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 if you were lucky, a 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!
Have you been to McCrory Gardens recently? They developed the botanical gardens nicely the last few years and they opened the Education and Visitor Center. Be sure to check out the Cottage Garden. I have a nostalgic connection to this cottage — 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 dreamy background for photos so bring your camera.
McCrory Gardens; 631 22nd Avenue, Brookings, S.D.; 605.688.6707
Maple Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies
- 1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup sunflower seed butter
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature , (1 stick)
- 1 egg, large
- 1½ cups crispy rice cereal, (Rice Krispies)
- ½ cup salted sunflower seed kernels , or unsalted
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate small bowl whisk together 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.
- Drop the cookie dough by the teaspoonful onto the pan, leaving an inch between cookies. Gently push the cookies down slightly. Bake 10-15 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, transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
All text and images © Staci Mergenthal • Random Sweets