Cream cheese makes these crunchy cranberry cookies irresistible

Maybe it was the recent record-breaking heat wave here in New York, but I just hadn’t been feeling very fall. My heart may have been saying “sweater weather,” but the thermometer was tauntingly registering “spring break.” I figured this called for cookies.

I fell in love with “The Pain d’Avignon Baking Book” not because I’m a big bread baker (I’m not), nor because my annual summer vacations on Cape Cod make me any authority on one of its most beloved bakeries (though I think I am). I took to the cookbook as soon as I beelined straight for the back of it, where the enticing yet approachable recipes for non-bread things like honey cornmeal cake and dark chocolate scones could be found. There, I spotted promising-looking slice-and-bake cranberry cookies that offered all the cozy satisfaction of a walk in the woods.

I love a slice-and-bake because it’s such an unfussy, reliable cookie, and it conjures up serious Pillsbury nostalgia. This one, however, is better than any supermarket cookie, thanks to a magical jolt of cream cheese in the dough. The result is a sublime treat that is tender on the inside but toasty on the edges, tart yet sweet. In other words, this one’s truly the platonic ideal of cookie excellence.

The Pain d’Avignon cookie is made with pecans, but pecans cost a fortune and I’m still trying to put a kid through college. If you’re feeling flush, by all means, reach for the pecans. However, I’ve tried to keep the fall vibe with less costly but still flavorful pepitas. I’ve also tweaked the proportions here a little to make measuring more streamlined.

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I can’t claim this recipe will yield an exact replica of the Pain d’Avignon cookie, but I hope these simplifications will motivate you to give it a try. While they’d go down very well with a cup of hot cider and a crackling fireplace, I can testify that they’re just as good on an unseasonably warm…

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