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Chef's Kitchen gets foxy with Mrs. Bean's Famous Nutmeg Ginger Apple Snaps

As a dreadful winter looms ahead, it's time to get cracking and load up on recipes that are warm, spicy, and comforting. Wes Anderson fans, rejoice! Kari has adapted one of her cookie recipes in an homage to The Fantastic Mr. Fox. These are simple, gorgeous, and best eaten voraciously, with a mug of cider.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of my all-time favourite movies. Wes Anderson completed a brilliant project that already would have been labour-intensive from the get-go because of stop-motion animation, but his personal touch and attention to fine details is what made it extra special. I love his films, and it definitely helps that he created a food-centric piece of work for children, but written with adults in mind. Mr. Fox was intricately detailed, vibrantly joyful, clever, and evoked a sense of nostalgic whimsy and childlike wonder.

One of my favourite parts of the movie is when Ash and Kristofferson sneak into Bean's kitchen to look for Fox's tail and ravage a warm plate of Mrs. Bean's famous nutmeg ginger apple snaps. They were some of the prettiest cookies that I have ever seen, and it became a mission to figure out how to turn them into a reality. There were a few recipes online, including an official one from Mario Batali, who voiced Rabbit, the chef in Mr. Fox, but all of them yielded cookies that didn't look like the ones on the plate. Here, for you, is a recipe that sparkles like the treats in the movie, and tastes like an East Coast Fall season in the living room of a baking fairy grandmother. Even better, the cookies are crunchy around the edges and chewy in the middle, underneath the apple.

Kari's Version of Mrs. Bean's Famous Nutmeg Ginger Apple Snaps
Makes 30 to 36 cookies, depending on size

2 cups unsalted butter, cubed and softened
2 tbsp molasses
6 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch ground cloves
1 tsp grated nutmeg
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
4 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose baking mix
2 tsp cornstarch
1 pinch salt
4 gala apples
1/2 cup coarse sugar for sprinkling

Preaheat oven to 325°F and move racks to the center level.

Cream the butter in a high-sided bowl, with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until it's light-coloured and easily forms peaks. Add the molasses, brown sugar, white sugar, spices, grated ginger, and vanilla extract, and whip again until fully blended.

Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt together, then add to the butter mixture in 3 batches, carefully and on low speed, until the ingredients are fully blended.

Roll dough into 2 to 3-tbsp balls, and flatten them on parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Slice the apples as thinly as you can, to about 2mm thickness. Firmly press a slice of apple into the center of each cookie. Sprinkle coarse sugar evenly over cookies to coat, paying special attention to the edges.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes, depending on your oven, until edges turn golden. Rotate the pan halfway through baking, and let cookies cool on the sheet before moving. Store in an airtight container.

A test cookie was made, with sections of granulated white, organic refined and turbinado sugars to see which coated the best. The organic refined sugar in Whole Foods' bulk gravity bins gave the cookies that attractive sparkliness, and formed a protective syrup that kept the apple slices from turning brown a day later. The crystals were slightly larger than granulated white sugar, and were a perfectly glittery, creamy colour. If you're not able to find it, sanding sugar is a great substitute and is available at baking suppliers and specialty stores.

If there are any movie aficionados out there who want to argue that these cookies produce a crunch, and not a snap, like a ginger snap, and that there are no stems on the apple slices, I will tell them that adding extra molasses would turn the cookies dark brown, and they have way too much time and too many apples on their hands. Chill out and eat some cookies!
My recipe and writing process is usually a solitary adventure, so I would like to thank local photographer Luis Valdizon of for insisting that we hunt for sugar, grinding whole cloves with my mortar and pestle, taking the beautiful finished photos, adding the cute titles, playing episodes of Bored To Death while I cursed at my apple-painting skills, being a Wes Anderson fan, too, and helping me in my quest to be just a little more "quote unquote fantastic."

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