Cake, Desserts

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Kate Middleton turns 30 today (January 9th) and like a good little fan girl I decided to celebrate the #1 googled person in my life by baking a decidedly British dessert, Sticky Toffee Pudding. Sticky Toffee Pudding is reportedly one of Kate’s favorite desserts. Although, given the immaculate silhouette she presents in every single item she wears I highly doubt she’s had more than a forkful or two in many many months.

So, yes, even though the Royal Wedding happened almost a year ago I still keep on top of all things involving The Duchess of Cambridge. I even follow blogs that meticulously track down all of Kate’s clothing selections, analyze her hair, and maintain my own little informal catalogue of Kate’s greatest hits on Pinterest. I seriously can’t get enough.

Supposedly Kate will spend this milestone birthday in a very low-key manner, which means she won’t be able to go to a pub, drink way too much champagne, lament finding her first grey hair, and then dance on a table like the rest of us. However, before you start to feel bad for her please recall that she does get to wear an 18-carat sapphire while sipping her morning coffee so it can’t be all bad.

Now, back to the all-important birthday pudding. Delicious, delightful, and dangerously good are exactly how I’d qualify the results of the recipe I followed. The date and brown sugar mini cakes were steamed in a water bath and came out extremely moist. The crowning glory of the dessert though is the cream and butter rum-spiked sauce. A word of warning, Sticky Toffee Pudding is very rich. You definitely won’t require seconds. Which is a good thing if we ever want to fit into Kate’s latest runway look. PS: At least I found a festive way to utilize my broken imperial crown key chain…

Individual Sticky Toffee Puddings
Originally published in Cooks Illustrated
Serves 8

Pudding Cakes
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces, plus more for dusting the ramekins)
1 1/4 cups whole dates, pitted, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
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 (5 1/4 ounces), 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 (7 ounces), light or dark
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon rum
Crème Anglaise or vanilla ice cream (optional)

For the pudding cakes: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour eight 4-ounce ramekins and line bottom of each with round of parchment paper cut to fit. Set prepared ramekins in large roasting pan lined with clean dish towel. Bring kettle or large saucepan of water to boil over high heat.

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 1-second 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. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil, crimping edges to seal. 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: Meanwhile, 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. Slowly pour in cream and rum, whisk just to combine, reduce heat, and simmer until frothy, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover to keep warm, and set aside.

To serve, invert each ramekin onto plate or shallow bowl, remove ramekin, and peel off parchment paper lining. Divide toffee sauce evenly among cakes and serve immediately, accompanied by crème anglaise or vanilla ice cream.