Thursday, February 17, 2011

sticky toffee pudding

There are very few foods that I literally remember my first bite but, my first encounter with sticky toffee pudding is a very fond memory.  I used to travel to the UK for work and many nights I would spend alone in my hotel.  I was staying in the oh so posh Balmoral hotel in Scotland and I went downstairs in the late afternoon for some tea and a sweet.  I brought my book with me and I looked over the menu was not all that familiar with many of the items listed but, I like toffee so, I gave this sticky toffee pudding a go.  When this moist little cake arrived sitting in a puddle of toffee sauce and smothered with more all over the top and sides I was intrigued.  I cut open the warm cake and put the fork into my mouth.  I think the entire dining room may have heard my audible "mmmm oh my god mmmm yum"!  It was that good.  I basically was licking the plate.  I was so sad I shared this moment alone because I wanted to talk about it, relive it and do it all over again.  At this point in my life I had no interest in cooking or baking so, I left my fond memory behind.  Years later Brad and I were in Vail and there on the menu sticky toffee pudding.  I was so excited.  I talked up the dessert and was hoping that I would not over hype it and then it would disappoint.  It arrived and we immediately tucked into it and boy it did not disappoint.  We were now both in love with sticky toffee pudding.  This dessert will always have my heart and as of now it is in my top three desserts of all time.  I can't imagine what will push this piece of heaven on a plate off my list.  I always scan dessert menus in hopes that sticky toffee pudding and I will meet again.

sticky toffee pudding
source: sticky chewy messy gooey

2 cups pitted dates (about 12 ounces), preferably medjool, chopped
1½ cups water
1¼ teaspoons baking soda, divided
2 cups all-purpose fl our
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Toffee Sauce:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

Vanilla ice cream for serving

Lightly butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

Combine the dates and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the dates are softened and have absorbed the water. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of the baking soda. Let stand for about 20 minutes.

While the dates are soaking, sift together the flour, salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon baking soda, and the baking powder into a bowl. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and then beat in the vanilla. Stir the dates and any soaking liquid into the batter. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet batter just until combined.

Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, 22 to 28 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce: Combine the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar and butter melt together. Add the cream, vanilla, and salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens, 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and poke the top of each a few times with a wooden skewer. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the warm sauce over each cake and allow it to sink in completely.
** Cakes can be made up to 24 hours in advance.  If making cakes ahead of time.  Preheat over to 350.  Put 1 tablespoon of sauce in the bottom of each muffin cup and place the cake back in.  Put muffin tin back in the over for 5 minutes.  While the cakes are heating place a tablespoon of warm sauce on each plate.  When the cakes are reheated turn them out muffin top down so, the reheated toffee sauce runs down the sides of the cake. 
** Serve with ice cream.


That Girl said...

You have completely sold me on sticky toffee pudding.

Joanne said...

I feel kind of deprived since I've never had this before. Must try. Soon.

Cakewhiz said...

Ooooo....yummmm! Dates in a toffee pudding sounds very appealing! The picture looks sooo good :D

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