Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding is a British classic that’s been around for at least 50 years. Its provenance is not clear, but it is often associated with the Sharrow Bay Country House in the Lake District, where it 

was being served in 1960. In the past decade, Sticky Toffee Pudding has also become relatively popular here in the U.S., and was even featured as an ice cream flavor by Haagen Daaz. I’ve seen it sold at 

gourmet stores as an over-priced frozen product, but it’s very simple to prepare at home, and will doubtless be better than any prepared product. It’s a sweet dessert – very sweet – but because it’s made 

with dates, it has a musky, complex flavor that’s very appealing. The toffee sauce that it’s doused in is made with a generous amount of butter, brown sugar and cream, and transforms the simple date 

cake into something extraordinary. Make sure you serve this cake warm, along with extra toffee sauce, and vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Makes 6 servings

Date and Ginger Puddings:
Softened butter and granulated sugar for coating ramekins
¾ cup finely chopped pitted dates (about 5 ounces)
¼ cup finely chopped candied ginger
1 ½ cups (195 gr) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
8 tablespoons (113 gr) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup (162 gr) firmly packed light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Toffee Sauce:
12 tablespoons (170 gr) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 1/3 cups (289 gr) firmly packed light brown sugar
¾ cup (6 liq oz) heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Make the cake:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the insides of six 5- or 6-oz ramekins with softened butter, then coat them with granulated sugar, tapping out the excess. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and set aside.
2. Place the dates in a small saucepan and add 1 cup (8 liq oz) water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add the chopped candied ginger and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at high speed until light, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and eggs, mixing well after each addition. Add the flour mixture at low speed, mixing just until combined. Drain the dates and ginger and add them to the batter, stirring gently with a rubber spatula to combine. Scrape the batter into the prepared ramekins, filling them between half and two-thirds full. Bake the puddings for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool slightly while you make the sauce.

Make the sauce:
5. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and bring to a boil. Stir in the cream and vanilla and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. 
6. Invert each pudding onto a dessert plate. Pour a generous amount of the warm sauce on top, and serve with either whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.