Sticky toffee pudding is something I fell in love with even before I took my first bite. This British dessert is a warm, moist brown sugar cake lightly scented with vanilla, studded with plump dates, and topped with a luscious toffee sauce. 100% Yum! It just sounded so good I didn't need any more convincing after reading the description. And now that we're in the middle of Autumn, there's something so comforting about spooning into a warm, gooey dessert like this one. I didn't have dates so I used dried figs (shh... no one has to know), which no longer makes it an authentic sticky toffee pudding but it was nevertheless a delicious variation. Let's pretend I made it with dates so I can call it sticky toffee pudding because I like the name. The cake is light on butter and sugar but the toffee sauce more than makes up for that. Decreasing the amount of sugar in the cake prevents the whole dessert from being toothachingly sweet. Be careful with the toffee sauce though, it's so darn irresistible you may find yourself eating spoonful after spoonful. So better be safe and make a double or triple batch because the sauce can be used on other cakes and as a topping for ice cream. If you cook the sauce even longer, it will be thick enough to use as a filling for sandwich cookies.
- According to Cook's Thesaurus, since the dates are being chopped up, use cooking dates rather than dessert dates because those are meant to be eaten whole. Many recipes recommend Medjool dates.
- The batter can be divided into 6 ramekins for the perfect serving size, but you can also bake 12 mini cakes in a muffin tin or a larger cake in a round pan or 8 x 8 inch square pan and cut it into pieces.
- I couldn't figure out why recipes call for adding baking soda into the water with the dates (the leavening power of baking soda dissipates when it hits the hot water?) but I used a little in my recipe anyway.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
6 oz dates, chopped
1 C boiling hot water
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 C brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 C AP flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C heavy cream
4 Tbsp butter
Roughly chop your dates with a knife or in the food processor and put the chopped dates in a heatproof bowl. Heat up one cup of water to a boil and pour this over the dates. Swirl in the baking soda, cover the bowl and set aside and let it cool for about 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter your baking dish; a muffin pan, ramekins, or a square or round cake pan would all work.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. Cream the butter and brown sugar. Then add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until evenly mixed. Before adding the dates, make sure the liquid has cooled down since you don't want to cook the egg. Add the date mixture liquid and all and mix. Then using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients. Mix until there are no streaks of flour but do not overmix.
Divide the batter among the muffin tin, ramekins (it might not look like enough batter for 6 ramekins but the cakes will puff up in the oven), or spread it evenly into a square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. For my 7 oz. ramekins, it took about 25 - 30 minutes. Muffin size cakes will bake faster, and a larger dish will take longer, maybe 35 - 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan add the brown sugar, butter, and cream and bring to a simmer. Simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce has slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the baking dish (slice cake into pieces if needed). Poke a few holes into the cake and spoon some of the toffee sauce onto each cake. Let the sauce soak in and serve the cakes warm, ideally with a side of vanilla ice cream.