I have never eaten this dessert before. Toffee Pudding just seemed "old school" to me, sort of like grape nut pudding, so when my friend Gordon was in town for a visit, we decided to visit a restaurant I had heard raves about. The restaurant was wonderful, but the desserts were unbelievable (they got me at homemade gelato) of course, I had to order the chocolate terrine. Gordon, god bless him, chose the Toffee Pudding with vanilla bean gelato. When his dish arrived, it looked NOTHING like what I had expected a Toffee Pudding to look like. My mind pictured a wet blob with chunks of dates poking out. Where I got this image, I don't know. Gordon took his first bite and responded with...."oh honey"..... I knew I had better take a bite before he got close to finishing or we would have ended up in a spoon fight. I was pleasantly surprised, it was hard to identify the dates in this warm, moist cake that was topped with hot caramel sauce and the vanilla bean gelato, just took it over the top and back. I was literally rolling my eyes and moaning. I'll admit we did that with everything we ate, but I immediately told my partner in crime that I had to find a recipe for this dessert.
I did a search and finally came up with something that looked close to what I thought would work well, so thank you dishinanddishes. I tried tweaking it and experimented with a few changes, like brown sugar over white (overkill) and using the method of expresso and boiling water, but easier to use 3/4 cup of hot black coffee. I will add, that I did go to another restaurant and ordered this dessert again, but the pudding was more light and tender and in my humble opinion, totally wrong for the heavier caramel. This recipe was better.
Quick tip, since I made this dessert several times (yeah, it was that good). Spoon the flour into your measuring cup instead of scooping and sift your ingredients. There is a difference in the measurements when you scoop versus spooning. I also used an extra large cupcake baking tin because it's what I had on hand. It makes enough for 6 cakes. I purchased Ciao Bella's Tahitian Vanilla Gelato to add to the Toffee Pudding, which I highly recommend if you can find it. I could dedicate a blog to this gelato. I sliced up some candied ginger for decoration/contrast and I was surprised at how perfect it was with the Toffee Pudding. Lots of taste sensations going on. I have already bought more ingredients to make this again for friends.
Sticky Toffee Pudding:
1/2 (8 OZ.) package Majool dates (chopped)
1/2 t. vanilla extract
3/4 cup of hot coffee
1/2 t. baking soda
6 Tbs butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
pinch of salt
FOR THE SAUCE:
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350º. In food processor, add dates and pulse until they are cut into smaller pieces. Add vanilla extract, hot coffee, and baking soda. Pulse until pasty with just small pieces of dates visible. I let the food processor go for awhile.
In a stand mixer add butter and sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Turn mixer to lowest speed. Add sifted flour and baking powder and salt and just mix until incorporated. Add in wet date mixture and just blend. Do not over-mix. Pour into sprayed muffin tins and bake for 12- 15 minutes, until the middles are fairly firm. Remove from muffin tin and cool a bit.
To make sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir in brown sugar until it gets foamy, about 3-4 minutes. Add heavy cream and stir. Pierce muffins with fork and pour warm sauce over muffins. Serve warm sauce over warm pudding muffins. Add slices of candied ginger and vanilla gelato or ice cream.