The end of the summer growing season is pretty much here and I should be sad. My cucumbers stopped producing weeks ago, my tomato plants, jalapeños, and okra held on as long as they could, and my zucchini, butternut, and crookneck squash were more or less a disappointment. Oh well. The end of the tomatoes and no more perfect summer peaches are the things that make me saddest, of course.
But all’s well that ends well, right? Because with the end of the summer growing season comes a time that makes me almost as happy: apple season. MacIntosh apples are my hands-down favorite…I love the sweetness, the texture, and the round flavor of those small, round, red and green beauties. Philip says they taste like….apples. Bah humbug. I retaliate by telling him that his beloved IPAs taste like….beer. Turnabout is fair play, right?
Anyway, September and October mean that a fruit that I find palatable if somewhat boring the other ten months of the year is bursting with flavor and perfectly ripe. Of course, MacIntosh apples are not the only apples that I like, though I usually refuse to buy anything else in the Fall unless I’m baking (the rest of the year I find MacIntosh apples to be forgettable). For baking, Granny Smith apples tend to be the gold standard (admittedly there are other perfectly acceptable apples for baking, but these good old green apples are available in any grocery store worth its salt so why mess with a good thing?) because of their firm texture and tart flavor that refuses to be overpowered by the sweet additions to your baked goods.
As for baked goods that are delicious with apples, well, you can take your pick. Apple pie? Check. Apple cinnamon muffins? Duh. Apple cake is a perfect special occasion confection. I’ll be honest with you, though….no apple sweet makes my stomach rumble quite like an apple dumpling. While I do enjoy the packaged crescent roll wrapped goodies soaked in sugary sauce made with lemon-lime soda (and once made them myself in my Crock-Pot) I will always pick a buttery pastry wrapped apple dumpling first. I’ve made them before by wrapping an entire apple in a big piece of pie crust, but who needs to eat a dessert that large and that rich with butter? A couple of these tiny packages with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream are the perfect portion size for a weeknight dessert and they have just enough buttery brown sugar drizzle to give you some flavor without muting the taste of the apple and the pastry. Feel free to use store-bought dough if you wish, though this one from Michael Ruhlman‘s Ratio couldn’t be simpler.
What’s your favorite apple dessert?
Makes 16 dumplings
Prep time: 20 minutes (not including inactive prep time)
Cook time 30 minutes
- 6 ounces all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled well
- ¼-½ cup ice water
- 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eight wedges each
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl or a food processor. Using a pastry blender or the pulsing function on the food processor, cut the butter into the flour and salt mixture until it resembles course crumbs with several pea-sized pieces remaining. Mix in the water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together. Turn out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly into a disk and refrigerate for at least fifteen minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into a large circle on a floured surface. Cut it into sixteen wedges. Roll each apple wedge up into a wedge of pie dough and arrange in an 8×8 baking pan.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and the cinnamon and drizzle over the apple dumplings. Bake until the dough is lightly browned and the apples are softened, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream