Beats & Treats: Jon Pardi’s California Sunrise as a Boot-Stompin’ Cookie Recipe

Nimai Larson’s (Prince Rama) Classy Cowboy Cookies are worth spending your whole paycheck on.

It was a challenge coming up with a recipe that matches Jon Pardi’s new album, California Sunrise — how it excited me and won me over. But Pardi’s deep, velvety voice and sweet-talkin’ lyrics gave me just the sprinkle of inspiration that I needed to concoct my Classy Cowboy Cookies!

The record explores themes such as money and love — two very relevant topics when it comes to my super-hot baking life! I love baking, duh, and I love the money that allows me to scour the grocery store for the perfect ingredients!

In “All Time High,” Pardi sings, “I wanna roll you up and smoke ya/so addicting every time I get to hold ya/You’re my dealer and I’m your love junkie/I don’t care I’ll spend all my money.” This sentiment rings true when it comes to the cookies I whipped up in honor of his seductively honest album. Not a single penny was pinched in the making of these treats, and the result is a melt-in-your-mouth snack that goes down smoother than whatever’s in your red Solo cup.

Pardi’s deep, velvety voice and sweet-talkin’ lyrics gave me just the sprinkle of inspiration that I needed to concoct my Classy Cowboy Cookies.

The minute your mouth is around one of my Classy Cowboy Cookies, you’ll be hooked! And, most important, you’ll forget about how much you had to spend on the fancy ingredients. As Pardi sings on “All Time High,” “You taste like heaven/You turn my knob right to eleven/You make me feel so right/Cuz baby you’re my all-time high.”

Oh baby, let’s get baked!

Jon Pardi’s Classy Cowboy Cookies

1 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 vegan egg (2 teaspoons of flaxmeal, 2 teaspoons of chia seeds, and 1/4 cup of hot water)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons of Earth Balance
6 ounces of Guittard bittersweet baking chocolate
Lots of pine nuts
Lots of cacao nibs


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside. In a 1/4 measuring cup, combine the flaxmeal, chia seeds and hot water for the vegan egg and let the ingredients sit until they become gelatinous, like a real egg. Put that in a mixing bowl with the maple syrup and vanilla.

Gosh, doesn’t this sound like chemistry? THAT’S BECAUSE IT IS. Baking can be so intimidating! Like songwriting, it takes the perfect formula to hit the sweet spot. In his opening track, “Out of Style,” Mr. Pardi remembers the musical advice that old-timers gave him when he first moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to become a country star: “Said write about the things you know about/If there’s anything that you don’t know about/Just stick around and you’ll find out before too long.” I know I’ve tried to expose myself to as many amazing chocolate cookies as I could over the years! It’s great advice that Pardi gives his listeners 🙂

Over medium heat in a non-stick skillet, melt the Earth Balance with the bittersweet baking chocolate until it’s smooth and melty. Mix that into the other wet ingredients in the mixing bowl.

Maple syrup is, like, $18.99 at Whole Foods. More like Whole Paycheck. But it’s my favorite sugar substitute and adds a rich flavor to my cookies. Once I was set on using maple syrup instead of sugar, I thought to myself, “Why not use pine nuts and cacao nibs — the most expensive kind of nut and superfood on the market — as the toppings?”

Pardi can relate. In “Paycheck” he debates, “I got cash, yeah/Should I save it, no/I’m gonna spend it, yeah/cuz I earned it, yeah.” And DUH I was going to use the fancy bittersweet baking chocolate with the name I can’t pronounce! I may have been the only woman in Whole Foods without a tall, hot dad in a striped sweater (with a baby in a sling) next to her shopping cart, but my un-love life doesn’t get me down! Pardi understands the benefit of retail therapy when he sings, “Take my blues away/Paycheck won’t you take my blues away?”

Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and use an electric beater to swiftly whisk out all the lumps.

This is where it starts to get dirty! Mr. Pardi doesn’t seem to mind the grit at all. In “Dirt on My Boots” he teases, “Might have a little dirt on my boots/but I’m takin’ you uptown tonight/Might have a little mud on my wheels/but they gonna shine with you up inside/Might have a little dirt on my boots/but we gonna dance the dust right off them tonight.”

Whoo, he can really get me swingin’ my electric beaters around and swivelin’ my hips under my apron! He continues, “Hard as I worked all day I’m gonna work hard on lovin’ you/Spin you all over that dance floor right outta those high heel shoes/And when you’re ready to quit, baby, we can slip right outta that barroom door/And when I take you home don’t worry babe I’m gonna kick ’em off on the porch.” He might as well be singin’ about me the way I’m carrying on, barefoot-prancing around the kitchen. These cookies are hard work, but the labor of love is going to pay off, I swear!

Let’s make the dough into balls using a clean tablespoon. Set the balls two inches apart on a lined baking sheet. Smush little handfuls of pine nuts and cacao nibs into the dough, pressing down just firmly enough to make sure the toppings won’t roll right off.

Pop these sweet treats in the oven for eleven to thirteen minutes. I am so impatient that I left the oven light on so I could watch my little cookies bake! Similarly, in the sexy after-work jam “Nightshift,” Pardi sings, “Love how you leave on the lights/Not a thing between you and me.”

As soon as they were finished, not a SINGLE thing could come between my Classy Cowboy Cookies and me. Pardi and I were singin’ “Head over Boots for You” together by the time I was savoring my second: “You’re the one I want, you’re the one I need baby/If I was a king, you would be my queen/You’re the rock in my roll, you’re good for my soul/It’s true I’m head over boots for you!”


Nimai Larson, one half of the Brooklyn dance band Prince Rama, loves to write about her passions: music, food and love.

(photo credit: Photo Pink)