Dumplings for Dessert: Crispy Cream Cheese Wontons With Caramel-Nutella Sauce

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Wontons stuffed with sweet cream cheese in cinnamon sugar with Nutella-dulce de leche dip are irresistible. [Photographs: Morgan Eisenberg]

Store-bought wonton wrappers are an amazingly versatile staple to keep in your freezer. Whether they're stuffed with veggies and steamed, packed with pork and simmered into soup, or filled with crab meat and fried, I can hardly keep my hands off of them long.

Savory fillings are common enough, but wontons are all too often forgotten in the dessert department.

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When my sweet tooth takes hold, I want my desserts to be stuffed, sugary, dippable, and dripping. I want big flavor in small packages, and I want it fast. That's why cinnamon sugar cream cheese wontons became an instant favorite of mine. They come together in just 30 minutes and are the perfect sweet treats. Dip them in Nutella dulce de leche sauce for a dessert dumpling that you just can't resist.

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The key to keeping the process quick and easy is using store-bought wonton wrappers, which can typically be found in the refrigerated or produce section of any major grocery store. Pre-made wrappers aren't fussy at all, as long as they're kept from drying out. I put a lightly dampened kitchen towel over mine as I work to prevent them from becoming chalky or cracking.

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I initially wanted to make a no-bake cheesecake mixture to fill the wontons, but after frying up a test batch, I realized that the added gelatin I used to stabilize it was no match for the heat of the deep fryer. The "cheesecake" burst out of the wonton wrappers instantly, so I tried a simple combination of cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract on my second go. Much to my delight, I found that the mixture creates the cheesecake flavor with a fraction of the work and none of the explosiveness.

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To make sure the cream cheese doesn't seep out of the wontons as they fry, I use my finger to moisten the edges of the wrappers with egg wash as I fold them. I like to fold mine diagonally to create a triangle and then cross over the two outermost corners, but there are dozens of ways to fold wonton wrappers. Feel free to get creative, as long as you're sure to seal your edges as you go.

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After all of the wontons have been filled and folded, I fry them until golden in oil heated to 350°F. Typically, I want fried wontons to be crunchy, but these are more enjoyable when crisp but still slightly chewy, which takes about 30 seconds. This way, the texture lends itself to the churro-like cinnamon and sugar coating.

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In order to get an even coat of cinnamon and sugar, I toss everything together in a paper bag and shake. The oil from frying will make the mixture stick, and then they're ready to be scooped out and served. For dip, I combine dulce de leche, Nutella, and heavy cream and microwave it until smooth and pourable.

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Like I said: irresistible.

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