APPLE DUMPLINGS with Coconut Caramel

It is well known that my love of cooking was inspired by my nana, Ngaire. As a child, we visited my nana and poppa for dinner at least once a week. Without fail, my nana would prepare a three-course meal. It wasn’t fancy – a simple seasonal soup, meat and three veg, and sweet dessert. All of which was accomplished after she had completed 18 holes of golf.

The first thing I would ask Nana when we arrived for tea was always – “what’s for pudding?”. Nana’s response was the same every time – “W and S pudding”. This isn’t some fancy dessert but an acronym for “wait and see”. I would soon enough get a peek into the kitchen and work it out. I am not sure why I had to know because I loved all her puddings.

Recently I dug out Nana’s recipe book, a tome of all her little recipe notes. A hand-typed, spiral-bound book, it is even indexed, handy for when I have a food memory I want to recreate. I was looking up her Bread and Butter Pudding and came across Caramel Apple Dumplings.

I remember these fondly and, knowing my son is a savoury dumpling fan, I thought these might amuse him. I can never quite follow a recipe to the letter, instead cooking the dumplings in a coconut caramel sauce, with a nod to Samoan Panipopo – Sweet Coconut Buns. Oh my, did these go down well. I will certainly be making them again.

APPLE DUMPLINGS with Coconut Caramel & Walnuts

I have a real appreciation for heritage apples. Their complexity of flavours, and the way they soften in the heat of the oven is quite incomparable to modern hybrids. Admittedly they don't store well, so the season is shorter. They can be wrapped individually in newspaper and stored in a cool place for months. My favourites for cooking are Golden Delicious, Sturmer and Merton Russet. Granny Smith apples are the next best bet.
Servings 4 -6
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes


  • 1 ¾ cups 250g white flour (I used white spelt flour)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 80 g cold butter*, cut into 1cm cubes
  • Approximately 6 tablespoons cold water
  • 200 ml coconut cream or cream
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cooking apples – see above
  • Handful of chopped walnuts


  • Preheat oven 170 degrees Celsius.
  • In a large bowl combine the flour and baking powder. Add the cubed butter and use your fingers to quickly rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add six tablespoons of water using the spoon to mix until the dough comes together. Add a little extra water if needed.
  • Knead briefly in the bowl – don't overwork the dough or it will toughen when cooked. Cover the bowl with a plate and chill while preparing the caramel sauce and apples.
  • Combine the coconut cream, water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  • Core and peel the apples. Cut each in half across the belly of the apple.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and tip on to a lightly floured bench. Divide into eight balls. Use a rolling pin to roll a ball out into a 15cm wide circle, about 1mm thick. Place an apple half, cut side down, in the centre of the circle. Gather and pleat the dough up around the apple to create a dumpling.
  • Place in a heatproof dish – I used an enameled skillet but any dish will do that will fit the dumplings snugly. Repeat with the remaining dough and apples. Scatter the chopped walnuts in the gaps around the dumplings and pour over the caramel sauce.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes until the apples are tender – check with a small sharp knife. Baste with the caramel sauce halfway through cooking.
  • Serve warm with cream and/or yoghurt.

Join the Conversation

  1. Thank you so much for this story and recipe, I love old family recipe books and combined with heritage apples a nod to the present and so timely with the winter chill we are feeling. Perfect. As always

    1. Hi Anne, I love diving into my Nana’s recipe book and recipe notes, it always brings back memories and gives some a new meals to try. You really can’t beat the flavour of heritage apples, more tart than modern hybrids and other complex flavours. I love visiting my apple man at the market to try his selection of apples. Thanks for visiting 🙂

  2. So beautiful, loved reading this Nicola. I will gather the ingredients & make this on the weekend. Do you think leftovers would keep well?
    And any plans for Brisbane yet, I am dying to attend your cooking classes 🙏🏻☺️
    Thank you for always sharing your passion ❤️ X

    1. Hi Emily, thank-you. I love food memories, it is so much more than just the food but the places and people who were associated with this memory. When I make these I remember my Grandparents big house on the hills, and also my Poppa – who has passed away – it is special.
      Leftovers, keep very well, if they last long! I made these quite a few times to test the recipe and noticed the dumplings would reduce in numbers rather quickly 😉
      I will definitely keep Brisbane in mind, I used to live in the hinterland (Maleny) so I know the area well. It is just finding the time to fit it in!

  3. Lisa Green says:

    This looks PHENOMENAL!

    1. Hi Lisa, they are really good, not many crumbles happening around here at the moment 😉
      Enjoy! Nicola

  4. Rosie-Anne Pinney says:

    Hi Ana I remember my grandmother making these. My grandparents had two huge apple trees in their Yorkshire garden and like you said would wrap them in newspaper and give them to us in boxes come autumn. Thank you for the recipe.

  5. Wow, that looks amazing. I need to try this at the weekend. Originally I’m from Germany. This recipe reminds me a little bit of German “Apfelkuechle”. If you love cooking with apples you need to try that too.
    Thanks for this great recipe.

    1. Thanks Vanessa, I will check that out. My husband is German so I am sure he would enjoy it 🙂

  6. We love apple desserts in my family so this was a real hit. I loved the fact that the apples still remained in one piece (not stewed) and was delicious to bite into. I made the sauce with water rather than the milk and it worked fine although a bit sweet for me – not the kids though…
    In answer to the comment above about leftovers. There was a little bit left which I had for breakfast. It was just as yummy as the night before.

    1. Hi Kate, that is great to hear you enjoyed these dumplings. If using water it would be sweeter as the coconut milk softens the sauce and balances the sweetness. If you make them again you could reduce the sugar a little bit. I don’t like desserts too sweet either so can relate 😉
      Breakfast leftovers, perfect! I may have done this on occasion too…

  7. Absolutely delicious! Thankyou for this recipe, I have made it twice in the last week! I love the coconut cream sauce, I have a bit of a panipopo addiction too and it was nice to try it with something else 🙂

    1. Hi Danielle, thanks for letting me know. I love the similarity to panipopo without being overly sweet and the apple compliments the caramel perfectly. Enjoy!

  8. These are super delicious!! I made these using your gluten free pastry recipe from homegrown kitchen and they worked so well. Made twice and counting…

    1. That is so great to hear! They are firm family favourite here too x

  9. Catherine Hutcheson says:

    Would these be ok without the coconut cream and substitute cream instead?

    1. Hi Catherine, yes, you can use cream in place of coconut cream. I have also made it successfully with the cream.
      Enjoy, Nicola

  10. Hi, sounds sooo yum. I’d love to know how to make gf. I’m hesitant to play without tried and true ratios as I suspect there’s not alot of room to hide with dumpling dough!

    1. Hi Emma, I haven’t made these with gluten-free flour (I use spelt flour) as the pastry does need to be quite malleable of it will tear when wrapping it around the apples. If you were going to make it with gluten-free flour I would suggest adding some psyllium powder (1-2 tsp) to help with the dough cohesion. But as I haven’t made this particular dough I can’t be sure of the flour ratios.

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