With two pregnancies behind me I jumped back into my running shoes on New Year’s day and I’m back on a strict paleo regime… well 95% of the time. We all need to break the rules now and then, or it’s just no fun. So I sneaked these sticky toffees in for a supper party while it’s still wintry enough to get away with them.
Sticky toffee puddings must be one of the best British classics around. Done right, they’re little towers of moist, decadent and gooey yumminess – every bit as wicked as they sound. And the best part about them is how easy they are to whip up – particularly convenient if you’re wanting to take the stress out of a dinner party and make them in advance. They freeze incredibly well.
Recipe adapted from Delia Smith
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
Equipment: Eight 6 oz (175 g) metal pudding basins or eight 3 inch (7.5 cm) ramekin dishes, lightly oiled with butter or olive oil, and a baking sheet.
Oven: Pre-heat oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
Serves: 8 (or 1 rugby player)
For the puddings:
- 6 oz (175g) stoned dates, chopped
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp coffee essence
- 3/4 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 3 oz (75g) butter, softened to room temperature (or Stork margarine – works just as well and is soft straight from the fridge if you’re short on time)
- 5oz (150g) caster sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 6oz (175g) self raising flour, sifted
For the sticky sauce:
- 6 oz (175g) light soft brown sugar
- 4oz (110g) butter
- 6 oz double cream
- OPTIONAL – 1oz (25g) pecan nuts, chopped
- Chilled single cream or ice cream
For the puddings:
- Start with your stoned dates – chop them into small pieces and place in a bowl. Pour 175ml boiling water over the top, add your vanilla extract, coffee essence and bicarbonate of soda, and then leave to stand and soften.
- In a large mixing bowl, (we use a Kitchenaid) cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
- Next gradually add your beaten eggs, beating well after each addition.
- Now gently fold in the sifted flour with a spoon.
- Lastly add the steeped date mixture, including the liquid they’ve been soaking in. Your mixture will seem very sloppy at this point, but don’t panic that you’ve done something wrong – it’s exactly what makes the puddings so airy.
- Divide the batter equally among the eight pudding basins and pop them on your baking tray.
- Bake for 25 minutes. You can check with a skewer to see if they’re cooked all the way through – if ready, the skewer should come out perfectly clean. Leave them to cool for 5 minutes before sliding a small palette knife around each pudding to release them.
- Leave them to cool completely.
At this stage the puddings are ready to be set aside for when you need them – if for the next day, cover them in clingfilm making sure there are no air gaps. If you’ve made them well in advance of your event, pop them in the freezer in an airtight container and defrost whenever you need them – they cope incredibly well with being frozen.
For the sauce:
Pop all your ingredients for the sauce in a saucepan on low heat and stir now and again until the mixture is fully homogenised and the sugar crystals are dissolved. It should only take about 10-15 minutes. The sauce too, once cooled completely, can be put into an airtight container and will last for weeks if not months. Store in a cool, dark place.
To serve the puddings:
Pre-heat the grill to its highest setting. Place your puddings on a foil lined baking tray and pour a little of the sauce over each pudding. Pop them under the grill, so the tops of the puddings are about 5 inches from the heat (if you’ve topped them with pecans, brush off any nuts to prevent them burning) and let them heat through for about 8 minutes. The tops will crisp up to become a little crunchy and the sauce will bubble.
Serve with chilled single cream or ice cream – and a little extra sauce for good measure. And when your guests gasp with delight at every mouthful, try not to give away how easy it was to achieve these little pillars of decadence!