These are simple to make, but the method—e.g., baking times, using parchment paper, using very finely chopped pecans, and so forth—should be followed precisely for best results. These stay crisp longer and are best if they are baked on a day when the weather is dry (not humid). This recipe is courtesy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking.
Find more cookie recipes from our 12 Days of Cookies here!
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a large, heavy, shiny baking sheet. (These cookies are likely to burn on a dark one.) Cut four sheets of parchment paper to fit the baking sheet. Line the baking sheet with one of them and set the others aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar on high speed for 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, salt, milk, vanilla, and orange zest, until evenly blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the oats and pecans until evenly mixed.
With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into 1-inch-diameter balls. Place the balls on the parchment paper on the baking sheet, leaving 3 inches in between. (Expect to get nine on the sheet.) Bake on the center oven rack for 11 to 13 minutes, until the cookies are flat, bubbly, and just starting to turn golden brown around the edges. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 1 minute. Carefully lift the sides of the parchment paper and place the cookies on the counter. Wait 2 to 3 minutes, then slide a thin-blade spatula under the cookies and transfer them to a cooling rack. (If the cookies are still too soft, wait a minute or two more.) Cool the cookies completely.
Allow the baking sheet to cool completely, or use a second baking sheet and line it with a fresh sheet of parchment paper before baking the next batch. (If you don’t use a fresh sheet of parchment paper, the cookies won’t be flat on the bottom).
To make a pretty dessert presentation, make lace cookie baskets. Turn small ramekins or a muffin pan upside down. Very lightly butter the outside of the ramekins or spray them with nonstick spray. After you’ve moved the cookies to the counter, wait about 30 seconds, or until you can get a spatula under a cookie without ruining it, then lift the cookies and drape them, one at a time, over the ramekins or muffin cups. Wait several minutes, until the cookies have held their shape, then remove. The cookies will have formed a little lace “basket” that can be filled with fresh berries and whipped cream.