than most.

I decided to bake using the bottom heat only to most closely replicate a conventional American oven. That part worked fine, but I noticed my cookies had moved towards the edges.

About 9 minutes in came the first pan-bang. The goal is to get very crinkly cookies with ripples of crunchy edges. The technique is to wait for the edges to set, then to lift up one side of the pan and drop it so it knocks the wind out of the cookies. And you do that a few times. The effect are cookies like trees where you can count the bangs in rings.

However, when I first tried to bang, I ran into a problem.

When I lifted one side of the pan, the aluminum foil (used at her suggestion) slid, so I had to move quickly to avoid dropping the cookies into the bottom of the oven.

As you can see, the cookies looked a little funny. First, there were square edges. That was from the cookies hitting the edge of the pan. Second, they didn’t ripple much. That was from being unable to bang the pan.

The upside of baking 4 cookies at a time was that I had several opportunities to improve on the technique.

First, I switched pans. I had been using my Nordic Ware aluminum pans because they weren’t warped. Or at least, they didn’t have that loud thud when they suddenly warped in the pan. But when I actually looked at it, it had risen slightly in the middle (just like all of my non-stick pans). So I switched back to my Calphalon pans hoping they wouldn’t pop.

Second, I wrapped the aluminum foil over the edges so it wouldn’t shift.

And it seemed to work pretty well. I also remembered to apply the fancy salt.

Finally, I tried the convection setting on the oven. Given the specific technique for this recipe, I was actually quite skeptical, but it worked even better.

I did have to adjust the baking time slightly, but with all the pan banging, I was paying attention anyways. Here are the cookies side by side

Now you can’t trust everything you read on the internet, but you can trust that the pan-banging cookies are really good. They really are both crunchy and soft in the right proportions. Even Julie, who has dismissed every chocolate chip cookie recipe as inferior to her family’s favorite, put this into the top tier.

But the cookies are massive. I recommend cutting them into quarters.

If you want to try these cookies, you can find the recipe on Sarah’s blog.

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