You never know what you’re gonna get!

Forrest Gump Cookies

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Though I’m no Tom Hanks fan (Wilson didn’t speak to me), I can still capitalize on his famous quote from Forrest Gump.  This recipe was borne of a desire to utilize a box of chocolates received last Easter for something other than me sitting down on my sofa and shamelessly eating the whole box.  I just can’t take the judgement of being discovered passed out next to a big pile of empty chocolate wrappers.  I wanted to find a more redeeming purpose for this succulent menagerie of mystery.

The dough itself is my basic brown butter dough, which readily lends itself to many different mix-ins…or plop-ons, as is the case here.  You can certainly just mix in regular chocolate chips and chopped pecans, but why not do something special?!  Any boxed chocolates will do quite well, as will any variety of Gertrude Hawk Smidgen chocolates.  Chopped Lindt Truffles also work well.  I highly recommend staying true to one variety of chocolate per cookie — nobody wants a nauseating combo of raspberry truffle and mint creme.  This recipe is one place where segregation is okay (and is actually encouraged!).
The chocolates themselves weather baking best if chopped and frozen for an hour or so prior to adding them to the cookie dough.  Chocolates intended for eating and looking pretty are formulated differently from baking chocolates, which are intended to be solid, get cooked, then return to a solid state, all without spreading all over the place.  Boxed and other gourmet chocolates are not made to be baked, per se, but they certainly can be incorporated into your baking lineup — just freeze them first!

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These cookies are rich and decadent and serve as the perfect pairing for a tall glass of ice cold milk.  And if you eat too many, you always to run, Forrest, run to burn off the calories!
A quick note on summer baking:  heat and humidity can sound the death knell for any butter-based cookie.  Simply rolling dough balls between your hot hands can lead to unsightly amoeboid messes.  Don’t worry though!  June through August need not be a time for cookie prohibition! (I’d rather die)  Just be sure to chill the butter after you brown it, chill the dough after you mix it, and chill the dough blobs after you form them.  In short, fear not, just chill.

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Forrest Gump Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, browned and cooled
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (plus more for sprinkling)
~3/4 cup chopped chocolate candies (from a box of assorted chocolates, any other gourmet chocolate     confection, or just some chopped up Reese’s peanut butter cups…pick your poison), frozen for at least 1 hour prior to baking

 

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together cooled brown butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy, ~2-3 minutes.  Beat in vanilla and egg, ~1 minute.  Meanwhile, use a fork to combine and aerate flour, baking soda, and salt, in a small mixing bowl.  Turn mixer to low, and gradually beat in dry ingredients.  Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap, and chill overnight in fridge for up to three days.
Remove dough from fridge 1 hour prior to baking — you want the dough to be moldable, or else you won’t get beautifully round bakery-esque cookies.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Use two teaspoons to mold heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into smooth blobs, and place on prepped baking sheets.  Space dough blobs 2″ apart to allow for spreading without kissing.  Place cookie sheets in freezer for 10 minutes to re-chill the dough (especially if it’s July when you’re making them), then press 2-3 candy pieces (depending on how large they are) into the top of each dough blob, sprinkle with a little sea salt, and bake 7-9 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through bake time.  Remove cookies from oven when they are puffy, the edges are BARELY golden, and the tops no longer appear wet — image on left is IMMEDIATELY post-removal from oven; image on right shows how cookies deflate during the mandatory on-sheet-rest period.  Allow cookies to sit on sheets for 2-3 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Store cookies in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 5 days.  [Note:  if your chocolates are still soft when you go to package them for storage (or gifting), store cookies in refrigerator to re-harden chocolate — this aspect is very much dependent on weather conditions]

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