In 1960, reader Jane Goyer of West Boylston, Massachusetts, sent us this recipe for her grandmother’s soft sugar cookies, filled with minced apples, nuts, spices, and raisins (we substituted dried cranberries). They’re like tiny apple pies. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients; these cookies are very simple to make.
In her introduction to the recipe, Jane wrote, “Grandma’s big black wood-burning stove was a wonder to behold. Its coil pipe, reaching almost to the ceiling, looked like a huge black cobra to the eyes of a little child. It was Grandpa’s wedding gift to his bride. He carried her over the threshold and set her down before it. She embraced it, then cried tears of joy for the love of it. That afternoon—yes, on her wedding day—she cooked beef stew and dumplings and a batch of cookies to test the oven. Can you imagine a bride today cooking on her honeymoon?”
First, make the filling: Put the cranberries, walnuts, apple, lemon juice, brown sugar, and spices in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350° and set two racks to the middle, with space in between. Grease two baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
Using a standing or hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, and stir to combine. Dust the counter generously with flour, and roll out half the dough to a ⅛-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters, and arrange on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Gather and reroll dough as needed.
Spoon a heaping teaspoon of filling into the center of each cookie. Now roll out the second batch as above; then cut into shapes, and lay each one on top of a filled cookie, lightly pressing edges to seal.
Bake until golden around the edges, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Now make the glaze: Drizzle 1 tablespoon of cream into ¾ cup of confectioners’ sugar, and stir with a fork until it forms a smooth paste with the consistency of honey. Add more cream as needed. Set the wire racks over waxed paper, and drizzle each cookie with a teaspoonful of the glaze, spreading with the back of a spoon.
These cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week; they also freeze well.