Recipe Review

Are These Chocolate Chip Cookies the Next Internet Sensation? I Tried Them to Find Out.

published Aug 20, 2022
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Credit: Grace Elkus

Sarah Kieffer, creator of The Vanilla Bean Blog, is nothing short of a cookie genius. She invented the viral pan-banging chocolate chip cookies, developed my favorite sugar cookie recipe, and wrote the book on cookies (for real). So when she announced that she had a new chocolate chip cookie recipe to share, I obviously had to try it. 

In her Instagram caption, Kieffer explained that she spent months creating this “2.0” cookie, which has crispy edges, a gooey center, and a perfectly crinkled top. The recipe is sponsored by Ghirardellhi, so Kieffer also emphasized the balanced chocolate flavor, which she achieves by using a mix of 52% and 72% cacao chips. 

Could this cookie be Kieffer’s best chocolate chip cookie of all time? And, more importantly, would it be my new go-to? Here’s what happened when I gave it a try. 

How to Make Sarah Kieffer’s Chocolate Chip Cookies 2.0 

Other than letting the butter come to room temperature, these cookies come together fast. There’s no need to ripen the dough, do any sort of laminating, or aerate the eggs and sugar. I liked this recipe already! 

You’ll start by whisking the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Kieffer recommends using Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour, which she says has a moderate protein content that helps keep baked goods tender. Next, you’ll beat the softened unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy, then add granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and fine salt and beat until light and fluffy. (Kieffer doesn’t specify whether to use light or dark brown sugar in the recipe itself, but says to use light in the comments section.)

Mix in an egg, egg yolk, and a full tablespoon of pure vanilla extract. Add the flour and beat on low speed until combined, then add the two types of chocolate. Although Kieffer suggests a mix of 52% and 72% chips, some commenters, including myself, were having trouble finding the 52% chocolate in stores. Luckily, Kieffer mentions that semi-sweet chips are a great substitute, so that’s what I used. 

Credit: Grace Elkus

Scoop the dough into balls (about 2 tablespoons or 50 grams each), and divide the cookies between two parchment-lined sheet pans. I ended up with three extra dough balls, so I froze them according to Kieffer’s directions. Sprinkle the dough with flaky salt, then bake the pans one at a time at 400°F until the tops are golden-brown and the centers are slightly puffed, about 10 minutes. 

Credit: Grace Elkus

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Sarah Kieffer creation if there wasn’t some fun technique applied, so at this point you’ll use the back of a spatula to gently flatten the top of each warm cookie. Kieffer says that the gentle smash, inspired by recipes from Dorie Greenspan and Jessie Sheehan, helps create a thick and gooey center and a crinkly top. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the sheet pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Credit: Grace Elkus

My Honest Review of Sarah Kieffer’s Chocolate Chip Cookies 2.0 

I’ll admit that I was slightly disappointed by my first batch of these cookies. In the time it took for the tops to turn golden-brown — the visual indicator Kieffer had provided — the bottoms had become very dark and crispy, which of course I didn’t realize until the cookies were baked and cooled. In the recipe, Kieffer explains that baking the cookies at 400°F helps the cookies turn golden-brown on top and bottom, but I wasn’t convinced they were supposed to be this deeply browned. A few had even taken on a slightly burnt flavor.  

At this point, I was grateful that the cookies were meant to be baked one sheet at a time, because it gave me an opportunity to try something a little different. Before baking the second sheet, I moved the oven rack up by just one position so that it was in the upper third of the oven rather than the middle. Then, instead of waiting for the tops of the cookies to turn golden, I pulled them out of the oven when the very edges were taking on color but the tops were still mostly pale, and slightly underbaked. 

After smashing and cooling, this batch turned out to be perfect: the bottoms were golden-brown and just the right amount of crispy, and the centers were gooey but not raw. The next day, they were deliciously soft and chewy. The flaky salt on top was a huge hit with everyone who tasted them, and I liked that the addition of dark chocolate kept them from tasting overly sweet. I would definitely bake these again, and honestly, I prefer them to the pan-banging ones. They’re much less fussy and have a softer center.

Credit: Grace Elkus

If You’re Making These Cookies, a Few Tips 

  1. Use any mix of dark and semisweet chips. Don’t worry about using the exact percentage of chocolate that Kieffer calls for. As long as you use a mix of dark and semisweet chips, you’ll taste the balance of chocolate flavors she’s going for. Try experimenting with different shapes of chocolate, too — use some chopped chocolate and some chips, or throw in some chocolate discs
  2. Start checking the cookies at 8 minutes. Of course, how crispy you like your cookies comes down to personal preference. If you enjoy some crunch, try the recipe as written. But if you, like me, prefer just a slightly crispy bottom with a soft and gooey center, I recommend baking them in the upper third and pulling them out of the oven just as the edges start to turn golden — and not a minute longer. Check on them at 8 minutes and every minute after. 
  3. Wipe off your spatula between smashes. Because you’re smashing the cookies while they’re still warm, some of the melty chocolate will inevitably end up on the spatula. For smudge-free cookies, wipe off the spatula in between smashes.