Apple Dumplings With Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

Forget the fruit on a stick and dig into this warm, tasty dessert.

A large apple dumpling covered in bourbon-caramel sauce sits on a slate plate next to a copper fork
Photo: Greg Dupree
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
Servings:
6

You've made apple pie, you're sick of apple cakes, but you still want to make a delicious apple dessert that uses the best of the fall apples. Our solution? Apple Dumplings.

This easy baked apple dessert starts with store-bought pie dough, and with a bit of pinching makes juicy old-fashioned apple dumplings with a new school twist: Bourbon-Caramel Sauce. The bourbon adds hints of vanilla to the sweet and slightly bitter caramel sauce. These dumplings are best served hot out of the oven with a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream, but even eaten on their own, they're a gooey, warm bundle of fall that isn't just another pie.

Ingredients for Apple Dumplings with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

Most of the ingredients for these apple dumplings are baking staples you likely already have on hand, but there are a few special items you'll want to pick up.

Apple Pie Spice
From brand to brand this spice blend can vary, but generally apple pie spice is a blend of warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and clove, sometimes ginger or cardamom, too. This blend of fall spices complements apples perfectly in baked goods. Feel free to make your own apple pie spice customized to your tastes; store it in an airtight container and use it in all your favorite apple baking recipes.

Gala Apples
The kind of apples you use in baking matter. For this recipe, we went with a mild and sweet apple like Gala because we wanted an apple variety with low acidity and a pleasantly sweet taste. It is a hybrid of Golden Delicious and Kidd's orange-red apples, and has hints of vanilla that complement the bourbon-caramel sauce. If you can't find Gala, Braeburn apples are a great substitute.

Turbinado Sugar
Golden brown with large, coarse crystals, turbinado sugar is often used for finishing desserts. What makes this sugar special is that it's partially refined and contains some of the original molasses from the sugar refining process, giving it a light caramel flavor. Sprinkled on piecrust, like in this recipe, it adds both crunch and a bit of shine to the apple dumplings. If you don't have it or can't find it, regular granulated sugar can be used as well, but won't have quite the same texture or flavor.

How to Make Apple Dumplings with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

Thanks to store bought piecrusts, this dessert is a breeze to prepare.

Step 1. Make the sugar mixture

Combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and apple pie spice in a medium bowl.

Step 2. Roll out the crust

Roll 1 piecrust on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Fold in 2 sides of the circle until they meet in the center. Roll the folded dough into a 14- x7-inch rectangle and then cut it in half to make 2 squares. Repeat with 2 more piecrusts.

Step 3. Build the dumplings

Place 1 apple in the center of each dough square. Fill each apple with 1 tablespoon walnuts, 1 cube of butter, and top with 1 tablespoon sugar mixture. Brush dough edges with beaten egg. Bring dough corners up to meet over the center of the apple and pinch side seams of dough to seal. Fold dough ends over top of the apple to leave an opening.

Step 4. Create the leaves

Cut leaf shapes out of the remaining piecrust. Brush the back of each leaf with a small amount of egg, and press lightly onto top of dough-wrapped apples, being careful not to cover the opening. Place on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and freeze, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Step 5. Bake

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove apple dumplings from the freezer. Brush evenly with remaining egg, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake until dough is golden brown and apples are tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve hot with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you eat Apple Dumplings cold or hot?

They can be served hot, warm, or room temperature. We don't recommend serving Apple Dumplings cold, as cold pie crust and apple filling are just never as good as they are when warm and gooey.

Where did Apple Dumplings originate?

This old-fashioned dessert is from Pennsylvania where it's a popular Amish recipe. Apple dumplings are regularly served as dessert with ice cream or whipped cream, but they can also be served for breakfast—we won't judge if you do.

How do you reheat Apple Dumplings?

The best way to reheat Apple Dumplings is in a baking dish, covered loosely with foil, in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until warm in the center. Reheat the caramel sauce in a microwave-safe bowl or container in 15 second increments, stirring in between each increment, until loose again.

Do Apple Dumplings need to be refrigerated?

Much like an apple pie, you can leave these dumplings out (covered) on the counter for up to two days. Storing them covered in the refrigerator will prolong their shelf life to four days. The Bourbon-Caramel Sauce can be stored in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator as well, but you will need to reheat it before serving.

Can you freeze Apple Dumplings?

Yes! You can freeze both baked or unbaked apple dumplings. Freeze them on a baking sheet until firm and then transfer them to a zip-top freezer bag. Store for up to three months. The caramel sauce can also be frozen, just not in a glass jar. Transfer it to an airtight plastic container and freeze for up to three months.

Editorial contributions by: Alana Al-Hatlani.

Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1.5 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

  • ¾ teaspoon apple pie spice

  • 2 (14.1-oz.) pkg. refrigerated piecrusts (such as Pillsbury)

  • All-purpose flour, for surface

  • 6 small (6 to 7 oz. each) Gala apples, peeled and cored

  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

  • 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 (1/2-inch) cubes

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

  • ½ cup granulated sugar

  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar

  • 6 tablespoons butter

  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 2 tablespoons bourbon

Directions

Apple Dumplings

  1. Stir together sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and apple pie spice in a medium bowl; set aside.

  2. Unroll 1 piecrust on a lightly floured surface; smooth into a 12-inch circle. Fold in 2 sides of the circle until they meet in the center of the pie crust (about 3 inches on each side). Roll folded piecrust into a 14- x 7-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half, forming 2 (7-inch) squares. Repeat with 2 more pie crusts. (Reserve remaining pie crust.)

  3. Place 1 apple in the center of each dough square. Fill each apple with 1 tablespoon walnuts and 1 butter cube, and top with 1 tablespoon sugar mixture. Brush edges of dough with a small amount of the egg. Bring dough corners up to meet over the center of each apple; pinch side seams of dough to seal. Fold back dough ends over top of each apple to leave a 1/4-inch opening.

  4. Cut leaf shapes out of the remaining piecrust. Brush with a small amount of egg; press lightly onto top of dough-wrapped apples, being careful not to cover the opening. Place on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet; freeze, uncovered, 30 minutes.

  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove apple dumplings from freezer. Brush evenly with remaining egg; sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake until dough is golden brown and apples are tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes; serve with Bourbon-Caramel Sauce.

Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

  1. Cook granulated sugar and packed dark brown sugar in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to bubble and smells nutty, about 6 minutes.

  2. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter. Return to medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to boil, about 1 minute. Carefully add heavy whipping cream. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is well combined and boiling, about 1 minute. Remove saucepan from heat; whisk in sea salt and bourbon. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Updated by
Alana Al-Hatlani
Alana Al-Hatlani
Alana Al-Hatlani is an Assistant Food Editor at Southern Living where she works with the Deputy Editor to plan and write monthly print food features and stories. Before joining Southern Living, she worked as a baker in restaurants and bakeries. From cakes to cookies and everything in between, she spent 4 years covered in flour dreaming up desserts. In addition to baking, Alana has written about food for various outlets like Bon Appetit, Eater Seattle, Saveur, and Fodor's Travel.Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Alana graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a degree in journalism and a minor in food studies. She then went on to graduate from the Seattle Culinary Academy with a diploma in pastry arts. She now lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her partner and pup. When not writing, she is probably baking and vice versa.
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