Dining Review: Stay Home for the Holidays

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One of Mary Crafts’ most treasured holiday memories is eating her mother’s caramel dumplings.

 

By Mary Crafts

Hello fellow Utah County food lovers. My review this month is a little different than usual. I like to introduce readers to both my favorites and to new restaurants in our neighborhoods, but during this glorious month of holidays, I invite you to come home.

November and December are a time of gathering for family and friends. Nothing says “I value you in my life” more than opening our homes to home-cooked heritage favorites. In an age of Uber Eats and Door Dash, as well as a plethora of restaurants in our valley, it is tempting to bypass the work of a home-cooked meal for the convenience of the commercially available offerings. Awww … the effort is much less when you eat out, but so is the love shared from our kitchens. This is why I gather my children and grandchildren every Sunday to break bread, share stories and laughter, as well as Mom’s home-cooked meal.

The readers of Utah Valley Magazine submitted recipes for family favorite desserts, and the winners have generously sharing their treasured recipes with you. I am also including my mother’s recipe for Caramel Dumplings. This rich dessert can be served with ice cream or the way we did it in the 1950s, with real cream simply poured over the top.

Even though this recipe is easy to make, my mother only made it on special occasions and holidays. I remember when we would smell caramel cooking on the stove, the entire family would come running to the kitchen! Even now, my children know it is a special occasion when I make caramel dumplings and they stand first in line even before the grandchildren. I have the trusty recipe out and ready for our night of caroling in December!

I refined my mother’s recipe slightly by first cutting the butter into the dry ingredients, and then drizzling in the milk and vanilla. A gentle hand makes the lightest dumplings, so be careful to not over mix.

At the altitude in Utah, I use 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder as well as sub the all purpose flour for cake flour if I have it in my cupboard.

I make the caramel sauce in a cast iron skillet or any oven proof pan that can go from stove top to oven. Make sure the sauce is at a full rolling boil before dropping in the dumplings and immediately transfer to the oven to finish cooking.

Share love, give time, cook in the kitchen. Embrace the holidays as never before by breaking bread together again.

Until next time, fill your lives with scrumptious food and joy.

Caramel Dumplings

Dumplings

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and sugar together. Sift flour before measuring and re-sift with baking powder. Add alternately with milk. Add vanilla. Drop by spoonful into hot caramel sauce. Bake at 350 degrees about 30 min. Serve warm, bottom side up. May be sprinkled with nuts and served with whipped cream if desired.

Sauce

  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 c. boiling water
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Use deep iron skillet or deep baking dish. Cook together a few minutes to dissolve sugar before adding dumplings.

– Eileen Boelter

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