And for dessert...
Apple Purses – Bathed in rum and brown sugar, the apples inside these little purses are bursting with seasonal flavor. Wrapped in phyllo sheets, using brown sugar and oil between the layers, they stay flakey and delicious with a little less saturated fat.

And for dessert...

Our wonderful apple season is in full swing and, after a delightful trip to the orchard this week, apple dishes began to dance around in my head as I stared at my abundant haul.

I thought about my mother's apple dumplings, made with peeled and cored apples, encased in puff pastry, and adorned with little pastry leaf decorations.

They were always delicious, but I also remembered that sometimes the apples were not quite cooked when the pastry was done. As I set out to replicate her recipe, I thought a couple of changes might be in order.

First, I cut up the apples so they would cook faster.

I also wanted to lighten the saturated fat load on this dish, so I substituted phyllo pastry sheets for the puff pastry, and I used olive oil rather than melted butter between the layers.

The result was a lighter version of my mother's recipe, with fully cooked apples and with all the flavor and crunch factor of the original. Five of us at the table got very quiet when the dessert was served.

Use a firm baking apple such as Cortland, Braeburn, Honey Crisp, or Empire, or mix a couple of varieties for a more distinctive flavor. Avoid McIntosh and similar softer apples, or you will end up with an applesauce filling!

These little parcels were almost as fun to look at as mom's dumplings, and still memorable.

Apple Purses


¶1 package phyllo dough

Peel, core, and slice thickly:

¶4 large, firm apples

Place them in a bowl and add:

¶ Juice of 1 lemon

¶2 Tbsp. dark rum

¶{1/3} cup brown sugar

¶1 Tbsp. white sugar

¶{1/4} tsp. cinnamon

Mix well, so all ingredients coat the apples.

Gently open the phyllo, and place a kitchen towel over the sheets so they don't dry out. No need to moisten the towel; this might make the dough start to stick to itself.

Remove one sheet and lightly spray with:

¶Extra virgin olive oil

Then sprinkle the dough with:

¶A few more pinches of brown sugar

Repeat until you have four layers, then slice the rectangle of dough in half on the long side.

Spoon about {2/3} cup of the apple mixture into the middle of each of these portions. With oiled fingers, bring up the four corners and squeeze around the apple bulge until you have a little purse. The tops of the corners will flare out. Place on a well-oiled baking sheet.

Continue making four more purses, then spritz with a little more oil.

(2)Bake for 20 minutes at 35o F and check. They will probably need another 10 minutes or so, but turn the pan at this point so they brown evenly.

When they are well browned, remove from the oven and let cool. Serve in a little puddle of Buttered Cider Rum Sauce below, with perhaps a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

Buttered Cider Rum Sauce

Since my adventure at the orchard included purchasing some freshly pressed apple cider, a sauce was definitely going to be part of this dish.

In a small saucepan, combine:

¶2 cups sweet apple cider

¶{1/2} cup brown sugar

¶1 pod star anise

Bring to a boil, slow to a simmer, and let reduce for about 20 minutes to concentrate the flavor.

In a small bowl combine

¶{1/4} cup cider

¶2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Bring the cider back to a boil, then whisk in the (3)cider/cornstarch mixture. Once it has thickened, remove it from the heat, and add:

¶2 Tbsp. dark rum

¶2 Tbsp. butter

¶1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

(4)Mix until the butter melts, and serve.

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