Valentine’s Day is just a few days away. We usually celebrate by going out for a romantic dinner. If that doesn’t fit in the schedule, we make a fancy dinner at home and eat after the kids go to bed. This year is a dinner at home kind of year.
Of course, you have to have a decadent dessert on Valentine’s Day. This year I decided to switch it up and stray from the usual chocolate to Sticky Toffee Pudding. I first had this dessert at Calypso Grill in Grand Cayman. Come to think of it, it is the only time I’ve ever had Sticky Toffee Pudding and it was amazing! Although I must ask why it is called “pudding” because it really is more like a cake. Is this just a British English vs. American English situation?
Until I did a little research, I didn’t realize Sticky Toffee Pudding was made with dates. I’ve never had a date. My only knowledge of dates is that Indiana Jones almost gets poisoned by them in Raiders of the Lost Arc, “Bad dates.” That poor little monkey.
Anyway, I saw dates at the grocery store and Valentine’s Day dessert was officially decided upon. When I started chopping them up for the pudding I realized why it is called “Sticky.” Dates are crazy sticky! I also tasted a little bite while I was chopping so I would know what a date tasted like. It is very, very sweet.
One thing I really liked about the recipe I chose (click here) was that it is supposed to be similar to the Calypso Grill dessert. Another thing- it doesn’t make a huge amount. We don’t need to eat it for days so I didn’t want a gigantic cake… I mean pudding. I bought this one pound package of dates
I only used 9 dates for the pudding. So, I can make 3 of these desserts with just the one package. That turned out to be a good thing since I made two of them in about 2 hours.
The first time I made it I followed the directions exactly. I preheated the oven and buttered the pan. I sifted the dry ingredients together. I pitted then chopped the dates, soaked them in boiling water and added the baking soda.
I creamed the butter and sugar, added the egg and vanilla then mixed in the dry ingredients.
Then, I added the date mixture to the flour mixture. Here is where I thought disaster was about to strike. It said to “fold” in the dates. I stirred like crazy with a rubber spatula then just got the electric mixer back out to blend it better. The batter is VERY liquidy so I assumed I was destined for failure. But, I kept going. I put the batter in the pan
I baked it for 35 minutes then let it cool on a wire rack while I made the Toffee Sauce*.
*The Toffee Sauce is INCREDIBLE!!! It is very sweet but really just so, so good. It would be good on anything, especially vanilla ice cream. I think the recipe does have you make too much though. I used just the one batch of toffee sauce for both of my desserts and I still had plenty left over. In my version of the recipe below I only make half of the sauce, and you will still have some left over. I’m also wondering how it would taste with a splash of bourbon mixed in but I’ll try that another time. If you try it with bourbon, let me know.
When the toffee sauce was ready, I poured 1/3 of a cup over the pudding and put it back under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
Then, I scooped it out, drizzled some more sauce on top, topped with whipped cream and tasted it. Heavenly!
Then, I immediately made the dessert a second time. It was for Valentine’s Day and I wanted to be able to unmold it. I have my grandma’s cute heart pan! So the second time around instead of drizzling the sauce on the top at the end then broiling it, I put the sauce in the bottom of the pan before pouring the batter in.
Well, it mostly came out of the pan. The middle got stuck a little. But you know what, that’s ok. I just scooped out the stuck part and laid it where it was supposed to go. My husband will still love me even if the dessert doesn’t come out perfect. And it will definitely still taste fantastic.
In the future, I will just make the pudding and not worry about the extra sauce. People can decide on their own amount of sauce. I will still drizzle some around the plate but people can top it with as much or as little as they want.
Also, you can tell from the picture I used store bought whipped cream. I usually don’t but my mom left some at my house and it was in the fridge and I had already made two desserts. I have already posted a whipped cream recipe on the blog though so you can click here if you want to make your own.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
1 c + 1 T Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt
¾ c Pitted Dates (about 9 Dates for me)
1 ¼ c Boiling Water
1 tsp Baking Soda
¼ c Unsalted Butter, at room temp.
½ c Sugar
1 Egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp Vanilla
¼ c Unsalted Butter
¼ c Heavy Cream
½ c Brown Sugar
Preheat the oven to 350
Butter a 9″ round or square baking dish
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl; set aside.
Chop the dates very fine and place in a small bowl.
Add the boiling water to the dates and sprinkle in the baking soda (I used the tip of my knife to swirl everything around a little); set aside.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.
Gradually beat in the flour mixture.
Add the date mixture (including all the liquid) and begin to combine with a rubber spatula. Use the electric mixer if necessary to mix everything together.
Pour batter into prepared baking dish.
Bake until the pudding (cake) is set and firm on top, about 40 minutes.
Let cake cool in the pan on a rack while you prepare the toffee sauce.
In a small saucepan over medium low heat, combine the butter, cream and brown sugar.
Stir constantly until you have a smooth consistency and the mixture comes to a low boil.
Continue to boil gently for 8 minutes, stirring often.
If desired, unmold the pudding (cake) and cut into serving pieces. Alternatively, just scoop some out of the pan and put in a bowl.
Drizzle toffee sauce around the pudding and on top if desired.
Top with whipped cream and serve warm.
You can make the pudding ahead of time and just warm it in the oven for a few minutes before serving.
You can store the extra toffee sauce in the fridge and reheat it. You will really have to stir vigorously to get it back to a smooth sauce. If you don’t the butter will separate a bit and the sugar may taste a little grainy. So heat and stir like crazy.
Happy Valentine’s Day!