The following recipe is based on one of the few references to an actual dish in Benjamin Franklin’s writings. He made reference in several places to Apple Dumplings being a worthy dish. Although he mentions no specific recipe, this recipe is based on one found in “The Art of Cooking Made Plain and Easy for Housewives and Maids,” published in 1745. I have adapted it to accommodate modern kitchens and tastes.
Perfect Pastry or your favorite recipe
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds or walnuts
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
A few grindings of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger root
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
6 large baking apples
Egg wash – (1 raw egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water)
Raw, Turbinado or Demerrara sugar
Make the pastry, pat into one-inch thick disks, wrap in plastic and chill. Preheat the oven to 550°. Mix the ricotta and next seven ingredients together and chill. Core the apples but do not peel. Fill the cored apples with the butter and sugar mixture and set aside. Remove a piece of pastry from the refrigerator and roll out to be a bit less than one-quarter inch thick. Cut into pieces large enough to encase each filled apple. Pinch all the edges well to seal. * Place the apples about an inch apart in a baking dish. Paint each apple with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with raw sugar. Place in the center of the oven and bake at 500° or 550° for five minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° and continue to bake for another forty to forty-five minutes, or until the apples are very tender when pierced with a slim skewer. Serve hot or cold. If you wish to really guild the lily, pour a bit of thick cream over each when served.
* You may use the scraps of pastry to cut leaves to decorate each dumpling if you wish.