Given the abundance of great apple dumpling recipes to try, I did my best to pick the best of several. I was intrigued by a baked apple with dates shared at Homemade Heaven where she had used dates to fill her baked apples. Great idea, I thought. Since I had dates, dried apricots and dried cherries in the house along with three apples, I decided to make one filled with each!
The recipe for the filling comes, in large part, from a Martha Stewart recipe. The dried fruit is first marinated in brandy. Then, the fruit is strained and mixed with flour, finely chopped almonds, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and butter. I made sure each apple was filled with as much filling as I could possibly stuff into them - and then some!
Meanwhile, a reduction syrup is made from brandy, apple juice, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and butter, oh my! I covered my apples with puff pastry, brushed with egg wash and then baked in the oven with the reduced syrup, which was used to baste the apples a few times.
They came out golden and delicious! I couldn't wait to try one. Waiting for them to cool off long enough was torture!
It was worth the wait! Unfortunately, most of the reduced syrup hardened in the baking pan so there was little left to use as a sauce for eating the apple dumplings. Next time, I'll double the sauce and reserve some for serving. The first apple I tried was the one filled with dates. It was excellent. I'll have to report back on the other two which my husband and I will eat later tonight. I'll let you know my favorite :)
Apple Dumplings with Fruit and Nuts
Makes 3 apple dumplings
3 Granny Smith apples
1 sheet thawed puff pastry
1 egg, beaten with a little water added
1 tablespoon brandy
3 heaping tablespoons dried fruit, such as apricots, dates or cherries, chopped
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 teaspoons finely ground blanched almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Syrup (double if you'd like lots of sauce):
1/8 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cups clear apple juice
1 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup brandy
1/8 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (squeeze a little extra for rubbing on apples to prevent discoloration)
Combine all syrup ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until liquid has reduced by half and has slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Set aside.
Combine brandy and dried fruit in a small bowl and allow to mariinate for 20 minutes. Drain fruit, reserving brandy and add to reserved syrup. In another bowl, combine the marinated fruit, flour, almonds, brown sugar, butter, nutmeg and cinnamon and blend together.
Peel apples and core apples remove stems and top 3/4 of core, leaving 1/4 inch intact at bottom. Rub each apple with some fresh lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Divide filling among the 3 apples, filling generously.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold the thawed puff-pastry sheet. Cut along the folds into three pieces. Roll each piece into a 9 by 4 rectangle, cutting off about 1-1/2 inches off the short end to reserve for cutting decorations. Put one of the apples, upside down, in the middle of the rectangle. Gather the four corners of the pastry and pinch them together. Pinch the edges together to seal. With a scissors, trim any excess pastry from where the edges meet and on the bottom. Repeat with the remaining pastry and apples.
Using a small knife or tiny leaf cookie cutter, cut six small leaves from the scraps of pastry. Brush the backs of the leaves with the beaten egg and attach two of them to the top of each dumpling.
Chill the dumplings for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Place the apple dumplings on a heavy baking sheet at least 1 inch apart and lightly brush them with the beaten egg.
Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove the pan from oven, and pour the reserved syrup over dumplings. Return pan to the oven, and bake 10 minutes more, basting 2 or 3 times. Continue to bake the dumplings until deep-golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve dumplings with the warm syrup.