Sticky Toffee Pudding

8-10 small 4 ounce soufflé dishes, ramekins or other individual molds that will sit in a water bath while baking.

You can make the pudding sauce and crème anglaise ahead of time and hold them until the pudding has baked. The pudding and the toffee sauce are best served warm and the crème anglaise cold.

Preheat oven to 350°

Pudding:
¼ cup butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups flour
6 ounces dates, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
extra butter and flour for the soufflé dishes

Toffee Sauce:
1 ¼ cups packed dark brown sugar
½ cup cream
¼ cup butter
2 teaspoons brandy or cognac
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Crème Anglaise for Sticky Toffee Pudding
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
9 ounces whole milk
3 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar

For the toffee sauce combine the butter, cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Off heat add the brandy and vanilla. Set aside. Reheat before serving.

For the crème anglaise, place the vanilla bean and seeds in a pot with the milk and bring just to the boil. Turn off the heat and let it steep 10-15 minutes. Scrape the pod to release any seeds into the milk then remove the vanilla pod.

Beat the sugar and yolks together until thick and light. Slowly pour in about ½ of the milk mixture while beating with a whisk to keep the yolks from cooking. Once tempered, add the remaining milk and sugar and cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wood spoon, about 170° F. Pour through a fine meshed strainer and chill stirring occasionally to keep it from forming a skin on top. Keep chilled until served.

For the pudding bring the dates and 1 ¼ cups water to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the baking soda, it will bubble up, set aside to cool.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and reserve. In another bowl beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg and beat. Add some of the dry ingredients and mix, then the remaining egg and beat. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the date mixture.

Butter and flour each soufflé dish. Pour the batter into the soufflé dishes filling about ¾ full. Place the dishes in a large baking dish and fill about half way up the sides of the soufflé dishes with warm water. In a preheated 350° oven bake 18-20 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean. The pudding should be golden brown and springy to the touch.

While the pudding is still warm prick the surface of each and cover with about half of the sauce. Allow the puddings to absorb the sauce. After 10 minutes run a knife around the perimeter of each mold and turn out on serving plates or you can hold them on oil sprayed wax paper and cover them with a clean tea towel. Reserve the remaining sauce for serving.

Serve on individual plates adding the warmed toffee sauce on each pudding followed with some of the cold anglaise sauce.

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