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Sticky Toffee Pudding

You probably weren’t expecting me to return with dessert (although, at this point, maybe you were). I know that everyone else is currently writing about salads and whole grains and cleanses. Screw that, I want some sticky toffee pudding.

I have been wanting to write about sticky toffee pudding ever since I returned from our honeymoon. It is one of my favorite sweets and difficult to find in the US. But it seems to be everywhere in the UK. With good reason— it is amazing!

We spent the holidays in Los Angeles with Bryan’s family (they’re my family, too!). It was a whirlwind trip packed with lots of family, food and presents. Bryan and I snuck away for a few days to meet two of our dearest friends in Palm Springs.

Palm Springs, for those of you who don’t know, is really into dates. Not the romantic kind, but the kind that grow on trees. I believe no trip to Palm Springs is complete without a date shake. I like the ones at the fudge shop in town, I do not like the ones at Hadley’s. The shakes got me thinking about dates again.

While in Palm Springs, we ate lunch at the Ace hotel (double date?). When I ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert, our server first looked confused and then corrected me: you mean sticky date pudding? (OMG! She might not even know they are the same thing?!) It was a nice version of the classic British dessert and was the push I needed to make my own.

I used a recipe from the always reliable, Rose Levy Beranbaum. It is the perfect light rendition and one that I will definitely be making again. It is everything I wanted in a STP. She mentions in the notes about the recipe that it is nice served with root beer ice cream, which I hope to try sometime soon. I settled for unsweetened whipped cream, but plain vanilla ice cream would be killer.

Happy new year, everyone! I hope 2012 is off to a good start.

**I believe STP needs to be served warm. If you aren’t eating this all at once, the cake and sauce can be warmed in the microwave pretty easily. We kept eating this for about 3 days and it remained delicious. I stored the cake tightly wrapped at room temperature, and the sauce in the fridge.

Sticky Toffee Pudding (from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes [1] by Rose Levy Beranbaum)

Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with butter, line bottom with parchment.

In a small saucepan, bring the beer to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the baking soda. It will fizz up a lot. Pour the beer mixture over the pitted dates. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once cool, remove the dates to a food processor and add a little of the beer mixture. Process until a paste is formed. Gradually add the rest of the liquid through the feed tube. The mixture will be smooth, dark and glossy. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. (she recommends 300 if you are baking in a pyrex)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. With the mixer on medium, gradually add the eggs in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add one third of the flour mixture to the batter and mix on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add half the date mixture and mix just until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with another third of the flour, then the remaining date mixture, and finally the remaining flour. Mix just until the batter is uniform in color and no streaks remain. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Using a silicon spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. The pan will be about one third full.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. While the cake is baking, make the toffee sauce.

Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. You can then either unmold the cake, or just cut (into 12 pieces) and serve from the cake pan. Serve each slice warm, topped with about 3 tablespoons of the toffee sauce. Top with vanilla ice cream.

Toffee Sauce

In a small saucepan, place the brown sugar and butter. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the pan and add the pod. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the heavy cream, lemon juice, and salt. Let cool for a couple of minutes before removing the vanilla bean and serving.