Baked Apple Dumplings with Caramel Sauce

I spent a huge chunk of the day in the kitchen yesterday whipping up new treats and even prepping tonight’s dinner since today is crazy busy. In some ways it was the best kind of day in the kitchen – not a single recipe fail, and weather that was cool enough to basically leave the oven on for 8 hours without turning the house into a sauna.

On the flip side, I somehow managed to cut myself 4 separate times. I’d like to blame the new (much sharper) knives, but it probably had more to do with my carelessness. Either way, it felt like the universe’s not so subtle message that I should call it a day and watch some football :) And I did, but not until I put the finishing touches on the dessert I’d been looking forward to all weekend, these apple dumplings.

Baked Apple Dumplings with Caramel Sauce

If there’s anything better than a cinnamon-sugar stuffed apple wrapped in biscuit dough and baked until golden brown, then topped with a gooey, sweet caramel sauce, I’d love to know what it is. These dumplings were out of this world good! The apples are cooked through and tender, but not at all mushy, and the pastry so buttery and flaky. And because Shane doesn’t eat apples, they’re all for me! Dumplings for breakfast and dessert this week? Oh yes, I think so.

I know the recipe looks long, but that’s because I’m wordy, not because it’s difficult. Promise. You could even make the caramel and dough ahead of time to break things up. Just one other thing – these dumplings really are best warm from the oven. If you can’t serve them immediately, reheat them briefly in the microwave for the next best thing.

Baked Apple Dumplings with Caramel Sauce

Baked Apple Dumplings with Gooey Caramel Sauce
dumplings from Cook’s Country, October/November 2009, caramel from Cook’s Illustrated

{Note: I halved the dumpling recipe without a problem.}

Caramel
1/4 cup heavy cream plus 2 additional tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
3/4 cup cold buttermilk

Apples
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons raisins, coarsely chopped
4 Golden Delicious apples (Braeburns and Galas would work too)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

To make the caramel sauce: Stir the cream and salt together in a small bowl. Add the water and corn syrup to a 2-qt saucepan. Pour the sugar into the center of the pan, careful not to let it touch the sides of the pan. Very gently stir the mixture to moisten the sugar. Cover the pan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook, still covered and without stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the liquid is clear, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the cover and continue cooking (no stirring) until the mixture turns a faint golden color, another 3-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the caramel is amber and registers 360 F on a candy thermometer. Take the pan off the eat and add the cream – the caramel will bubble vigorously so be careful. Use a rubber spatula to stir to incorporate. When the bubbling subsides, add the butter and vanilla, and stir until well combined. (Note: you can make the caramel ahead of time. It will firm up as it sits, but 30 seconds in the microwave will make it fluid again.)

To make the dough: Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and shortening, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal – the pieces of butter and shortening should be about the size of small peas. Dump the mixture into a large bowl. Add the buttermilk, and stir with a fork until a rough dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead a few times until the dough is cohesive. Shape into an 8×4-inch rectangle and cut in half. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour (I left mine in the fridge overnight and it was fine).

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Stir the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, stir the butter, raisins and 3 tablespoons of the cinnamon-sugar together. Peel the apples and cut them in half horizontally (through their equator). Use a melon baller or a teaspoon to remove the cores and hollow out the centers of the apple halves – make sure you don’t pierce the bottom.

Baked Apple Dumplings

Divide the butter/raisin mixture evenly among the apples and pack it in.

Baked Apple Dumplings

To assemble: Working with one half of the dough at a time, roll it into a 12-inch square on a lightly floured work surface. Cut into 4 equal 6-inch squares. Brush the edges of one of the squares with egg white, and place an apple (cut side up) in the center. (Obviously, the edges of the squares don’t have to be perfectly straight…)

Baked Apple Dumplings

Fold the corners of the square up and over the apple (sort of like you’re wrapping a present). Press the edges together to seal (this does not have to be perfect or pretty – it’ll be the bottom of the dumpling).

Baked Apple Dumplings

Baked Apple Dumplings

Turn the dumpling over so the sealed edges are on the bottom, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cut a small vent hole in the top. Repeat with remaining squares and apples.

Brush the tops of the dumplings with egg white and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar over them. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the juices are bubbling. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving. These really are best warm – if you have to let them sit, pop ‘em in the microwave for 20 or 30 seconds before serving.

Makes 8 dumplings