A fun fact about me: I don’t really care for pie all that much…well, pie crust that is. I was that kid who would take a fork to my pie slice and scrape the pumpkin right out of the pie. My dislike for pie crust has waned over the years and I’ve grown to enjoy it with a hot cup of coffee or drenched in whipped cream, of course. Where I do love pie crust the most is in a dumpling. When baked over fresh apples, filled with nuts and fruit and a variety of spices, it creates the most amazing texture. Crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside with a melted sweet and buttery sauce all over it, I cannot get enough! Add a scoop of ice cream to a warmed dumpling and I’m simply in heaven!
These apple dumplings sit in a thick, caramel sauce with toasted hazelnuts. Top these with some dried fruit, extra brown sugar, more caramel sauce or eat them as they are, warmed and straight from the oven! These are so good and such a fun way to celebrate apple season.
I always like to bake from scratch but sometimes I’m in a hurry and this is perfect semi-homemade dessert that taste just as great with some pre-made pie crust. If you have the time, get fancy with it, use cookie cutters to create seasonal shapes with the excess dough and top the dumplings for an extra special touch.
If you’re looking for a gluten-free option you can try your favorite pie crust recipe using a measure for measure gluten-free flour, like Bob’s Red Mill. I’ve done this with my pie crust recipe (check it out here) and it works great! I’ve also linked a gluten-free pie crust mix I like to use below, found in the recipe box.
For the sauce:
1 ¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
For the dumplings:
Pie Crust -1 14.1-ounce refrigerated pie crust works (2 pack) or a homemade pie crust like this one:
4 small to medium sized apples (Empire, Golden, Granny Smith or Braeburn work well)
½ cup toasted hazelnuts, skins removed and chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 °. For the sauce, combine sugar, water, and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and allow to summer, uncovered for 5 minutes. While the sauce is simmering, toast hazelnuts over medium heat. When cooled, shake the skin off and chop into fine pieces. Add in butter, stirring to melt. Pour sauce into a 2-quart square baking dish (8 x 8 is perfect). Stir in chopped hazelnuts and set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out or fold pie crust. Pie crust should be rolled into an 18-inch circle. Cut out for 7-inch circles. Note: If you’re using pre-made crusts, unfold the first crust onto surface. Lightly brush crust with water. Adhere the second crust to the first one for thicker circles. If using a homemade pie crust, the circles should be about half an inch in thickness.
Peel and core the apples. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each apple to help them sit upright. On a plate or over parchment paper, fill in the center of each apple with some hazelnut caramel sauce. Wrap dough over the top of each apple, pleating the dough at the bottom. Place dumplings in baking dish on top of the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the vanilla and egg. Brush tops and sides of dumplings with egg wash. Before placing in the oven, I like to top mine with a little extra brown sugar. It gets crispy brown and adds some texture and a bit of sweetness.
Bake uncovered, for 55 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.