Adapted from Sarah Kieffer’s game-changing, Instagram-famous cookies—found in her cookbook The Vanilla Bean Baking Book—this recipe is all about the wrinkles. Kieffer swears by the “pan-banging” technique, where you lift up the cookie’s sheet pan mid-bake, then let it fall with an ominous thud. Just trust: This repeated deflating leads to ripple after ripple in the crust, like you just dropped a stone in a pond. If you want to get nitty-gritty about it, there are lots of other factors that make a cookie pan-bangable—for instance, the added water, lower egg quantity, giant scoop size, and how you freeze the dough balls before baking. —Emma Laperruque
about 10 cookies
(2 sticks, 227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
(200 grams) granulated sugar
(160 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Line 2 sheet pans with aluminum foil (dull side facing up), parchment paper, or silicone mats.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until creamy. Scrape. Add the sugars and salt. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, and water, and mix on low to combine. Add the baking soda and mix. Add the flour and mix until almost combined. Add the chocolate and mix one last time. (At this point, the dough can be refrigerated for several hours or overnight.)
Heat the oven to 350°F. Scoop the dough into 100-gram balls (a heaping 1/3 cup each). Sprinkle with flaky salt, then place on a plate and freeze for 15 minutes before baking.
Place 4 cookie dough balls an equal distance apart on one of the prepared sheet pans. Bake for 10 minutes, until the cookies are slightly puffy in the center. Lift the sheet pan and let it drop down against the oven rack, so the edges of the cookies set and the centers deflate. (If the centers don’t deflate, bang a little harder.) 3 minutes later, after the cookies puff up again, lift and drop the pan again. Repeat this pan-banging one to two more times, to create lots of wrinkles. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes total, until the cookies have spread out, the edges are golden brown, and the centers are still gooey.
Let cool for 10 or so minutes on the sheet pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Finish baking the remaining cookie dough in the same way as above.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing stories about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now, she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. See what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.