25 September 2014
Sticky Toffee Pudding seems just the sort of thing to have been around for centuries, right? It is a British classic all right, but a modern British classic. There are those who will tell you it originated in Cumbria, others Lancashire, and still others Scotland or Canada.
Despite some talk of it having been brought to Britain by a Canadian soldier during World War Two, the earliest publication date of a recipe seems to be 1971 in Britain. Since I have grandparents from both Cumbria and Lancashire, I'd be tempted to claim that connection, but they emigrated to Canada long before then and likely never had sticky toffee pudding.
It can be baked in a cake tin and cut into squares or wedges for serving, but I prefer to make individual puddings. Since it is a very rich and sweet dessert (though my version might be less sweet than most), the standard-muffin-tin-size pudding makes a very satisfying portion.
I love that it is something you can make a day or two ahead (probably even longer). Just place as many warm puddings as you will be serving in a baking dish; you can fit as many as 15 in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Spoon a tablespoon or two (depending on how thick you make it) of warm toffee sauce over each warm pudding. Cover the dish with foil.
If you've just made them a few hours ahead, you can leave the dish on the counter. Otherwise, refrigerate until you're ready to reheat the puddings. Reheat for about 20 minutes in oven preheated to 350 degrees. I rarely serve dessert to 18 people, so it's a good thing the puddings freeze well.
What is your favorite classic comfort food dessert?
Sticky Toffee Pudding
1 8-ounce package pitted dates
1 1/3 cups water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 dip-and-sweep cups (8.75 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (6 ounces) firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
(Makes 2 cups)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses (black treacle in the UK)
1 tablespoon brandy, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 In 1-quart saucepan, bring dates and water to a boil. Boil gently for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda and set aside.
2 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup standard muffin tin and a 6-cup standard muffin tin. Place them on a half-sheet pan.
3 In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, by hand or with electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until well combined.
4 In food processor fitted with chopping blade, process dates in their liquid to a smooth puree. Add date mixture to batter and stir until combined.
5 Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, divide batter evenly between the 18 muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn out onto wire racks, top sides down.
6 While puddings are baking, make the sauce. (Or make it ahead and leave it at room temperature for a few hours before gently rewarming it at serving time.) In 2-quart saucepan, combine dark brown sugar, butter, cream, salt and molasses. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the consistency* you prefer. Remove from heat and stir in brandy, if using, and vanilla extract.
* I like to stop at 5 minutes and spoon a little of the thinner sauce over the warm-from-the-oven puddings, then continue cooking the remaining sauce until it is thicker, about 5 minutes longer. Not necessary, but I like the way the thinner sauce kind of soaks into the puddings a bit.
7 Place puddings on individual serving plates. Spoon sauce over the puddings. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or barely sweetened whipped cream on the side. And, of course, Custard Sauce - Creme Anglaise takes this dessert completely over the top!