4 large peaches, peeled and cut in half, pits discarded
1 cup dark brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, divided into 8 slices (1/2 tbsp. each)
2 tbsp. cream or evaporated milk
Course sugar like turbinado or demerara
Vanilla Cream Sauce:
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. corn starch
1 cup cream or half and half
3 tbsp. butter
1 dash of cinnamon
1/2 tbsp. vanilla
Mix together flour and sugar in a large bowl. Cut the butter and shortening into smaller cubes and use a pastry blender to cut them into the flour until the mixture has a consistency of kernels. Alternately, you could do this in a food processor, but be careful about mixing it up too finely.
Mix the almond extract into the water and drizzle most of the water onto the flour. Use a fork to stir the water into the flour until it begins to hold together. Use your hands to form the flour into a ball, adding more water as necessary or more flour if it’s too sticky. Knead the dough a few times until the dough is more uniform, but don’t overdo it. Divide the dough into two balls and place them in your refrigerator to chill for 15-30 minutes. The dough could be stored in the fridge overnight or up to 24 hours, but it must be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap first.
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Remove one ball of dough from the fridge and press into a square. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12 in. by 12 in. square.* Cut the dough into fourths so that you have four 6 in. by 6 in. squares. Chill the dough squares stacked between sheets of waxed paper while you repeat the process with your other ball of dough. Let those dough squares chill while you start the next step with the already chilled squares.
To assemble the dumplings you can work one at at time or prepare 4 squares at the same time. Place half a peach in the middle of a square. Sprinkle on 2 tbsp. brown sugar and a dash of nutmeg, top with a slice of butter.
Fold the corners of the pastry square over the peach, bringing all the corners together to make a four-sided pyramid. Make sure to press the edges together well, fold over and press again.** Brush with cream and sprinkle with course sugar. Repeat with remaining pastry squares.
Use a spatula to transfer each dumpling into a buttered or sprayed baking dish or high-rimmed baking sheet. Use two if you don’t have a large enough dish/sheet. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the pastries are gently browned. Remove the dumplings from the pan immediately and transfer to a wire rack (with some wax paper underneath if any of the sugar mixture leaked out) and let cool for 20-30 minutes.
While the dumplings cook (or while they cool) make the sauce: Whisk the brown sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan until the cornstarch is incorporated into the sugar. Stir in the cream.
Heat until the sauce boils and cook for another minute or two to let it thicken, stirring with a whisk.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the vanilla and cinnamon.
When you’re ready to serve the dumplings, drizzle the sauce on top (warm it up if it’s been sitting for while).
Don’t add sauce to any leftover dumplings. They can wrapped in plastic or stored in an air tight container for 2-3 days. Store leftover sauce in a sealed container in the fridge. To serve, warm up the dumplings and sauce (separately) in the microwave for about 30-40 seconds and drizzle the warmed sauce on top.