A Dessert to Remember

Dessert to remember

Photo courtesy of Emma Goldsmith on Unsplash

What’s your favorite brand and flavor of ice cream? Mine is homemade butterscotch  ice cream by Little Man Ice Cream. I’ve eaten it a total of ONE time. Here’s the problem: Little Man is in the Denver area and I live in Virginia. I know I have at least one reader in the Denver area. Please…go have a scoop in my honor.

My husband and I were on the Amtrak California Zephyr traveling from Chicago to Sacramento. The only place the train stopped long enough for passengers to disembark was Denver’s Union Station. It was a  warm afternoon, and we had about two hours before the train would pull out.

Inside the train station, we found Milkbox Ice Creamery which sells Little Man ice cream products. Among many tantalizing flavor options was butterscotch.

I think I embarrassed my husband. I kept moaning in ecstasy as I placed one delicious spoonful in my mouth after the other.

I didn’t want the moment to end. It was a dessert to remember.

We had an earlier dessert moment in Yellowstone National Park in the early 1980s. On a prior trip to Yellowstone, we had eaten at a restaurant that had the best homemade apple dumplings ever. EVER. We couldn’t recall the name of the restaurant on this subsequent trip so we kept driving around the general area hoping we’d remember it when we saw it.

Finally, a park ranger informed us that the place we were searching for had burned down the year before. Noooo! Say it isn’t so!

Years later in 1992 when I told my good friend Cindy this story, her face lit up. She was willing to share her mother-in-law’s apple dumpling recipe which she felt sure would tickle our taste buds. It did and still does.

Cindy gave me the OK to share her late mother-in-law’s recipe with my readers. So from Mary Grace’s best recipes collection, here it is with my adjustments. Because I don’t know about you, but I tweak most recipes.

I’m starting off with a few advisories:

I cheat and use the Pillsbury refrigerated premade pie crusts. One package (two crusts) makes four dumplings. So the ingredient amounts below will make four dumplings. If you’re a whiz at making pie crusts, make two pie crusts. And don’t judge me.

You’ll need enough peeled and cored apples to make however many dumplings you’re baking. Wow, that was helpful. Since apple sizes vary, it depends. Generally, three medium-sized Granny Smith apples make four dumplings using the premade crusts. Mary Grace used Summer Rambo apples.

Before you work on the apples, start the syrup on the stovetop in a saucepan. Since we like our dumplings very juicy, this is double the amount that Mary Grace used:

SYRUP:  Combine 2 cups of water, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons of butter, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg in a saucepan. When you’re ready to pour the syrup over the dumplings,  bring the mixture to a boil over medium heatand let boil one minute.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

DUMPLINGS:  Cut each of the two crusts in half so you have four pieces.

Peel, core, and cut the apples into medium to large bite-size pieces. Divide them up among the four pieces of piecrust, placing the apples in the middle of each piece.  Sprinkle a little granulated sugar, a bit of cinnamon, and add a “pat” – one teaspoon – of butter on top of each dumpling.

Then fold up the edges of the dough to cover and seal in the apples. Don’t overstuff each piece of dough; doing so will cause the dumpling to break open while baking.

Place the dumplings in a 9×13 cake pan. Four fit nicely in this size pan.

Now gently pour the hot syrup directly over and around the dumplings.

Do not cover. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes until the dough is lightly browned.

Serve warm with a spoonful or two of that tasty syrup poured over your dumpling and then add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Trust me…this too is a dessert to remember.

Hmm…I wonder how dumplings would taste with butterscotch ice cream?

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Milkbox Ice Creamery

Little Man Ice Cream

 

Summertime Peaches

Photo by Ian Baldwin on Unsplash

Each summer when my children were growing up, we took extended family vacations to Nags Head, NC. Babies, toddlers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles…whoever could make it showed up. As my children became teens, my grandsons joined the mix.

Restaurant meals for that many people could ring up quite a tab, so we were sure to book rental homes with well-stocked kitchens that enabled us to eat most of our meals at the house.

My husband and I took turns doing most of the cooking with help from the others, but there was a dessert we could count on being made at least twice during the week: my mother-in-law Rosalie’s peach cobbler.

Rosalie had a knack for choosing peaches at the perfect stage of ripeness. In the afternoon while the children napped, she’d stand at the kitchen sink peeling and slicing the peaches into a large glass measuring bowl. After adding sugar and turning the peaches so they each received a little sweetness, she’d cover the bowl and set it in the refrigerator for several hours.

After dinner and dishes were done, Rosalie would make the simple batter for the cobbler. Then into the oven it went. We’d play Uno or dominoes for the fifty minutes it required to bake to a light golden brown on top.

The adults would surreptitiously watch the clock or the timer, trying to avoid being caught by the others. The children would ask over and over, “How much longer?!”

Finally it was done but was too hot to eat immediately. We were tortured for another ten minutes or so, filling the time by taking orders for who wanted theirs a la mode or with milk or a cup of coffee.

That aroma! Studies show that the sense of smell can evoke strong memories. And I believe it. The aroma of a freshly baked cobbler takes me down the lane of beautiful memories spent with people who loved each other and weren’t embarrassed to show it.

I treasure that small margin of time we shared over the years.

So do I have you considering a run to the store for peaches? Please wipe the drool from your lips before you go.

It would be quite rude of me not to share Rosalie’s recipe with you. And yes, I just had some.

Rosalie Thatcher’s Peach Cobbler

4 cups of very ripe peaches (but not too soft), peeled and sliced into thin layers into a large glass bowl (usually about six medium peaches)

1 cup sugar gets poured over the sliced peaches. Turn them over so that each piece gets some sweetness.

Cover and refrigerate for several hours so that the peaches make their own juice. Stir them around a few times.

When you’re ready to bake, turn on oven to 325 degrees.  Melt ¼ cup (half a stick) of butter in a 9 x 13 rectangular glass cake pan while oven is preheating. Keep an eye on this; remove pan as soon as the butter has melted. Remember that the pan is hot!

Batter:

In a separate bowl, mix by hand:

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ cup of whole milk

When oven has reached 325, pour the batter evenly into the pan. (I make long lines just because Rosalie did.)

Then spoon out the peaches onto the melted butter and the batter. Use it all, even the juice. The juice cooks into the batter.

Bake 45-55 minutes, just until it turns light golden brown on top.

Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

And think of Rosalie and me while you’re licking the spoon from your last bite.