If you are English, you won’t flinch if given a choice of desserts ranging from Eton Mess, Spotted Dick or Sticky Toffee Pudding. If you are American, Sticky Toffee Pudding is probably the most familiar sounding of the three (more about the Spotted Dick some other time).
Most likely created in the 1960’s by a Chef working in a hotel in the Lake District, Sticky Toffee Pudding is a moist pudding/cake served with a toffee sauce. The whole thing has more calories than it’s possible to conceive in one mouthful but, now and then, why not be decadent? My personal consumption of Sticky Toffee Pudding is limited to exactly once a year. I happened to make it for a recent dinner party and here I am, offering it to you.
The original calls for Lyle Golden Syrup, a sweet syrup that is really hard to find on these shores. If you live in LA and really really want it, the British Pub on Santa Monica and 2nd Street in Santa Monica does carry it.
As this is one of the sweetest desserts ever invented, I mostly refer to a recipe by Sherry Yard (of Spago and Oscar fame) who has trained, amongst other places, in England, and knows her English puddings. She cuts the sweetness with some coffee extract, which I love. Instead of Lyle Golden Syrup she substitutes light corn syrup – not one of my favourite ingredients but, if you do want to feel better about it, Wholefoods sells an organic variety (yes, really).
RECIPE – Yield: one 9” cake
1 C Dates, pitted and finely chopped
1 C Boiling Water
1 3/4 C AP Flour
1 1/2 ts Baking Powder
1 ts Baking Soda
1/8 ts Salt
4 oz Butter, softened
1 C Light Brown Sugar
1/4 C Sugar
1 ts Coffee extract (or extra strong espresso)
FOR THE SAUCE
1 C Dark Brown Sugar
1 C Heavy Cream
1 T Butter
1/2 Vanilla Bean, split and seeds scraped out
1/4 C Milk
3 T Corn Syrup
- Place the dates in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Set aside for 1 hour.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. With a fork, mash the dates and the water. Stir in the baking soda.
- In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, both sugars and coffee extract until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until well incorporated.
- Add half the date mixture and mix on low-speed. Still on low, add half the flour mixture, then end with the remaining date mixture and flour. Pour the batter into a 9” round cake, well-greased. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
- In the meantime, make the sauce. Place the brown sugar, cream, butter, vanilla seeds and bean, milk and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until the mixture thickens (it will coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes). Continue to cook until golden brown, 1 or 2 minutes more. Remove the vanilla bean and keep warm.
- When the cake is done and still hot in its pan, poke some holes with a skewer in several places. Pour the toffee sauce over it and serve (should the sauce be too thick, you can thin it out with a tablespoon of water). You can also cut the cake and serve it with the sauce on the side.