Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sticky Toffee Therapy

We had a doozy of a day today. No sun. No snow to play in (plenty of ice to slip and break your neck on though!) And Brian was gloomy too. I usually count on him to be able to pull me out of my funks, but he's fighting off a cold and had a crappy night sleep so his humor reserves were at a low.

I tried. I really did. I went to the gym first thing in the hopes of having endorphins help me out. I made a good breakfast: spinach sauteed in garlic and olive oil, egg cracked on top then sprinkled with feta accompanied by multigrain toast and strong coffee. We took the kids to see a planetarium show about the stars in ancient Egypt. I even wore the cheerful socks my sister gave me for Christmas:
But no go. Gloom still permeated the air. I decided it was time for some Sticky Toffee Pudding Therapy. Brian has never had Sticky Toffee Pudding which was everywhere you turned in England when I was there one winter in the early '90s. I figure that the English know something about gloom and how to treat it. Bring on the toffee!

It helps that it is a pretty simple recipe. The only "specialized" ingredient is the heavy cream for the caramel sauce. I made it in a loaf pan because as I accurately predicted, my freaky kids wouldn't eat it, so I halved the recipe (which would normally make an 8 inch square steamed pudding).



After devouring one piece, Brian looked up at me with the first sign of a smile I'd seen all day and asked: "How sick would we be if we ate the whole thing?"

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake
serves 4-6 people, depending on gloom levels
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Pudding cake
2 T butter melted
1/2 C plus 2 T unbleached all purpose flour
4 oz whole pitted dates, cut into 1/4 inch dice
a little less than a 1/2 C warm water
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
a little less than 1/2 C of dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla

Toffee sauce
2 T butter
1/2 C packed dark brown sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 C heavy cream

Pudding cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 4x8 inch loaf pan.
  2. Combine half of the dates with the warm water and baking soda and soak for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.
  4. Bring a kettle of water to boil.
  5. Process other half of the dates and the brown sugar in a food processor until it looks like damp sand, 45 seconds. Drain soaked dates--save the liquid, but set the dates aside. Add soaking liquid to the food processor. Add egg, vanilla and melted butter and process until smooth, 15 seconds.
  6. Plop wet stuff from food processor on top of the dry stuff in your bowl and sprinkle the softened dates on top.
  7. With a spatula, fold wet into dry until just combined and date pieces are distributed. Spread batter into prepared loaf pan. Put loaf pan in a bigger pan and pour boiling water in the bigger pan until it is about 1/4 inch deep. Cover the whole thing tightly with aluminum foil so the pudding cake will steam inside.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes until puffed and springy.
  9. Flip cake out onto serving platter.
  10. Take a toothpick and stab holes in it for the toffee sauce to seep into (very therapeutic!) Spread about 1/4 of the sauce and let soak in. Do it again.
  11. Cut into squares (or rectangles) and top each serving with more toffee sauce.
Toffee Sauce:
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in brown sugar and salt until smooth. Continue to cook until sugar is dissolved and slightly darkened, whisk occasionally (about 4 minutes).
  2. Add 1/4 C cream and stir until smooth. Pour in remaining cream and whisk. Reduce heat to low and simmer until frothy, about 3 minutes.


Jen said...

I love this stuff! Thanks for the recipe. I had a great dessert tonight myself - a little ricotta mixed with sugar, some Trader Joe's morello cherries on top and I shaved a little dark chocolate over that.

We Michiganders have to do something to stave off this weird weather.

Anonymous said...

What is this gloom you speak of? You are having dinner at our house next week!!!! Smiles everyone, smiles :) :) :) (And lots of beer)

Stella said...

Sounds wonderful! I may be in need of just this sort of therapy. (Anything, really to avoid the huge stack of papers on my desk!)

Edward Vielmetti said...

We hit the YMCA pool today to shake off the gloom - but I would have done the toffee too.

Shayne said...

LOL the whole thing huh. Love the socks.

Edward Vielmetti said...


Sandra Hamlett said...

This is one of my absolute favorite desserts. I made it for Christmas. What a wonderful coincidence to find it here.

Anonymous said...

What Ed said--YUM! Thanks so much for bringing it...holy cow, that was awesome!
PS: I think Buddy is still unhappy that we wouldn't share with him :)

Diana Dyer said...

We had a great week in Scotland several years ago with our first experience of Sticky Toffee Pudding on our last night there. There is surely a lot I have forgotten from that week, but I can still taste that pudding. Thanks for the inspiration to try to make my own. :-)

Maggie said...

That looks curl-your-toes good! I can totally see my husband and I eating ourselves sick.