Baked Apple Dumplings

Baked Apple Dumpling filled with Pecan Streusal and topped with ice cream

I’d never even heard of apple dumplings until about a year ago from my friend Laurie,  who has a French-Canadian background. So naturally, I assumed it was a French recipe — with all it’s appley, sugary, buttery goodness wrapped up in pastry.  Further research has done nothing but confuse me, so varied were the theories on it’s origin.  Well, whatever, I was obsessed with recreating my girlfriend’s grandfather’s recipe, since she refused to give me any idea how they were made.  Various publications have helped me to come up with this procedure/recipe.  It involves a few steps, so I suggest making your pastry the day before. (feel free to double this recipe all the way through if you want to serve 8). 

Anyway, it’s a special offering. All the components come together to create a delicious, comforting and all around awesome dessert– pecan-streusal filled apples wrapped in a flaky pastry dough, baked and served with a sweet cider sauce, topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Um, hello.

Here’s to Grandpa Latendre. Maybe she’ll let me see the recipe now.

Good For Almost Anything Pie Dough

From Baking, From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Makes one 9-inch single crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About 1/4 cup ice water

Directions
1. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing – some pieces should be the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley.

2. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 tablespoons of the water. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour, If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough does not look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.
3. Shape the dough into a 8 x 4 square,  and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling out.

mix ingredients in processor - do not overmix

add liquid and mix until dough forms, then knead a few times until it comes together

Apple Dumplings

adapted from Cooks Country Magazine

serves 4

2 Golden Delicious apples (large), peeled, cored and split in half horizontally (see picture)

4 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 tsp cinnamon

Topping

1 egg white, beaten slightly

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

Directions

Heat oven to 425 F.  Mix together brown sugar, butter, pecans and cinnamon. Peel and core apples, and slice horizontally (across it’s equator).

Roll out square of dough on lightly floured surface into a 12 inch square. Cut each 12 inch square into four 6 inch squares.  Brush edges of each square with egg white and place apple, cut side up in center of square. Pack butter/nut/sugar mixture into each apple half. Crimp together the edges at the top, and cut a vent hole.

Place parchment paper on baking sheet. Arrange dumplings on baking sheet, brush top with egg white and sprinkle with ‘topping’ sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Bake until dough is golden brown – 20 minutes or so.  Cool before eating (about 10 minutes, or you’ll burn your tongue). Serve with Cider Sauce and whipped cream or ice cream. See recipe below.

Cider Sauce

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup cider

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp butter

Directions

Bring all ingredients except butter to a boil in a saucepan and boil for 15 minutes, or until reduced to 3/4 of  a cup. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.Pour over baked apple dumplings. Dollop with whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy.

prepare pecan steusal, cinnamon sugar and egg white

after peeling, coring and slicing apples, place on dough squares

fill apples with streusal filling, brush edges of dough with egg white

wrap apples, pressing together seams and cut one or two vent holes

place dumplings on baking sheet, brush with egg white, sprinkle with sugar

bake for 20 minutes or so, until golden brown

serve with cider sauce and ice cream or whipped cream. YUM

Glazed Mini Pumpkin Scones

pumpkin mini scones

see how hard I work for you guys?

Oh, ma gah. I had some leftover canned pumpkin and wanted to make some pumpkin pie flavoured scones.  I was thinking about the pumpkin spiced latte at Starbucks.  I also made them ‘mini’ instead of huge.  They turned out tender and delicious and actually too good– I’ll be giving them away to avoid eating any more. (although I’ve eaten another one while writing this post – awesome with a cup of tea).

If you’ve never made biscuits or scones, you will quickly realize how easy they are to make.  A gentle hand and not overworking your dough is key.

I would use leftover butternut squash or sweet potatoes in this recipe as well.  Feel free to add pecans to your batter…make them your own.

From start to finish (taking the scones out of the oven) – 30 minutes….that’s pretty fast.  Wait for them to cool before glazing, then allow glaze to harden.

Pumpkin Spice Scones

makes 18 mini scones

adapted from Baking: From My House to Yours

2  1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

4 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into about 16 pieces

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin

1/4 cup cold heavy cream

1 large egg

Glaze

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2-3 tbsp milk

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F.  Line a baking sheet with parchement or a silpat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, spices, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Drop in butter cubes and toss to coat. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the flour until the butter is pea-sized and smaller (various sizes).  I squeeze the butter with my fingertips, and as soon as I feel the greasiness of the butter, I drop it back in the flour, and look for another piece to squeeze. Do that until you can’t really pick up any pieces and that should be fine.

In a smaller bowl, mix together pumpkin, cream and egg. Whisk until well blended.  Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and gently stir with a spatula until it is combined and forms a dough. If it seems quite sticky, add a little more flour.  It should be a nice soft dough.

Place dough on a floured counter and split into 3 equal pieces.  Form into discs approximately 1 inch thick. Cut each disc into 6 wedges. Place wedges on baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until bottoms are slightly browned and tops seem just firm. Cool.

