Recipe: Brown Sugar Dumplings with Vanilla Cream

 

My Nana’s cooking was a central part of my childhood and surrounds almost every memory of growing up. From holidays to Sunday dinners, to the soups and stocks that would simmer all day long to the ethnic Slovak cuisine she would (try to) educate me on, Nana had a story and a reason for everything she did in the kitchen. Like so many other women of her time, she never really worked off of a recipe. Everything was done with a pinch of this, a handful of that, knead until it feels like *this* and so on. That’s why I was surprised (and thrilled), after she passed away, to find a small box of recipes among her belongings. What a great treasure! Even though it’s only a tiny repertoire of her great cooking, I’ve been enjoying  cooking and baking them up, cherishing the connection that ties us together through these tiny cards.

Brown Sugar Dumplings with Vanilla Cream

One of the recipes that she had written out were for these Brown Sugar Dumplings. My grandfather loved dumplings, so my grandmother made them often, both sweet and savory. I updated her version just a little, making a few small tweaks here and there, the same way she would with so many of her favorite dishes.  I also used vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract. I rarely have vanilla beans on hand, but I had one stashed away far back in the cabinet leftover from Christmas baking. I love how fresh vanilla gives these dumplings and the cream a fragrant, subtle flavor, but using vanilla extract is a fine substitute if you don’t happen to have any vanilla beans on hand.

Brown Sugar Dumplings with Vanilla Cream

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Dumplings with Vanilla Cream

These are so ooey-gooey delicious!  I could eat them all day long.  The dumplings are crisp on the top and soft and gooey on the underside. The syrup has just the right amount of sweetness without becoming overly sugary, and the cream perfectly balances out the bread and the warm syrup with a light, frosty texture.  They’re great as both a brunch dish or as a dessert.  And by the next day (if there are any left), the dumplings are still delicious, yet a bit softer, and the vanilla cream is a bit thicker – simply heavenly with a big cup of hot coffee and lots of sunlight streaming into the kitchen.  Oh, and my kids are so silly – they saw me making up the vanilla cream, and by the time I was finished whipping it up, they were both their in the kitchen holding a spoon.  They love the vanilla cream – I think if I let them, they would eat the entire bowl of it. 

Brown Sugar Dumplings with Vanilla Cream

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Dumplings with Vanilla Cream

To add a little bit of a contemporary spin to my grandmother’s handwritten notes, I downloaded a recipe card plugin to make printing it out easier.  Forgive me if it’s not quite perfect yet!  I think I’ve got the hang of it, my first draft of this came out as taking 40 hours to cook and making only 3 dumplings.  Eeek!  Anyway, now you can review the recipes I post and save them, and I’ll be updating my other recipes soon as well.  I like to think of this as the modern day style of hand-copying recipes from index card to index card – from my kitchen to yours; from my Nana’s old recipes to your stovetop. I can only imagine, 30 or 40 years ago when she was writing these down, what she would have thought if I told her that in a half century her handwritten recipes would be available for the world to see.  The thought never ceases to amaze me.

Anyway, I’m hoping you’ll love these dumplings as much as my family does!  Please stop back and review them if you make them, I’d love to hear your feedback!

~Mellie ★ 

Old Fashioned Brown Sugar Dumplings with Vanilla Cream
Yields 42
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Cook Time
40 min
Cook Time
40 min
For the Syrup
  1. - 1 cup brown sugar
  2. - 2 cups water
  3. - 1 T butter
  4. - pinch salt
  5. - pinch vanilla beans (or 1/8 t vanilla extract)
For the Dumplings
  1. - 1/2 cup brown sugar
  2. - 3/4 cup milk
  3. - 1/4 vanilla bean ( or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  4. - 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. - 1 T butter
  6. - 2 cups flour
  7. - 1 c chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts)
For the Vanilla Cream
  1. - 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream (should be cold)
  2. - 1/4 vanilla bean ( or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  3. - 2 T white sugar
  4. - nutmeg for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. To prepare vanilla, carefully cut half of a vanilla bean open lengthwise. Using a small spoon, carefully scrape out the vanilla beans. Place in a small dish for use. Save the empty vanilla pod for making your own vanilla extract or by sticking it in your sugar bowl to give your sugar a slight vanilla flavor.
  3. Start by toasting the chopped nuts: on a stovetop in a dry pan, heat the nuts over medium heat for a few minutes until the nuts are fragrant. Remove from heat onto a ceramic plate to cool.
  4. Bring syrup ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook and stir for a 5 minutes or so until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  5. Combine all dumpling ingredients, including cooled nuts and mix. Mixture will be very crumbly. Use your hands to knead the dough together, and then roll into small balls, around 3/4”. Grease a 9x13” pan and carefully pour syrup mixture in. Gently drop the dough balls into pan in syrup.
  6. Cook for 40 minutes until dumplings begin to turn golden.
  7. While cooking, prepare the whipped cream: Empty heavy whipping cream into a large bowl. With an immersion blender, beat cream for 5 minutes or so until it thickens. Add vanilla and sugar and beat until combined.
  8. Remove dumplings from oven after 40 minutes and dust gently with nutmeg. Spoon dumplings into serving dish and top with vanilla cream.
mellie blossom http://www.mellieblossom.com/

3 Comments

  1. Mandy K.

    Oh yum, yum, yum! These look SOOOO good!

  2. Kris

    I will definitely be making these! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  3. Jo Ann

    My grandmother made brown sugar dumplings that were very similar to this. I don’t think she ever made vanilla cream, but it looks like it would go well with the dumplings. I’ll be sure to try this recipe and see how similar it is.

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