Sunflowers grow easily here in America. They should, because this is their home; sunflowers are native to the Americas. According to Loren H. Rieseberg’s “Origin of Extant Domesticated Sunflowers in Eastern North America,” sunflowers were first cultivated about 4,600 years ago in what is now Tabasco, Mexico. Later, they were found to have been farmed 4,300 years ago in Tennessee. Aztecs, Otomi and Incas used it as a symbol for their sun god. Today it is the symbol of The Vegan Society, the oldest vegan society in the world founded by Dorothy Watson and her husband Donald in 1944 in the United Kingdom.
To me, these cookies engender happiness. They’re sweet, of course, with crispy, crunchy toasted sunflower seeds and little blasts of saltiness that come from the large grains of kosher salt.
Little piles of shells are evidence of their popularity as snacks among humans as well as by birds and other animals. My crop this year got pulled to the ground by squirrels. There are around 70 species with some producing seeds that are made into sunflower oil, my favorite cooking oil. It has a pleasant flavor and can be used with low, high or no heat in a salad dressing. The largest producer of sunflower seeds in the world in 2018 was the Ukraine followed by Russia, Argentina, Romania and China.
The recipe has been adapted from one by Kristen Essig of Edible New Orleans at edibleneworleans.ediblecommunities.com. She created a denser cookie that could be pulsed in a food processor and used as a cheesecake pie crust. To do that, double the amount of rolled oats and butter. I bet it would be excellent, although I haven’t tried it.
Toasted sunflower seed cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups quick rolled oats
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast sunflower seeds until they turn brown and are crunchy. Watch carefully. Let cool.
Raise the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or using an electric egg beater, cream the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat well.
Add the flour mixture. Do not overmix. Finally add the oats and sunflower seeds and mix until completely combined.
Make about 30 equal-size balls. Place 12 on each cookie tin and flatten a bit with the bottom of a cup measurer. They will expand.
Bake cookies for about 8 minutes until just golden brown on their edges and bottoms.
Remove from pans and cool. They keep well in a tin.