Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sticky Toffee Pudding

If you are trying to lose weight, turn off your monitor now.   This recipe is full of calories. 

It's quite perfect for the holidays, in my opinion. 

I mean seriously, since you have to spend several hours in the same house with Crazy Aunt Sally for the holiday, then you deserve this dessert.   For breakfast! 

A friend of mine gave me this recipe last year and we made it for Christmas Eve dinner.   I made the batter earlier in the day and then we stuck them in the oven just before we sat down to dinner.   To say that we loved them would be a gross understatement.

They were To. Die. For.   The heavens opened, angels sang, all was right with the world.  We had them warm, with ice cream.   I could only manage a half of one.    Which meant there was more for later.  


Christmas night it started snowing and when it stopped, we had more than a foot of snow.  We dug ourselves out just in time for the power to go out.   We got our generator going [which took some fiddling] and settled in.  We were lucky - we were without power for only six hours.  To celebrate the return of electricity, we ate more sticky toffee pudding.   And then for breakfast the next day, just because we could, we finished it off.

See?   It's totally versatile!   You can eat it to celebrate anything!  In fact, you don't even need a reason to eat these.   You can have them whenever you want! 

I got the recipe from a friend, and she said it came from America's Test Kitchen.  The link will take you to the original recipe page, but you may have to sign up for a free trial in order to see it.   Here's basically what it is.

Individual Sticky Toffee Puddings, with Toffee Sauce

Cook's Illustrated, via

Pudding Cakes
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole dates, pitted, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices [The dry hard ones are easiest, but you can use fresher soft ones, too.]
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted

Toffee Sauce
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon rum or a couple of drops of rum flavoring
1/2 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon 

FOR THE PUDDING CAKES: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour eight 4-ounce ramekins. Set prepared ramekins in large roasting pan.

Combine half of dates with water and baking soda in glass measuring cup (dates should be submerged beneath water) and soak for 5 minutes. Drain dates, reserving liquid, and transfer to medium bowl. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in another medium bowl.

Process remaining dates and brown sugar in food processor until just blended, about five short pulses. Add reserved soaking liquid, eggs, and vanilla and process until smooth, about 5 seconds. With food processor running, pour melted butter through feed tube in steady stream. Transfer this mixture to bowl with softened dates.

Gently stir dry mixture into wet mixture until just combined and date pieces are evenly dispersed. Distribute batter evenly among prepared ramekins. 

Fill roasting pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up sides of ramekins, making sure not to splash water into ramekins.  I filled an empty wine bottle with water and poured it in that way.   Worked like a charm.   Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil, crimping edges to seal.  [I skipped that part entirely.]  Bake pudding cakes until puffed and small holes appear on surface, about 40 minutes. Immediately remove ramekins from water bath and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

FOR THE TOFFEE SAUCE: While the puddings are baking,  melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and mixture looks puffy, 3 to 4 minutes. [My sugar didn't dissolve until I put the cream in.]  Slowly pour in cream and rum, whisk just to combine, reduce heat, and simmer until sugar is dissolved and mixture is frothy, 10-15 minutes.   Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

To serve, invert each ramekin onto plate or shallow bowl, remove ramekin.  Divide toffee sauce evenly among cakes and serve immediately.   If you want to eat them later, then warm the pudding in the microwave for 30 seconds and it'll come right out of the ramekin.  

The recipe makes a lot.  You can use smaller ramekins and still have a generous dessert.  Or you could cut them in half and serve them cut side down on a plate.   They'd serve 16 or more people that way.

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