Sticky Toffee Pudding with Orange-Toffee Sauce

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In the UK, “pudding” is a broad dessert category embracing everything from fools and flummerys to crumbles, coddles and creams. Textures vary just as widely, which can be a bit confusing to the American palate which puts pudding in the creamy custard column. While I like the whimsy and wide-ranging possibility of the UK’s pudding tradition, I do think something as lovely-sounding as Sticky Toffee Pudding should be soft, sticky and rich as the name implies.  And that meant a little adaptation. As they’ve evolved over time, recipes for Sticky Toffee Pudding today produce something more cake-y, than pudding-like. But oven-steaming the dessert as I would a good bread pudding, the results are wonderfully soft. Our traditional date-laced version is perfect bathed with buttery orange-toffee sauce. Or, add a 1/4 cup of dark cocoa powder to the batter to enjoy a deep chocolate pudding.

Makes 12 individual-ramekin servings

Sticky Toffee Pudding Ingredients

  • 2 cups dates
  • 1 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick unsalted cultured butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • IF MAKING CHOCOLATE VERSION: 1/4 cup dark (heavily dutched) cocoa powder
  • Whipped cream, for garnish
  • finely grated orange zest, for garnish

Orange Toffee Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Juice of one navel orange, strained
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Make the pudding: Boil 1 1/2 cups water. Pour boiling water over dates. Add 1 tsp baking soda. Stir. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dates to sit for a few hours to soften well. Whirl all to a smooth paste with a hand blender, regular blender or in a food processor.
  2. Whisk butter, sugar and vanilla until volume increases and mixture is fluffy. Mixing steadily, add eggs, one at a time. Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and spice) [AND CHOCOLATE, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE VERSION.]) together. Alternating with the date mixture, add flour and dates to the butter, whisking to incorporate.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a quart of boiling water. Pour the batter into 12 ramekins, leaving about 1/2 inch space at the top of each. Lightly cover each ramekin with foil. Place filled ramekins in a large pan.  Place the pan with the ramekins in it on the center rack of the oven. Pour boiling water into the pan, creating a steam bath for the ramekins. The water should be about 1/2 inch up the outsides of the ramekins. Carefully close the oven. Steam the puddings for 45 minutes.
  4. While the puddings are baking, make the sauce. Melt butter and sugar with the vanilla in a sauce pan. Boil for about 3 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat. Whisk in the cream and then the orange juice.
  5. Slip a knife around the edge of each pudding. Unmold the puddings onto serving plates; drizzle with plenty of toffee sauce. Top with whipped cream and orange zest. Eat while warm.

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