Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

I am not normally into short stories, even by my favorite authors. Stephen King is the notable example, because he puts so much characterization into his short stories and novellas that they stand on their own. Case in point, my absolute favorite short story by King, “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” is a beautiful, and heart-wrenching read, and it crams so much personality into a small space. And nary a ghost in sight, other than the spirits of regret, pain, revenge, and ultimately, yes, redemption. Gwendy’s Button Box follows a similar trajectory, though it’s a relatively short read.

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In this story, Gwendy is a 12-year old girl who unexpectedly meets The Man in Black – one Richard Farris by name – one summer in Castle Rock. Yes, Castle Rock is back, and comparatively unthreatening this time around. The Man offers Gwendy a box that dispenses chocolate drops that she learns, as time goes on, enhance everything about her life. But as with every gift in this world, there is a price to be paid and the price for Gwendy caretaking this box is that it also has buttons. There is a red button, a black button and other buttons that, as Gwendy learns to her horror, are connected to specific countries and regions around the world. The buttons, if pushed, cause things to happen. Don’t, no matter what happens, press the black button, though. So of course, she does……..

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The book follows Gwendy from pre-teens to her 20s and shows glimpses of her life beyond. I couldn’t help but wonder how the other kids fared when they had to take over watching the box. But I don’t want to spoil it. It’s a great story, a quick read, but very engaging and classic King in his characterizations.

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What’s cool about this book, as with any other book set in Castle Rock, is seeing the references to other books and events. I love how King always put in little “Easter eggs” for his fans. The Man in Black is, after all, no stranger to either Castle Rock or King devotees, although here, he seems somewhat benign. Until you get farther in and realize exactly what kind of box he’s actually given Gwendy.

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I tried to think of recipes for actually making chocolate drop candies, but what came to mind are Hershey kisses. I mean, it doesn’t get any better than those. They are perfectly sized, pre-wrapped, and have portion control built in.

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So I began pondering how I could incorporate Hershey kisses into something, and chocolate drop cookies came immediately to mind. So here are mine, based on this Allrecipes method but with a couple of small tweaks of my own.

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INGREDIENTS
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2-3 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Hershey kisses. for topping

METHOD
Pre-heat the oven to 350F.ย In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

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In your most awesome red Kitchen Aid, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.

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Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix again.

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One spoonful at a time, sieve in the dry ingredients to the wet in the Kitchen Aid, and mix together until a nice, chocolately cookie dough forms. You don’t have to use the sieve, but I find it gives baked goods a much smoother and nicer texture and they bake more evenly.

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Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, or if you have an ice-cream scoop (I do not, but it’s in my Amazon shopping cart), scoop out 1-inch balls, and place on parchment sheet-covered cookie pans. And only because I remember my grandmother Nana Jean doing this when she made cookies, I pressed my thumb into the middle of the dough, to make a well for the chocolate drop.

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Bake for 11 minutes and immediately remove from oven.

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Press one chocolate Hershey Kiss in the center of each cookie while still hot, so it melts a little and adheres to the cookie. Let cool and enjoy.

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They are nice and rich, not overly sweet but very moist and tasty and capable of either killing the world or saving it. The Man in Black would surely approve.

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12 thoughts on “Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

  1. I’ve always wondered if Stephen King talks a lot in real life. The man packs a lot of words into his stories!! I’m going to need to catch up on my Stephen King reading…he’s always been a guity pleasure. And wouldn’t it be fun to have these cookies on hand while reading the story. I like to sieve, too. I grew up sifting, then didn’t sift, but now I think you’re 100 percent right! I notice a difference when I do. Your Nanas hint is fun!

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    1. LOL! I was fortunate to see him do a speaking engagement here in Albuquerque about two years ago. He definitely can talk up a storm. But he’s so damn funny and sharp that you don’t really mind too much. I hope you like the cookies if you make them. They are super easy, and it was a retro pleasure adding the Hershey kiss at the end. It’s amazing all the little rubble you pick up in your flour if you do sieve. I realize it’s not everyone’s shot of whiskey, but it really does make a difference if you’re a baker.

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    1. Thanks, Jen! The nice thing about this book is that it’s pretty short, so I doubt it will take you long. It’s a great short story, and anything with The Man in Black always catches my interest. And the cookies were devoured by my office colleagues the next day, so I guess they were good. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m on the Atkins meal plan, with the exception of my blog days, so no more sugar for me. But the fact that they were all gone is a good sign, wouldn’t you say? ๐Ÿ™‚

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      1. I saw that it was around 170 pages or so which isn’t bad. I need quick reads right now! It totally doesn’t surprise that they ate all your cookies! I can only imagine how delicious they were. Oh, I miss sweets so much and feel for you. It’s something I’ll never get over. โค

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      2. Actually, I have never had a sweet tooth, so this way of eating works very well for me. I occasionally have a random sugar craving, so a piece of fruit or even a Jolly Rancher candy does it for me. I do have sweetened creamer in my morning coffee, but that is really about it. But I can understand having cravings for something. And don’t forget to let yourself have a treat occasionally. You’ll enjoy it much more and find it easier to keep on track.

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  2. Mmm. The cookies look great! And I do love an appearance of the man in black! I have a love/hate relationship with Stephen King though… I love to hate him!! Lol! Ok. No. But, I love his ideas, but I hate the way he has to be SO WORDY! I don’t need the description of a table to be a page long!! But, I do enjoy his short stories. I think it’s because he needs to be reined in to keep it short!!

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    1. You are so funny. I agree with you about some of his longer books, particularly the endings. It’s almost like he gets on a tangent and doesn’t know how to end. This one was really quite well written and didn’t have a huge amount of horror in it, so I think it’s appropriate for most ages. You’d probably enjoy it, as he’s really able to put a lot of characterization into a small space. I’m sure it helped that he had a co-writer.

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