Monday, April 16, 2012

Sticky Toffee Pudding

So last night I had the family over for dinner minus my dad who is currently in Australia. When I was trying to decide what to make for dessert I thought of these puddings that my friend Caroline always makes. I had remembered they were a Delia Smith recipe but I couldn't see it in any of the cookbooks I have of hers. A quick search on Google resolved this easily. Delia Smith is a culinary icon...she's the British version of our very own Dame Alison Holst or the American version of Julia Child/Paula Dean or the Australian version of Margaret Fulton. They are the tried and true, whose recipes almost always work, the icons of everyday and sometimes a bit different food.  

These puddings lived up to their reputation of being easy to make, light and totally delicious. My step dad is from America...the South to be a bit more precise and he had never heard of them. That's because they really are a quintessential English pudding. No doubt there is an American version out there but as far as I know these are English in origin. The dates are softened and even though I don't really like dates, they don't taste very 'datey' in this pudding. The toffee sauce just elevates it all to a sublime level. I added in pecan nuts as directed in the recipe but I really don't think they added too much, if anything, to the finished product. Softly whipped cream is, to me, essential to cutting through the sweetness. Delia cuts the tops off and turns them upside down which probably helps the presentation but I just kept them as they were. I doubled the recipe to make more so I had some in the freezer to have on hand and the recipe doubled nicely.

As Dons and my sister Rochene are both Gluten intolerant I found a GF version online and by all accounts it was fantastic so I'll put that recipe on after this one even though I don't have a photo of them.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

175 g stoned dates, chopped
½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
75 g butter, at room temperature
150 g caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
175 g self-raising flour, sifted

For the sauce:
25 g pecan nuts, chopped
175 g soft brown sugar
110 g butter
6 Tbsp cream

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease 8 Texas muffin tins or ramekans the same size.

Put the chopped dates in a bowl and pour175 ml boiling water over them.

Then add the vanilla extract and bicarbonate of soda and leave to one side. Next, in a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, beating until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy.

Now gradually add the beaten eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

After that, carefully and lightly fold in the sifted flour using a metal spoon, and then you can fold in the date mixture (including the liquid). You'll probably think at this stage that you've done something wrong, because the mixture will look very sloppy, but don't worry: that is perfectly correct and the slackness of the mixture is what makes the puddings so light.

Now divide the mixture equally among the eight containers, place them on a baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes. When they're cooked, leave them to cool for 5 minutes, then, using a cloth to protect your hands, slide a small palette knife around each pudding and turn it out. If they have risen too much you may have to slice a little off the tops so that they can sit evenly on the plate. Now place the puddings on a shallow, Swiss-roll tin. Next, make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan and heating very gently until the sugar has melted and all the crystals have dissolved.

To serve the puddings: pre-heat the grill to its highest setting, and pour some of the sauce evenly over the puddings. Place the tin under the grill, so the tops of the puddings are about 13 cm)m from the heat (knock off any nuts on the top to prevent them browning) and let them heat through for about 8 minutes. What will happen is the tops will become brown and slightly crunchy and the sauce will be hot and bubbling. This step isn't essential though and the puddings could be heated in the microwave before serving.

Serve with extra sauce and either softly whipped or pouring cream.

Gluten Free Sticky Toffee Puddings

55g soft, room temperature butter
1/3 c packed light brown sugar
1 large egg beaten
½ c gf flour
¼ c almond meal
2 tsp vanilla extract 
½ c (75 g) stoned, chopped dates
1/3 c boiling water
1/2 tsp baking soda 
½ tsp baking powder 
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180C and grease Texas muffin tins or normal muffin tins. 

Put dates in heat proof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Add vanilla extract and baking soda. Cream butter and sugar together until fairly light, creamy and fluffy.  It won’t get as fluffy and creamy with brown sugar as with granulated sugar, but flavor is better. Slowly beat egg in, beat well after each addition, it might look a bit curdled but that's fine.

Mix flour, almond meal, salt and baking powder together and carefully fold into butter mix. Don’t over mix, it will still look dry and floury.

Gently fold date and liquid into mix. It will now look sloppy, lumpy, not like a normal cake batter.

Place on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes. They wont rise like the other puddings but they still tasted light and yummy. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Follow the same process as you do for the normal puddings above.

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