Apple Dumplings: One Recipe, Two Ways

Sometimes I love culinary exploration — digging in the pantry and refrigerator and coming out with a cornucopia of ingredients to make a familiar dish in my own, unique way.  Other times, I like a little help.  Such was the case with my attempt to make apple dumplings for the very first time.

Mon mari has been devouring and drooling over apple dumplings for as long as I have known him, so it’s a bit surprising that I haven’t been strong-armed into making them before now.

For these apple dumplings, I used a simple 6-ingredient recipe from Food & Wine.  But, like many of the tasty treats I make for the blog, I had some tweaks: I used Granny Smith apples, added extra cinnamon and ground nutmeg for more spice, I didn’t chill the dumplings prior to baking, and I did two different variations of the preparation: the first time, I cut the apples into wedges, coated them with lemon juice, and stirred them in a thick, sugary, spice sauce.  Then, I wrapped generous spoonfuls of apple wedges in puff pastry “purses,” similar to the image in the original recipe.  See my photo in the post below.

For the second variation, I stayed somewhat true to the original recipe and used a whole apple that I cored with…of all things… a melon baller.  In both variations, I had issues with the puff pastry dough “springing a leak” and oozing spiced sugar goo out onto my baking pan.  The second time, I learned from experience, and baked the apple dumplings in large, red cocottes that I also use to make mini pies.  You can view more photos of the baking dishes here.

Whichever way you choose to prepare these apple dumplings, you can be sure of one thing: there won’t be any leftovers!

Apple Dumplings
Makes 4 dumplings.  The recipe can be halved to make two portions.  Just add an extra tablespoon of sugar!

This recipe is adapted from “Apple Dumplings” from Food & Wine.com and was contributed by Quick From Scratch Herbs and Spices.  A link to the original recipe is provided above.

  1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  2 frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
  1 large egg, beaten
  4 Granny Smith apples**
  all-purpose flour, to roll out the dough

**The original recipe calls for Golden Delicious apples, but to me, the only apple for desserts is a sassy, Granny Smith green apple!

Optional: 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, if making apple dumpling “purses.”  See special instructions, below.

Equipment:
baking sheet
melon baller
pastry brush
pastry cutter or knife
rolling pin

Optional: a set of large ramekins or cocottes to bake the apple dumplings in.  Be sure to spray them with non-stick baking spray for easy clean up.

Method:
Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine the sugar with the spices in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.

Wash, peel, and core the apples.  I found that my apple corer is the type that cuts apples into wedges, so if you prefer the apple dumpling “purses” like the ones in my photo below, cut the apples into wedges.  Place the wedges into a large bowl, and coat them with 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Stir the wedges to insure they are covered in lemon juice.  This step prevents browning.

A few peeled apples. You can make the recipe for two people, which makes this dessert a great go-to for a romantic supper!

To prepare the round, baseball-size version, use a melon baller or tubular apple corer to leave the apple whole and cut a channel down the middle, removing the inner seeds and core.

Use the melon baller to begin coring each apple at one end -- making successive rounds and removing the balls of flesh as you go. You may need to turn the apple over at some point and begin tunneling back to the middle from the other end to create a channel for the spiced sugar.

Cored apples. It takes a few minutes, but the melon baller slides right through the middle of the apple -- all you need is a bit of patience.

Roll out the puff pastry sheets on a floured surface to about 13 x 13″ square.  Cut the square in half with a pastry cutter.  I like a rustic look, so I didn’t cut them down to the smaller 9 x 6″ rectangles as the original recipe does.  Instead, I used each cut half to make a dumpling.

To finish the apple dumpling “purses”:

This is a shot of the apple dumpling "purses."

Place a few spoonfuls of the apple wedges with sugary sauce on each pastry half.

Fold the corners of the puff pastry dough in towards the middle, overlapping the dough and making a “purse” shape.  Pinch the edges together to seal the dough the best you can.  This is the step where I had a little trouble with holes and leaking…the dumplings will turn out fine though — at least mine did!  Trim any excess dough.

Place the dumplings onto a baking sheet, and brush each one with beaten egg.  Skip down to baking instructions.

To finish the round apple dumplings in ramekins:

Place one whole apple onto each pastry half.

Fill the center of each cored apple with spiced sugar about 1/2 of the way up, using up all of the sugar mixture.

Fold the corners of the puff pastry dough in towards the middle, overlapping the dough and going up over the top of the apple.  Press the dough to seal the edges as best you can.  The shape of these apple dumplings is similar to fried ice cream!

Here is an apple dumpling ball. This uses the whole apple. I tried to put a leaf cut-out on the top to be decorative, but it just didn't look right! The original recipe uses leaves cut from dough scraps, but I tried to make leaves twice and they didn't turn out right either time. They looked more like round growths than pretty leaves. Oh well...

Place each dumpling in a large ramekin that has been greased with baking spray.  Brush each dumpling with beaten egg.  Proceed to baking instructions, below.

Baking Instructions:
Bake the dumplings for 8 minutes at 425°F.  Then, lower the oven temperature to 400°F and continue baking for 20 minutes more, until the dumplings are golden brown.  The original recipe cautions not to overcook the dumplings because they can burst!!

I wanted to share a shot of the sugary sauce that can come out of any holes in the puff pastry when the dumplings are baking. This is a shot fresh from the oven. How tasty!

♦♦  Serving Suggestions:  these dumplings are delicious as-is, or top them with caramel sauce, caramel-toffee sauce, chopped pecans or walnuts, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

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