If you grew up near Brookings, S.D., you most likely visited McCrory Gardens for an elementary school field trip. Chances are, your brown-bag sack lunch contained a soggy, white-bread bologna sandwich and a plastic baggie filled with Dakota Style chips. Fast forward twenty-five years and you can bake cookies with maple syrup straight from McCrory’s trees and sunflower seed kernels from the potato grower in Clark, just 80 miles up the road.
The inspiration for these cookies came from three things:
- I bought a jar of sunflower seed butter from Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and I wasn’t sure what to do with it.
- I purchased a little jug of maple syrup from the McCrory Gardens gift shop.
- I love peanut butter and maple syrup on my waffles.
So, I bought a bag of Dakota Style sunflower kernels and whipped up a batch of cookies quite different from my normal baking — there’s no chocolate!
Maple Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sunflower seed butter (of course you could use peanut butter if you prefer)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels
Make the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350°.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl stir together the white sugar, brown sugar, sunflower seed butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and softened butter. Briskly stir in egg until the mixture is well combined and creamy.
Add the sunflower seed butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir. A wooden spoon works best. Stir in the crispy rice cereal and sunflower seed kernels.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop the cookie dough by the teaspoonful onto the pan, leaving an inch between cookies. Gently push the cookies down slightly to make circles. Bake 10 minutes.
Remove from oven. Let cool on the cookie sheet for at least 20 minutes. These cookies are really soft so they are hard to move onto a cooling rack when they are hot. Once the cookies have cooled enough to move them without falling apart, transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Store cooled cookies in an airtight container. Makes approximately 32 soft cookies.
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Have you been to McCrory Gardens recently? They have developed the botanical gardens nicely the last few years and they recently opened the Education and Visitor Center. Here’s a picture of the cute little cottage in the winter. I have a nostalgic connection to this cottage — if I remember correctly, it used to be a little gas station in Lake Preston. For those of you who remember my best friend and our classmate, Darya, she loved this little station. There was a time after Darya died that her parents and another local family had the opportunity to donate the small building to McCrory gardens in memory of their loved ones. It makes a romantic, dreamy background for photos so bring your camera.
If you’re in the area:McCrory Gardens 631 22nd Avenue Brookings, SD 57006 www.mcrorygardens.com