For Jim

Photos by Laura Hobbs
In less than an hour, these dumplings come out of the oven beautifully browned and bubbling hot.

A few Mondays ago, several of us were gathered in my parents’ basement, chatting over beers, peanuts and the looming Snowpocalypse 2011 about love, loss and recipes. “What’s one of your favorites?” I asked our newly-acquainted friend Alan. “Well, one of my top recipes has to be White Trash Dumplings”, he replied. “Ooh? Pray tell!” I prompted. Alan told me all about these “white trash” apple dumplings, how insanely delicious they are, how ridiculously easy they are, and how the secret ingredient is none other than… good ol’ Mountain Dew.

Rolling Up

But before I go on any further about these heavenly treats, let me digress for the sake of reflection. Three weeks ago, our family lost a dear friend, Jim Kinnally. Jim was a longtime resident of Fayetteville, with firm roots in our community. He was not only a well-respected financial advisor, adored by his co-workers and clients, but he was also a member of the Knights of Columbus, a regular volunteer for several local charities, and Cubmaster of his son’s Cub Scouts pack. He was a lighthearted guy and an eternal optimist – and one you could often find with a beer and a smile at Crown Pub on Dickson. Jim was also a devoted Flyer reader and Flyer Foodie fan, who, according to his sister, Jayne, “was always too embarrassed to comment”.

Ready for Sauce

I’d known Jim my entire life. I remember his great smile, his hilarious and infectious guffaw, and his ability to entertain anyone within earshot. So that night in my parents’ basement, a small group of us sat around sharing stories and memories – and eventually, recipes. Jim’s good friend, Alan, joined us that night and told me about these kitschy apple dumplings – which seemed like something Jim would have definitely found amusing. “That’s it, I’m doing my next column on them,” I declared then and there, “And I’m dedicating it to Jim.”

Butter, Sugar & MD

So, here we are. With nothing to go on but a paper plate full of my chicken scratch of Alan’s dictations, I set out to make these little delights. The directions are about as simple as you can get, and the ingredients are so common you could probably buy them all at Walgreens or Fast Trax. However, in true Foodie fashion, I was so determined not to screw things up, that I ended up screwing things up. Note in the pictures that I didn’t peel the apples: Dumpling foul! Peel the buggers before you roll them up, or you’ll end up with something that resembles a soggy piece of tape inside your otherwise delicious dumpling. No bueno.

In less than an hour, these dumplings come out of the oven beautifully browned and bubbling hot. The Mountain Dew in the sauce is virtually undetectable, but there is a little je-ne-sais-quoi going on in there – it’s rich, perfectly sweet and oh-so-delicious. Serve these alongside vanilla ice cream, and you’ll be in seventh heaven. This one’s for you, Jim.

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Apple Dumplings

(makes 16)

Download this recipe

2 cans crescent roll dough
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 slices each
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup Mountain Dew
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
cinnamon, for dusting

Out of the Oven

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Open the cans of dough and unroll the dough onto a large cutting board or other flat surface. Using one wedge at a time, roll a wedge of dough around a slice of the peeled apple, and place in a medium baking dish. Continue with the rest of the dough and apples, arranging them neatly within the dish. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set aside.

In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, combine the stick of butter, sugar and Mountain Dew, and bring to just below a simmer – be sure not to boil the sauce. Off the heat, add the vanilla extract, and stir to combine.

Pour the hot sauce over the apple dumplings, and lightly dust with cinnamon. Place the dish in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the tops of the dumplings are nicely browned and the apples are soft. Allow to cool slightly, and serve with vanilla ice cream alongside.

* If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view all the photos from this recipe on Flickr.

Laura Hobbs
Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, see her Flyer Foodie author page. For more cooking, recipes, and other food-related inspiration, visit Flyer Foodie on Facebook.