Goldfinches on Zinnias


There is no excuse for these cookies–none! The recipe is from an ancient copy of Gourmet, from the time long ago when no one worried about fat, with the result that the cookies are so loaded with butter it’s ridiculous. They are also too large! But can a cookie be too large? I leave that to you to wrestle with! All I know is that these are buttery to the max, and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, would be much easier to make than a pecan pie. Go for it!

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

2-1/2 sticks (1-1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans plus
30 pecans halves, for garnish
1/2 cup oatmeal

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and brown sugar together for about five minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl down several times. The mixture will be light, creamy and fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, the chopped pecans, and the oats. Stir into the butter mixture and combine well. Drop 1/4-cup measures of the dough about 4 inches apart onto the baking sheet. With the palm of your hand flatten each mound into a 3/4-inch thick round. Press 2 pecan halves on top of each cookie and bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Allow to cool off a bit before transferring to a rack. Makes about 15 cookies.

Baking notes: The original recipe stated that quantity of cookies would be 24. But I used a 1/4-cup cookie scoop, and it came up 15. You can certainly make the cookies smaller, by using a generous tablespoon of dough, and pressing only one pecan half on top.

Original recipe, from Gourmet Magazine, January 1992.


Behind the scenes of a cookie photo shoot! Kitty Puff supervises.

Goldfinches on Zinnias

When I planted zinnia seeds in the early summer, I didn’t realize just how popular the flowers would be with butterflies, hummingbirds, and, especially, goldfinches. It’s as though I had planted a goldfinch theme park, complete with rides and free food! I’d been wondering why the goldfinches had been pulling the zinnia petals out, but it turns out there’s a fresh, juicy seed at the end of each petal. So that’s why my zinnias are going bald! It’s so much fun to watch the birds that I really don’t mind. (I took the photos through our dining room window, so they are a bit murky, though I hope in an interesting, atmospheric way.) Peace to you. Fran

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