Does Pan Banging Cookies Make Them More Delicious?

Find out from the baker who perfected the technique in her new book, ‘100 Cookies’

Photos courtesy of Sarah Keiffer

Beloved baker Sarah Kieffer (The Vanilla Bean Blog) produced universal shock and awe in the cooking and baking community with her “pan banging” technique, in which she taps her cookie sheet in the oven every few minutes during the baking process, causing the cookies to fall and creating two textures: a crisp outer edge and a soft, gooey center (i.e., nirvana).

This month, Kieffer’s bible of cookies is being released to the world. The book, 100 Cookies, is an excellent staple, comprising classics, tons of different kinds of brownies and blondies, and multiple pan-bangers, plus more time-consuming treats for the ambitious baker (French Silk Pie Bars! Maybe when childcare and some semblance of normalcy is back in place — fingers crossed).

“When I was fourteen years old, I embarked on what is now known in my family as the ‘cookie years,’” Kieffer writes in the introduction. “Each day I’d step off a hot school bus, walk a half block to my back door, throw my book bag somewhere in the kitchen, and get to work: mixing, whisking, and baking until my mom took over the kitchen so she could get dinner started. The story I told my mom about my afternoon baking compulsion was that I was setting out to make the perfect, quintessential cookie, but really the whole project started as an excuse to eat cookie dough.”

Well, most of us can relate to that last bit. But as for the rest: Kieffer’s enthusiasm for baking is contagious, and she’s got some really stellar recipes. Here are a few to get you started.

Neapolitan Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup [8 g] freeze-dried strawberries
  • 1 cup [2 sticks or 227 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¾ cups [350 g] granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 or 3 drops red food coloring (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • White, pink, and brown sprinkles, for rolling (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, pulverize the strawberries into a powder.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
  4. Dump the dough out onto a work surface and divide it into three equal portions. Put one-third of the dough back into the mixer and add the powdered strawberries and food coloring, if using. Mix on low speed until totally combined, then remove the dough and quickly wipe out the bowl of the mixer.
  5. Add another third of dough to the mixer. Add the cocoa powder and mix on low speed until totally combined.
  6. Pinch a small portion (about ½ oz [15 g]) of each of the three doughs, and press them gently together, so they adhere to each other, but keep their unique colors. Press the piece into a cookie scoop or roll it into a ball, then roll the ball into sprinkles (if using). Place 6 or 7 cookies on each sheet pan. Bake the cookies one pan at a time, rotating halfway through baking. Bake until the sides are set and the cookies are puffed, 10 to 11 minutes.
  7. Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the pan, then remove them and let them cool completely on the wire rack. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Notes

Toasted Sesame Pan-Banging Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons [1½ sticks or 170 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup [200 g] granulated sugar
  • ½ cup [100 g] brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 oz [85 g] bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into bite-size pieces (averaging ½ in [12 mm] with some smaller and some larger, optional)
  • Black and white sesame seeds, for rolling

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, toasted sesame oil, water, and vanilla, and mix on low speed to combine. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Add the chocolate, if using, and mix until combined.
  3. Form the dough into 3 oz [85 g] balls (¼ cup). Roll in the sesame seeds, and place 4 cookies an equal distance apart on each sheet pan. Bake the cookies one pan at a time. Bake until the dough balls have spread flat but are puffed slightly in the center, 9 minutes. Lift one side of the sheet pan up about 4 in [10 cm] and gently let it drop down against the oven rack, so the edges of the cookies set and the center falls back down. After the cookies puff up again in 2 minutes, repeat lifting and dropping the pan. Repeat a few more times to create ridges around the edge of the cookie. Bake for 15 to 16 minutes total, until the cookies have spread out and the edges are golden brown but the centers are much lighter and not fully cooked.
  4. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes, then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days (or refrigerate for up to 3 days).

Cinnamon Roll Blondies

For the cream cheese filling

  • ¼ cup [50 g] granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

For the cinnamon sugar swirl

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 recipe Brown Butter Blondies (below)

Instructions

For the cream cheese filling
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt, and mix on medium speed until well combined.

For the cinnamon sugar swirl
In a small saucepan, melt the brown sugar, butter, and salt together over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon until combined.

To assemble

  1. Bake for 25 to 29 minutes. A wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies should come out with just a couple of crumbs.
  2. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut them into bars. Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Notes

Brown Butter Blondies

Ingredients

  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup [2 sticks or 227 g] unsalted butter
  • 1 cup [200 g] granulated sugar
  • 1 cup [200 g] brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs plus 4 large yolks, room temperature
  • ¾ cup [90 g] toasted pecans, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 4 oz [113 g] bittersweet chocolate, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • ½ cup [85 g] semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 12 tablespoons [170 g] of the butter. Brown the butter until it is dark golden brown and giving off a nutty aroma, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 4 tablespoons [57 g] butter to the pot, swirling the pot until the butter stops foaming. Add the granulated and brown sugars, vanilla, and salt, and stir to combine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Add the eggs and yolks and whisk until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the pecans, chopped chocolate, and chocolate chips, and stir gently.
  3. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and pat into an even layer. Bake for 16 to 22 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies should come out slightly wet with clinging crumbs for gooey blondies, and just a couple of crumbs for cakey blondies.
  4. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut them into bars. Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

All recipes reprinted from 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen, with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More by Sarah Kieffer with permission by Chronicle Books, 2020.

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