Mix up glaze and spread onto scones. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Allow glaze to harden. ENJOY.

mix flour, spices, salt and sugar together

toss butter cubes in flour mixture

mix wet ingredients together, add to flour mixture

form dough into 3 discs, cut into wedges

place wedges on baking sheet

YUM YUM YUM

S’more Chocolate Birthday Cake

Here’s an idea for a birthday cake I made today. It’s a chocolate layer cake that I  made from scratch, but use your favourite chocolate cake recipe, out of a box is fine.  I melted about 15 marshmallows with 3 tbsp of butter, and added that to a pre-packaged tub of white icing. I refrigerated that until it firmed up a bit. Frosted the cake, added some crumbled graham crackers in the center and sprinkled on top. Made chocolate shards and stuck them in. Quite dramatic looking, wouldn’t you say? Quite delicious too. Serve with ice cream. Fun! Continue reading

Fruity Butter Tarts

fruit-filled butter tart with walnuts

Just when you thought butter tarts couldn’t taste any more awesome….well, they can. This recipe is inspired by my friend, Marion Ratzinger (who got the recipe from her friend…and she got the idea from her friend and so it goes 😉 ).  This is basically a buttertart recipe with added fruit and nuts. We used fresh seasonal fruit, but they taste great with frozen berries as well. We added walnuts, but feel free to use whatever you like. Customize them to your taste. They are so good! The use of store-bought tart shells makes these a snap, in fact, my 16 year-old daughter made these with no supervision. You can throw these together Continue reading

Zucchini Pecan Loaf

zuchini pecan loaf- delish

It’s that time of year again, already! Sheesh, it’s almost August and it seems like it was June about five minutes ago.  Well, the good thing is the availability of  fresh, local produce. One of my daughter’s male friends keeps bringing me giant zucchinis–so I had no choice but to figure out a great recipe for Zucchini Loaf. This one is easy, really tasty and fairly healthy. It makes 2 nice big loaves, everyone likes it, freezes well…and uses up all those zucchinis that everyone keeps dropping off! Continue reading

French Crêpes

blueberry ice cream filled crepe with yogurt and berries with lemon zest

ham and swiss filled crepe with mustard sauce

Crêpes are like very thin pancakes that you must handle a little more gently so as not to tear them. The batter is simple, but it needs to ‘rest’ at least an hour after you mix it up. They can be used in a myriad of ways – plain with maple syrup and butter, filled with fruit and cream or even used in savoury applications — ham and asparagus with a hollandaise sauce, chicken and broccoli in a cream sauce – the possibilities are limitless. The crêpes will keep well in the fridge or freezer, stacked with parchement paper in between. Continue reading

Wild Blueberry Ice Cream

wild blueberry ice cream

Hello, I’m back!  While I was up north, I was able to procure some wild blueberries from the Powassen Farmer’s Market. They weren’t cheap…but I am committed to making Homemade Blueberry Ice Cream for a personal chef dinner for 12, so I really wanted to use wild blueberries– they are smaller, taste better (as in, they actually have flavour), no pesticides and they are perfectly seasonal and so Canadian. This recipe turned out a creamy, flavour-packed delicious ice cream– and I do consider myself an expert on the subject of ice cream.  I’ll be serving this with a blueberry/lemon poundcake. I think it’s going to be a nice ending to an elegant summer BBQ.  Well, if you have an ice cream maker collecting dust in the cupboard, get it out and make some ice cream. God knows it’s hot enough, eh? I think tomorrow will be a record hot and humid day, it’s  ice cream all the way. This is super easy to make!  Who knew?

Wild Blueberry Ice Cream

from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My House to Yours

makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw and drain before using) (I used fresh wild berries)
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon (or more, to taste, or play around with limes/lime juice)
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream

*I will also be trying a dairy-free version with coconut milk

Directions:

In a medium sauce pan, bring the blueberries, sugar, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice to a gentle boil. When the mixture is boiling and the berries start to burst, about 3 minutes, remove from heat.  Cool slightly.

Pour the mixture into a blender and puree until relatively smooth (it will never be completely smooth). Pour the heavy cream and sour cream into the blender and mix until  well combined.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and chill completely in the refrigerator – probably 2 hours.

Pour into the bowl of your prepared ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.

When ready, transfer to a plastic freezer container and place in freezer to harden, at least 6 hours.

Freeze in an air tight container. (will keep well for 2 weeks in freezer)

Remove from freezer 15-25 minutes to soften before serving.  Enjoy!!!

*would be amazing with a peach pie. Or a lemon pie. Or a cake. Or by itself. Or with chocolate sauce. It tastes wonderful.

berries, lemon, sugar, whip cream, sour cream

cook berries, lemon zest and juice and sugar for 3 minutes

the base -- berry mixture with cream added, refrigerate until very cold

pour into ice cream maker for suggested amount of time

enjoy! delightfully divine and creamy and super blueberry-y.