Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Sticky Situation: Sticky Toffee Pudding

So I'd invited a friend for dinner, and while I wondered what to make for the main course, I knew I wanted to serve something special for dessert. I thought about Sticky Toffee Pudding, but there was a slight hitch - my recipe makes a full 9 x 13 pan of the stuff, which (even for me) is a bit excessive for just two people. But I really liked the idea, and hadn't had it in a long time myself, so there was only one solution - try making a smaller batch! Thankfully, it worked a treat:

Sticky Toffee Pudding cake

Sticky Toffee Pudding

For the date cake:
1/2 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the sticky toffee sauce:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir the chopped dates and baking soda together in a small bowl; add boiling water and mix to combine. Let stand while preparing the other ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom, if using. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then mix in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until combined, then blend in the date mixture until the batter is smooth. Scrape into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until evenly golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, combine the brown sugar, cream, butter and salt for the sauce in a large saucepan. Stir to melt and combine over medium-low heat, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

When the cake comes out of the oven, let stand for about 5 minutes, then prick all over with a toothpick. Pour the sauce evenly over the cake, using the back of a spoon to spread it around (you can reheat the sauce gently over low heat if it has started to thicken while waiting for the cake). Serve warm or at room temperature with additional heavy cream or vanilla ice cream.

Notes: The cake can certainly be made on its own and served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream; the toffee sauce can absolutely be made separately and poured over ice cream as well! Though I haven't yet tried it, I imagine other dried fruits could be substituted, like apple, pear, or even fig - sticky figgy pudding for the holidays??? :-)


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