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
- 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
- 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.