APPLE DUMPLINGS with CARAMEL SAUCE
Dishing Up Maryland
by Lucie L. Snodgrass
Every fall there are harvest festivals across the state, from the Autumn Glory Festival in Garrett County to the apple festival in Darlington, at the other end of the state, which started out as a local festival more than 20 years ago. It is now one of the state's biggest fall draws, attracting 50,000 people in a single day. Dozens of nonprofit organizations sell apple treats, and along with fresh apples of every variety you'll find apple fritters, candied apples, apple pies, apple cakes of every type, and, my personal favorite, apple dumplings. Each year my husband and I go early to beat the crowds and head right to the Odd Fellows Lodge, where they sell the best apple dumplings you've ever eaten. They're served hot, and they're a meal in and of themselves. Somehow, I always manage to eat two.
• 3/4 cup (1½ sticks) cold butter
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/3 cup chopped pecans
• 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 2½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2/3 cup sour cream
• 6 medium-sized tart apples, peeled and cored
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
• 1/2 cup whipping cream
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 15- by 10-inch rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Soften 2 tablespoons of the butter and combine it in a small bowl with the sugar, pecans, 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla, and the cinnamon. Set aside.
2. Stir together the flour, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in 1/2 cup (1 stick) of the remaining butter until the mixture forms a crumbly texture. Add the sour cream and mix until the dough can be shaped into a ball.
3. Roll the dough into a 12- by 18-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface, and cut the dough into six 6-inch squares. Place an apple in the center of each square. Stuff 1½ tablespoons of the butter- pecan mixture into the cored center of each apple. Fold the dough up around the apple and seal the seams well. Place the dumplings on the prepared baking pan, not touching. Brush the dumplings with milk and prick the dough. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the dumplings are golden brown.
4. Make the caramel sauce: Heat the brown sugar, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the remaining teaspoon vanilla, and the whipping cream in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a full boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes before pouring the mixture over the apples.