When I’m missing being in the United Kingdom, I make this sticky, sweet and rich dessert to remind me of the great memories I had in England and Scotland. My friends and I had this dessert four times during a month-long trip. For now this will be the closest thing to feel like being back in the United Kingdom…or at least till the next time I swing by our Little Britain on Greenwich Avenue in New York City.
In my rendition of the sticky toffee pudding I wanted to make the date flavor really stand out in the steamed cake. In this recipe there are chopped dates and date puree which gives a generous mouthful of date flavor and gives contrasting textures. I used dark brown sugar in the toffee sauce because I like a rich molasses flavor, but if that is not your cup of tea, you may substitute with light brown sugar.
What you need:
The Pudding (Steamed Cake)
1 cup water
¼ cup dark rum (I used Bacardi® Select Puerto Rican Rum)
½ stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups chopped dates (for pan), ½ cup chopped dates sifted in flour (to mix in)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
½ stick unsalted butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1- Preheat the oven to 350F. Toss and soak the 1 ½ cups of the chopped dates in the rum in a small bowl for fifteen minutes.
2- In a pan, add the rum soaked dates and water. Bring the mixture to a boil.
3- Once boiling, add the baking soda to the mixture. You will notice that the mixture will foam. The foaming is a reaction between the baking soda and the acid in the dates.
5- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
6-In an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until combined. Next add part of the dry mixture, some of the date puree, vanilla and one of the eggs. Mix the ingredients together. Add the second egg, more of the dry mixture and the date puree and mix again. Continue to add the rest of the dry mixture and date puree until all is combined.
7- Add the rest of the chopped dates sifted in flour to the mixture. The flour helps the chopped dates from falling to the bottom of the steamed cake. Fold the dates into the cake batter.
8- Prepare a water bath using a roasting pan or large casserole dish and a tea towel. Place the ramekins you will use on the tea towel in the roasting pan to determine how much water you will need to put in. The water level should be about ¼ less than the top lip of the shortest ramekin (if you are using various sizes of ramekins at once). If you are using average sized ramekins, the batter should be enough to make five or six steamed cakes.
9- Fill each of the ramekins with the batter about ¾ full. After all the ramekins are filled, place them back into the water bath
and place them in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes.
10- Test the cakes with a toothpick for doneness. The toothpick should come out clean. If the cake is not ready, bake in five minute increments until the cake is done. If the cake is done, place the ramekins aside out of the water bath.
11- For the sauce, place the butter, dark brown sugar, vanilla and heavy cream in a skillet pan on the stove top. Heat the mixture until it appears homogenous and bubbly.
12- Take a long skewer and poke holes into the top of the cakes. If you do not have a skewer, you can also use a fondue stick, chopstick or fork instead. Also take a butter knife and loosen the steamed cakes around its sides. This will help the sauce seep into and soak the steamed cake. Pour the sauce over the steamed cakes in the ramekins. Let the sauce set for five minutes in the cakes.
13- Take a spoon and carefully loosen each cake on top of a small plate inverting them. Some may not pop out perfectly. If so, just place the pieces back on the cake. The sauce will cover up the imperfections.
14- Take the remaining sauce and cover the steamed cake generously in the rich and sticky toffee sauce.
Serve the sticky toffee pudding as is or a la mode with vanilla bean ice cream. Bon Appétit!
**This recipe is dedicated to my friends, Jenny and Calvin, who have traveled with me during my stay in London. They just got engaged and this is in honor of their relationship and many more adventures and years to come.