Is it too soon? Is it too soon to think about making something so decidedly decadent like this sticky toffee pudding? Most of us probably spent the week removing the clothes from our treadmills and banishing butter from the diet. Heck I only ate bacon once this week, which is really saying something. Ah yes, January. The time to put diet and fitness goals into focus. Does it count if I ate big, yummy salads everyday, if only to combat the fact that I was also consuming sticky toffee pudding for dessert and sometimes breakfast? I should feel guilty, but I don't. Instead, this dessert makes me all warm and fuzzy, like my favourite sweater I reach for on cold Winter mornings.
This was my family's dessert on New Year's Day. My sister was visiting with her girls, so we had a quiet dinner of Thai take-out after rousing sessions of finger painting and play-dough-plaooza. I'm not sure who was having more fun - the two and three year-olds, or someone somewhat (okay, considerably) older...I think I need more play dough in my life. That is all. My sweet niece Olivia was very excited about assembling the puddings - she was the one that sauced them up for us that night. I didn't think the kids would go crazy for the pudding and molasses sauce, but hells yeah, they tucked right into it. Proud Aunty, I was. But really, I think it was all about the whipped cream on top.
Sticky toffee pudding is really a moist date cake, (built with a little butter, sugar, flour, an egg and loads of dates) and an incredible toffee sauce. While considered a modern British classic dessert, you'll find it on menus everywhere these days. And I'm not complaining, because I loooove it so. The cake is a great one - moist and flavourful, and easy to assemble - but the real shining star in this dessert is the toffee sauce, of course. Using molasses rather than golden syrup creates an exquisite, earthy, creamy sauce I now want to pour over everything.
If you don't like dates, don't give up on this recipe - you won't even really notice them. Promise. You'll be too busy cooing over the sauce. Yeah, that's me, still in my flannel jams. I was on holidays, y'all.
Butter 8 250 ml (8oz) ramekins, or butter an 8-inch square baking dish.
Spoon in the batter.
Bake them for about 50 minutes. Done.
When they are cool enough to remove, plate them up with heaps of sauce and whipped cream. Yum and yum.
In a month when reality looms large, with a mailbox full of bills, and an inbox that requires replies, this may be exactly what you need. There's always salad tomorrow.
Sticky Toffee Pudding with Molasses Sauce
1/2 cup (125ml) butter (I like salted)
1 cup (250ml) brown sugar
1 tsp (5ml) pure vanilla extract
1 cup (250ml) all purpose flour
1 tsp (5ml) baking soda
1 tsp (5ml) baking powder
2 cups (500ml) pitted dates, finely minced
1 1/4 cups (300ml) boiling water
1/4 cup (50ml) blackstrap molasses
1 cup (250ml) brown sugar
1/4 cup (50ml) molasses, or treacle
1/2 cup (125ml) cold butter, cubed
2 cups (500ml) whipping cream
Whipped cream for garnish.
To make puddings, in a medium bowl, pour boiling water over chopped dates. Let stand until cool. Meanwhile, butter 8 oven-proof 250ml (8oz) ramekins or an 8 inch square baking dish.
Cream butter until fluffy. Add brown sugar and beat until well combined. In another bowl, whisk together egg, vanilla. In another bowl, combine flour with baking soda and baking powder. To the butter mixture, alternately add flour mixture and egg mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir the cool dates into batter. Scrape bowl well. Divide batter evenly into your ramekins, about 2/3 full, or into your baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 300*F and bake another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make sauce, combine brown sugar and molasses or treacle in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, then whisk in butter, a few cubes a time. Add cream and boil until sauce is reduced and thickened, about 7-8 minutes. You should have 2 cups (500 ml) of sauce.
Remove puddings from oven and cool slightly on a rack. Run a knife around the edge of each ramekin to loosen pudding and invert onto plates. Serve warm, with the toffee sauce and sweetened whipped cream. Serves 8. Adapted from Cinda Chavich's book High Plains.
NOTE: The sauce make a lot, like almost twice as much as I needed. So feel free to cut the sauce recipe in half and you should have enough for your puddings. Or just keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. I'm sure you'll think of something to pour it over - like waffles or pancakes or gingerbread cake. Yum!