A New Thanksgiving Treat

A celebration of good will between cultures occurred in 1621!

Plymouth Plantation’s “groaning board” was heavily laden with bounteous roasted fowl, fruits, and vegetables. The spread was as enormous as those thankful hearts who had gathered around the table in order to partake in the riches of the land.

Was it quintessential consumptive fare according to today’s standards, Dear Readers? More than likely not. However, Miss NiNi can almost guarantee that the food prepared was natural and organic.

In my research about fruits served at the first Thanksgiving meal, epicurious.com noted that part of the bounteous offering consisted of native fruits like plums, melons, grapes, and cranberries.

My curiosity cried out, ‘Where were the apples?’ The answer: They came in later years. The Pilgrims had brought seedlings and small plants from European apple trees which, over time, became a productive part of American agriculture.

Dear Readers, the Thanksgiving season is drenched in the dream and reality of pumpkin pie—and basically anything pumpkin. That’s not all bad. However, if pumpkin isn’t “what the doctor ordered” for your palate, apples might just “fill the bill.” Might Miss NiNi be correct, Dear Readers?

With that thought in mind, I eagerly tested a new recipe for Baked Apple Dumplings that will have your mouth watering in no time! The professionals at cookscountry.com put on their thinking caps to create a most wonderful apple dumpling recipe that is pretty much guaranteed to avoid a soggy bottom.

And…speaking about “bottoms…” When rolling and handling the tender dumpling biscuit dough, it was as soft as a baby’s bottom. ‘Why was that,’ you might ask? Note the cold buttermilk in the ingredient list. Acid in the buttermilk tenderized the flour’s gluten, and voila, the dough rolled and formed like a dream!

Not to take second place to this awesome dough was the apple. Oh dear, what variety to use? The apple testing had already been done for me. Sweeter Golden Delicious was the variety of choice as it had plenty of apple flavor yet the fruit didn’t turn into apple mush during the baking process.

But, Dear Readers, please note the professional’s suggested apple-cutting method. By using this technique of halving the apples “through the equator,” the baked apple tucked inside the golden, tender dough was firm yet not crisp. Brilliant!

What prevented these apple dumplings from having “soggy bottoms”? Smart thinking by the recipe creator. Rather than bake the apple dumplings in the syrupy sauce, the dumplings were baked solo. A caramelly apple cider sauce with a splash of lemon juice as a flavor brightener was prepared in a saucepan. Ohhh, the yum of it all!

But, this is Miss NiNi’s favorite part, Dear Readers. A delicate cinnamon sugar glaze covered a thin egg-white wash over the top of each prebaked dumpling. Every sweet bite of delicious baked dumpling included a razor-thin sparkling, crackling glaze that melted in my mouth. Marvelous!

Apples were not served at the first Thanksgiving. And it is sure as shootin’ that Baked Apple Dumplings were not either! But, Dear Readers, they can be served at your Thanksgiving feast!

If your daily schedule or baking “green thumb” deters the production of a self-proclaimed showcase dessert, let one of Miss NiNi’s hand-crafted, award-winning desserts sidle right up next to Mr. Turkey for first-place oohs and aahs at your celebration meal. It’s only a click or a phone call away. http://missnini.com/

May your blessings be bounteous!

Miss NiNi

Baked Apple Dumplings—cookscountry.com

Ingredients:

Dough
2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3 T. granulated sugar
2 t. baking powder
¾ t. salt
10 T. (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
¾ c. cold buttermilk

Apple Dumplings
6 T. granulated sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
3 T. unsalted butter, softened
3 T. raisins
4 Golden Delicious apples, room temperature
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Method:

Dough: Process flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor until combined. Scatter butter and shortening over flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to bowl. Stir in buttermilk until dough forms. Turn out on to lightly flour surface and knead briefly until dough is cohesive. Press dough into 8-inch x 4-inch rectangle. Cut in half, wrap each half tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Apples: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. In second bowl, combine butter, raisins, and 3 T. cinnamon/sugar mixture. Peel apples and halve horizontally (or through the equator). Using a melon baller, scoop out the core and seeds. Divide the butter mixture among the apple halves, filling the hollows.

Assemble Dumplings: On lightly floured surface, roll each dough half into 12-inch square. Cut each 12-inch square into four 6-inch squares. Working one at a time, lightly brush edges of dough square with egg white and place apple, cut-side up, in center of each square. To gather dough, fold the corners of the dough up to enclose the apple halves, overlapping and crimping to seal. Using a paring knife, cut vent hole in top of each dumpling.

Finish Apples: Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange dumplings on baking sheet. Brush tops with egg white and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon/sugar. Bake until dough is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 20-25 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes. Serve with Cider Sauce.

Cider Sauce

Ingredients:
1 c. apple cider
1 c. water
1 c. sugar
½ t. ground cinnamon
2 T. unsalted butter
1 T. lemon juice

Method:

Bring cider, water, sugar, and cinnamon to simmer in saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until thickened and reduced to 1-1/2 c., about 15 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and lemon juice. Drizzle over dumplings to serve. (cookscountry.com suggests: To make this sauce up to 2 days in advance, reduce the cider mixture until it measures 1-1/2 c., then refrigerate. When ready to serve, return mixture to simmer and whisk in butter and lemon juice off heat.)

Yields: 8 servings