As I mentioned in my last post, we are hosting Thanksgiving this year and working hard at menu planning. One interesting fact about Thanksgiving with Marc’s family is that it is mandatory that there are nearly as many desserts as there are adults joining us for the meal. Marc’s mother is a great baker and his sister is a trained pastry chef so you can imagine how high the dessert bar is set. So in addition to the obligatory pumpkin pie, we have a whole bunch of great desserts planned, including this one.
Of course, many people go the apple pie route. It’s a great choice and a Thanksgiving classic. We love apple pie around these parts which is one of the reasons why this recipe is a family favorite. It has all the flavors of apple pie – the flaky pastry, the apple, and the sweet cinnamon-infused sauce – but in a neat little individual package. Because the apples are whole you save time chopping and you only have one crust to manage (which makes life just that much easier).
This recipe is the one that my mother-in-law has been making for years. It is delicious as is so we really didn’t make many changes. If you like, you could increase the spices a little bit, maybe adding a dash of cloves for a little spicy flavor. But really, this recipe is as good as it gets, just the way it is. Make sure to have some vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream on hand for serving. After all, it is Thanksgiving.
Recipe from Charlene Marino
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus additional for sprinkling if desired
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbls butter, plus more for dotting the apples
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup lard (or shortening)
1/2 cup milk
6 medium apples, peeled and cored
First, make a simple syrup by combining the sugar, water, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium sauce pan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove the syrup from heat and add 3 tbls of butter and the vanilla. Stir until combined and set aside.
To make the pastry, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in the lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk all at once and stir until flour is just moistened. Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and roll dough into a 12×18 inch rectangle. Cut the pastry into 6, 6-inch squares.
To assemble the dumplings start by placing an apple on each dough square. Sprinkle apples generously with sugar, cinnamon, and freshly ground nutmeg and dot with butter. Moisten edges of pastry, bring corners to the center of the apple, and pinch the edges together.
Place the wrapped apples about 1 inch apart in an ungreased baking pan. Pour syrup over dumplings and sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar if desired. Bake in a 375 degree oven until the apples are tender, about 35 minutes.
Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or ice cream. Serves six. Recipe can be doubled. Also, if you want your dumplings really saucy, feel free to double the syrup.