In the original recipe a whole peeled apple is wrapped in each square of dough, my mom's version uses grated or shredded apples liberally laced with cinnamon. We love it that way and I follow the family tradition. I know that the apples in the photo look like they have been sitting out far too long but really, under all the cinnamon they are wearing they are still fresh. My aunt once told my mom that if it isn't brown (re the cinnamon) it isn't Merrill. I added a little oil of cinnamon to the sauce and omitted the blood but other than that this is the recipe my dad copied for my mom. The red food coloring is optional but pretty.
After the encounter with a sharp blade I finished the apple shredding with my much-loved Kitchenaid food processor. I recommend using a food processor if you have one but if you don't, grate carefully. Digits are precious and I prefer mine as integers.
(from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook circa 1955)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 drops oil of cinnamon
2 drops red food coloring
3 Tbsp butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk
5 medium apples, cored and shredded
1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar (or to taste)
Mix the sugar, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, oil of cinnamon, and red food coloring in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add butter. Set aside.
Shred the apples and mix with the cinnamon and sugar.
Sift the dry ingredients together; cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the milk all at once, stirring just until moistened. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a large rectangle - about 1/4" thick. Cut the dough into 5-inch squares.
(I got 11 'squares' - some of them weren't exactly straight on the sides but that doesn't really matter in the end and I prefer not to work the dough too much by re-rolling it.) Place about 1/4 cup of apple filling on each square. Bring corners to center and pinch edges together.
Place 1 inch apart in ungreased 9x11" baking pan. Pour syrup over the dumplings. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 35 minutes. Serve warm with cream or ice cream.