The availability of fresh seasonal produce becomes more limited as the days grow shorter and cooks must rely on late season produce and shelf stable spices to bring meals to life.  The advent of autumn always brings out my kitchen creativity.  Thoughts of cooler evenings, blazing bonfires and cozy sweaters inspire moan-inducing dishes that remind diners autumn is the season for enjoying food in bold and unexpected ways.  

I picked up a few luscious apples to greet fall and my thoughts turned to the time honored tradition of serving apple pie with a wedge of cheddar cheese.  What seems like an unlikely combination works beautifully because opposites attract on the plate just as they do in life. Striking a savory-sweet balance in a batch of apple pie inspired dumplings is an ideal way to honor the equinox and bring the flavors of the season to the table in a whimsical manner.  

The addition of bacon may seem slightly out of place in this apple focused dish, but the stick-to-your-ribs meat offers a much needed salty element to an otherwise sweet nibble just as cheddar cheese compliments a traditional pie.  The unexpectedly sweet addition of caramel sauce helps the crunchy nuts and pungent thyme leaves adhere to these savory dessert dumplings like glue. 

Even better, these inspired little bites are an appetizer and dessert in one.  

Cheers to the start of a delicious season of eating!

Autumn Caramel Apple Bacon Dumplings (yields approximately 1 dozen dumplings or 4 servings)

For perfect results use a non-stick skillet with a tight fitting lid to cook these decadent dumplings once they have been formed.

  • 2 Slices of bacon
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and diced into ½” cubes
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water
  • 1 dozen round wonton wrappers
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Tablespoons of Canola Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

Garnishes: Chopped peanuts, sliced raw apple, thyme springs and caramel sauce 

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy and discard all but one tablespoon of the dripping. Drain the bacon on paper towels and crumbly or chop into small pieces (if the bacon is too large it may poke holes in the delicate wrappers).

Sauté the diced apple in the reserved bacon drippings over medium heat until very tender; about 8 minutes. Mix in the cinnamon, thyme leaves and brown sugar before adding the cornstarch and water mixture.  Cook until the corn starch thickens the juices in the pan; about 1 minute. Mix in the crumbled bacon and allow the filling to cool to room temperature.

Crack the egg in a small dish and beat lightly. Lay six wonton wrappers on a work surface and place a scant tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper. Dip a finger into the cracked egg and run the coated finger around the edge of ½ of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling to form a half moon shape. Make sure the egg seals the edges together and pleat if desired. Stand the dumpling up on their flat side. Repeat with the remaining six wrappers.

Heat the oil in a clean non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot place the dumplings sealed side up in the oil. Cook the bottoms until golden brown and crispy; about 1 minute.  Holding the lid over the pan to protect yourself from spatters, pour 1/3 water into the pan.  Cover tightly, reduce heat to medium allow and allow the dumplings to steam for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and allow any remaining water to evaporate.

Remove the dumplings to a platter. Sift some powdered sugar over the dumplings and garnish the plate with the chopped peanuts, sliced apple, thyme springs and caramel sauce.  Enjoy at once.

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