There are disadvantages to living where I do.
Stubbornly high unemployment.
Mosquitoes the size of bumble bees.
About 12 weeks – max – of guaranteed frost-free growing.
But when you hear the geese returning, and the maple sap starts running, you can forget all that.
Maple dumplings are a great way to celebrate spring – however short it may be.
Most versions of this traditional dessert are (for me) almost unbearably sweet and use a prohibitively expensive quantity of maple syrup. I’ve reduced the syrup to a manageable (but still indulgent) 1 cup, and added some brown sugar that brings a caramel-ly-ness to the sauce.
Most of the time the maple syrup you will find in stores is the lighter colored ‘Grade A’ syrup. I prefer the darker ‘Grade B’ syrup that I’m able to get directly from a local producer. If you have the chance, give the darker syrup a try – but either type will work just fine in this recipe.
If you are serving this after a heavy meal, you can cut the serving size in half to one dumpling per person. Topped with a bit of whipped cream or ice cream, you’ll still have a substantial dessert.
Some variations of this traditional dessert use all maple syrup. Using some brown sugar in the sauce makes it less over-poweringly sweet, and makes it less expensive in areas where maple syrup is less readily available. Some orange zest complements the maple nicely.
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml butter
- 3 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (approx 2 cups / 500 ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml salt
- 1 cup / 250 ml maple syrup
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml brown sugar
- 1 cup / 250 ml water
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml orange zest (optional)
- 1 cup / 250 ml whole wheat flour
- 1 cup / 250 ml all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml sugar
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml baking powder
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml salt
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml olive oil
- 1 cup / 250 ml buttermilk or soured milk
Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Melt butter and add apples. Coat apples with melted butter and add salt. Cook for one minute, stirring gently.
Add maple syrup, brown sugar, water and orange zest (if using). Stir to combine, then cover and bring to a simmer.
While the sauce is simmering, make the dumplings. In mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sprinkle olive oil over and mix into flour until it looks crumbly.
Add buttermilk and stir gently until flour mixture is moistened. Do not overmix the dumpling batter.
Drop the batter by tablespoons into the simmering sauce. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Lift the lid to check dumplings. They should be puffy. A toothpick inserted into the center of a dumpling should come out clean with no batter sticking to it.
Remove the dumplings from the heat and let them sit for 5 minutes. Serve two dumplings per serving with sauce spooned over them.
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