I was looking for something to help me de-stress, so I took a break from working and pulled one of my favorite baking cookbooks from the shelf. I opened it to a completely random page and--surprise!--I had all the ingredients. Despite that, I immediately set to work looking for ways to modify it--enough to keep the integrity of the recipe yet still make it "mine." This is the result. These Wintertime Berry Dumplings are pretty enough for company and you can make them, start to finish, in less than a half hour.
A few notes before the recipe: (1) Substitute the type of berries with whatever type you like, fresh or frozen. (2) Don't fret about the type of milk you use. I used a combination of cream (I had 1/4 cup left in the carton) and half-and-half. The fattier the milk is, the richer the dumplings will be. I haven't tried this with a plant-based milk. (3) I used both vanilla and almond extract, but you can use just one of them. Do what you like! (4) Prepare the shortening ahead of time, so you can chill it before making the recipe. Any amount of chilling will be better than taking it room temp from the pantry. (5) You'll need a large skillet with a lid that fits (to enable the dumplings to both cook and steam).
Wintertime Berry Dumplings
1 (21-ounce) bag frozen raspberries
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) water
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups (8-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1-1/2 ounces) sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) cold butter, cut into dice
1/4 cup (1-3/4 ounces) cold shortening, cut into dice
1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk, half-and-half, or cream
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Over medium heat in a large skillet, combine the fruit, sugar, water, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Keep the skillet uncovered for now and bring the berries up to a simmer while you make the dough.
To make the dough: In a bowl of a stand-up mixer, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder (or whisk by hand). Add the cold butter and cold shortening into the flour and combine until the dough resembles uneven, coarse crumbs (having little chunks is okay).
Measure the milk in a liquid measuring cup, then add the egg and vanilla or almond extract, and whisk until smooth. Add the liquids to the flour mixture and stir just till it's evenly mixed (blend any dry bits from the bottom of the bowl into the dough by hand to avoid overmixing).
Drop the dough into the simmering berries by the tablespoon, then turn the heat to low and cover, simmering for another 10 to 12 minutes, or until the dumplings are cooked through. The smell of cooking berries in the winter is spectacular!
Remove from the heat and immediately spoon into bowls. Top with a dusting of ground cinnamon. To make it really rock, add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream to the dish.