Old-fashioned autumn desserts, like apple dumplings, are memory makers. Just about, anybody with a grandma who liked to cook seems to remember eating these as a child. To-die-for apple dumplings are easy to make and short cuts are there if you use some handy kitchen tools, like apple corers and peelers. Pre-made pie dough crusts shortens preparation time, too, and with a relatively short bake time, apple dumplings can be placed in the oven before supper and be ready to eat by the time you're finished. I like to use small three-inch McIntosh apples for making apple dumplings. McIntoshes bake up tender without falling apart and their smaller size make them ideal for wrapping inside squares of rolled pastry. Apple dumplings are like individual servings of apple pie, scrumptious served warm from the oven with scoops of ice cream. If you've never eaten an apple dumpling, try one soon. They could well become your favorite dessert and best all around treat of the season.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 (3-inch) McIntosh apples, cored and peeled*
Pastry for 1 (9-inch) pie crust, homemade or pre-made
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon spiced rum (optional)
Demerara, or other coarse-grained sugar, for sprinkling on top of apples
Ice cream for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface and trim to a 14-inch square; cut the square into four even 7-inch squares. In a small mixing bowl, mix the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, apple pie spice, nutmeg, and salt into a paste. Remove half of the past mixture into a small saucepan; set saucepan aside. (You will use one portion of the paste for filling apples and the other for making the sauce.) Cut apples in half. Supporting apples halves with your fingers, fill each apple center with an equal amount of the paste mixture remaining in the mixing bowl. Place each filled apple in the center of the dough square. Fold the corners to center of the top of each apple and pinch the edges together (moisten with some water, if needed) to seal the seams. Place the dumplings in the prepared baking dish, at least 1-inch apart; set dish aside. Add the apple juice, granulated sugar, and rum (if using) to the saucepan containing the paste. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and pour sauce over apples. Sprinkle tops with Demerara sugar. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm in individual serving bowls with ice cream, spooning sauce from baking dish over all. Makes 4 servings.
*Kitchen Ade Note: To keep apples from turning brown after they are peeled, place them in a bowl of ice water with a splash of lemon juice. Drain apples and dry with paper towels before using.
Adapted from "Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Ice Cream," by Mary Goodbody (Simon & Schuster, 2003). Used with permission.
1 cup fresh pumpkin pure or canned unsweetened pumpkin pure*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
5 large egg yolks*
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon bourbon
In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin pure and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, over medium heat, combine 1 1/2 cups of the cream and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 cup cream and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve. Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth.
Pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes.
Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard.
Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the bourbon during the last minute of churning.
Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving.
Makes about 1 quart.
*To make your own pumpkin pure: use 1 large or 2 medium sugar pies or other eating (not field) pumpkins. Cut out the stem and quarter the pumpkin lengthwise.
In a preheated 400-degree oven, bake the quarters, cut side down, in a shallow roasting pan with a little water in the bottom until tender, about 1 hour.
Let cool, scrape out the seeds, cut the flesh from the peels, and force it through a medium-mesh sieve or the medium disk of a food mill.
Freeze any leftover pure for up to 2 months.
*Kitchen Ade Note: I like to scoop out the membranes and seeds from pumpkins before baking. When using frozen pumpkin pure in recipes, be sure to thaw and drain thoroughly. For safety, use pasteurized egg yolks.
Recipe source Golden Kernel Pecans, submitted by Jim Snow, Bluffton, S.C.
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten*
1 1/2 cups half & half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small skillet, over medium heat, saut pecans in butter until browned, stirring frequently; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, over low heat, stir brown sugar, eggs, and half and half until smooth. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook for 2 minutes*.
Remove from heat and stir in cream, vanilla, and pecans. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.
Makes about 1 pint.
*Kitchen Ade Note: For safety, use pasteurized eggs. When cooking custard mixture, do not allow to boil, or you will end up with scrambled eggs.)
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