Did you pick too many apples?
Our wonderful apple season is in full swing, and after a delightful trip to the orchard this week, apple dishes began to dance around in my head as I stared at my abundant haul. The weather was sunny but crisp, definitely fall air. The leaf peepers were out in full force this Indigenous Peoples Weekend, so it was a good time to stay inside and bake.
I thought about my mother’s apple dumplings. Peeled and cored apples, encased in buttery pastry, and baked adorned with little pastry leaf decorations. They were always delicious, but I also remembered that sometimes the apples were not quite cooked when the pastry was done; Mom would scramble to cover them so they didn’t burn. So I thought a couple of changes might be in order, first of all, I cut up the apples so they would cook faster.
Lighten the fat load
I also wanted to lighten up the saturated fat load on this dish, so I substituted phyllo pastry sheets for the puff, and used olive oil rather than melted butter between the layers. In the past, I’ve found whole wheat phyllo, but no luck this time so I had to settle for white. If you can find the whole wheat, it looks and tastes pretty much the same as the white. If you haven’t used phyllo dough before, these ultra thin sheets of dough can be a bit tricky to use, and you should expect a few to break. But if you keep them covered with a dry towel and work slowly, you will do fine.
We’ll make this one again
The result was a lighter version of my mothers, with fully cooked apples, and with all the flavor and crust crunch factor of the original. It’s still a dessert, it is still sweet, but not too much and with just a bit less guilt. A celebration of our season at the end of a lovely meal. Five of us at the table got very quiet when the dessert was served. A couple sunk in the baking process, I left them in the oven a minute too long, but the flavor and texture were there and we didn’t mind a bit of the wonky.
So many apple possibilities!
Use a firm baking apple such as Cortland, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, or Empire, or mix a couple of varieties for a more unique flavor. Avoid apples such as McIntosh, or you will end up with an applesauce filling!
Let the apples shine
I’ve used just a touch of cinnamon so the apples themselves will shine, with a little enhancement from rum throughout the dessert.
These little parcels were almost as fun to look at as mom’s dumplings, and still memorable.
Apple Purses in Buttered Cider Rum Sauce
- 1 pkg. phyllo dough, whole wheat if possible
- 4 large, firm apples, about an abundant quart chopped
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tbsp. dark rum
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. white sugar
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- Extra virgin olive oil
Thaw the dough in the refrigerator, try to remember to do it the day before.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and core the apples, then chop or slice thickly. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice, dark rum, the sugars, and cinnamon, and mix everything up so the apples are well coated.
Gently open the phyllo, and place a kitchen towel over the sheets so they don’t dry out. No need to moisten the towel, this might make the dough start to stick to itself.
Remove one sheet and lightly spray with some olive oil, then sprinkle lightly with a bit more brown sugar.
Then sprinkle the dough with just a few more pinches of brown sugar.
Repeat until you have four layers, then slice the rectangle of dough in half on the long side to make two near squares.
Spoon about 2/3 a cup of the apple mixture into the middle of each of these portions. With oiled fingers, bring up the four corners and squeeze around the apple bulge until you have a little purse. The tops of the corners will flare out. Don’t worry, it will stay sealed. Place on a well-oiled baking sheet.
Continue making four more purses, then spritz with a little more oil.
Bake for 20 minutes and check. They will need another 10 minutes or so, but turn the pan at this point so they brown evenly and use your judgement when to check again. Don’t forget to set your timer.
When they are well browned, remove from the oven and let cool. Serve in a little puddle of Buttered Cider Rum Sauce below, with perhaps a scoop of vegan or dairy vanilla ice cream on the side. I chose a coconut based vanilla, and it was delicious.
Buttered Cider Rum Sauce
Since my adventure at the orchard included purchasing some freshly pressed apple cider, a sauce was definitely going to be part of this dish.
- 2 cups sweet apple cider
- ½ brown sugar
- 1 star anise
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 2 tbsp. corn starch
- 2 tbsp. dark rum
- 2 tbsp. vegan or dairy butter
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
In a small saucepan combine the 2 cups cider, brown sugar, anise. Bring to a boil, slow to a simmer, and let reduce for about 20 minutes to concentrate the flavor.
In a small bowl combine the 1/4 cup cider and corn starch and whisk.
Bring the cider back to a boil, then whisk in the cider/cornstarch mixture. Once thickened, remove from the heat, and add the rum butter, and vanilla. Mix until the butter melts, and set aside to cool slightly. It will continue to thicken as it rests.
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