One of the most memorable desserts that I have tasted during my years in Texas has to be apple dumpling.
It seems like this year we got blessed with an even bigger bounty of apples. I wanted some apple dumplings, stuffed with a dollop of Lebanese fig jam studded with walnuts, sesame and redolent of anise and mastic.
For the crust:
- 2 1/2 cups of flour
- 1 cup of softened butter
- 1 egg yolk (from a large egg)
- 1 or 2 Tablespoons of cream
- 3/4 cups of powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla or rose water or orange blossom water
For the apples:
- 9 small apples of similar size
- 9 tablespoons of fig jam
- 9 pats of unsalted butter
To decorate: two egg yolks, beaten lightly
- First step: Peel and core the apples (try to leave the bottom 1/4 inch closed)
- Stuff the opening with a tablespoon of fig jam and additional chopped walnuts if desired
- Place a tablespoon of butter on top of each apple; set the apples on a piece of foil in a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, until the apples are soft. Remove from the oven and cool.
For the crust:
- Place the flour and powdered sugar and dash of salt in the bowl of a food processor. Run the machine 30 seconds till mixed well.
- Add the butter, cut in large chunks and process for a few seconds until the flour and butter look well mixed. Add the egg yolk and, if still dry, one tablespoon of cream (or two); when the dough starts to clump, stop the machine, gather into a ball, wrap in paper or plastic and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. (The dough can be frozen for two weeks).
- Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper. Get it as thin as possible (about 1/8 inch or 2 mm);
- Remove the top layer of paper, lay an apple on the dough, cut a circle around the apple, wide enough to come up to the sides. Seal the dough, rolling it between the palms of your hand until smoothed out.
- Do the same for all the apples, and when they are all covered, roll out scraps of dough to make the leaves. Place the leaves on the apples and score them with a knife to simulate real veins.
- Beat the egg yolks lightly in a small bowl and brush onto the apples all over if possible, in order to give them a nice sheen.
- Bake at 375F for about 20 to 30 minutes. Cool a bit. Insert a real apple stem in the dumplings and serve.
Recipe for the crust was adapted from Anahid’s Cookbook of Gourmet Cooking
Lebanese fig jam is sold at middle-eastern groceries; however, making your own with dried figs is easy and rewarding.
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