Five years ago I had a dessert party and a friend from North Carolina fell in love with my sticky toffee pudding. It was the first time I had tried the recipe and it was definitely memorable. A couple of years later, exploring Covent Garden, we came across a vendor selling sticky toffee pudding. After explaining just how high our standards were, the nice woman convinced us to buy a portion. Needless to say, it was a great disappointment.
Last year, this friend requested my sticky toffee pudding for his 50th birthday. To be delivered to him wherever he was in the world on the day. I agreed, halfway hoping he’d be in Hong Kong so I would have an excuse to travel there.
April 30th rolled around, and the famous sticky toffee pudding made an appearance – with a birthday candle and fun birthday hat – to much public acclaim. “Lovely.” “Heavenly.” “Beautiful.” “Delicious.”
So I figured I’d add it to the blog.
Note: I am intrigued to find out the chemistry behind adding the baking soda to the boiling water to soften the dates. My chemist friend hypothesized that it might have something to do with acidity levels. Ideas?
Sticky Toffee Pudding
From Oprah Magazine, March 2005 issue
Adapted from Five Points restaurant, New York City
1 cup boiling water
10 ounces pitted dates
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 stick (8 tbsp; 4 ounces; 1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
5 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 pint (1 cup) heavy cream
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 stick (4 tbsp; 2 ounces) butter
Whipped cream for topping (optional)
1. To make pudding: Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a high-sided 9-inch round baking pan; line bottom with waxed paper. In a medium bowl, pour water over dates; stir in baking soda, and let stand until dates soften, about 5 minutes. In another medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until almost smooth. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture until just combined; add date mixture (with the water) and vanilla until blended.
3. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until top feels firm, 30 to 33 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, to make toffee sauce: In a medium saucepan, bring heavy cream and light brown sugar to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add butter, and boil 3 minutes.
5. Remove pudding from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Place waxed paper over top of pudding, and unmold by inverting pudding onto a plate; invert again onto a serving plate, top side up. Using a fork, poke holes in surface of pudding so toffee sauce will seep in evenly. Spoon 6 tbsp sauce, one at a time, over top. Serve remaining sauce alongside warm pudding, with a bowl of whipped cream, if desired. Makes 8 servings.