One of my favorite holiday treats, Sticky Toffee Pudding is really a dense date cake totally surrounded with caramel. It is sticky AND heavenly!
I love Sticky Toffee Pudding; it had become a Christmas holiday tradition since first trying it decades ago. I have to admit that at first the name sort of turned me off, you know that pudding business? But it’s an English dessert and an English thing; what they call pudding is by all rights a rich and dense cake. That is covered in a maple/toffee caramel sauce. Topped with some whipped cream with a bit of Irish Whiskey. Perfect right?
Well close. I haven’t made this dessert in the last couple of years and this time around I decided it needed the entire British Empire! Cake recipe from England (sort of), Whiskey from Ireland and Maple Syrup from Canada…all put together by a cook in the USA.!
This is really not what could be considered an ‘old’ English recipe; as a matter of fact some history indicates it’s not really English at all. A gentleman named Francis Coulson developed and served sticky toffee pudding at his Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel in the Lake District, a mountainous region in North West England, in the 1970’s. Food critic Simon Hopkinson reported that Coulson told him he got the recipe from a Patricia Martin of Claughton in Lancashire, England. Martin had published the recipe in a compilation that later became The Good Food Guide Dinner Party Book, and first served the dish at her country hotel. As the story further unfolds, her son later told Hopkinson that she had originally been given the recipe by two Canadian air force officers who had lodged at her hotel during the Second World War. This Canadian origin makes sense, as the pudding referred to results in a cake more similar to that of an American muffin, rather than an English sponge.
I mentioned last month when I posted this recipe for Maple Roasted Turkey with Sage and Bacon that I’m working with The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers as a Brand Ambassador. Do you know what a lovely job that is? My role is to develop some recipes using maple syrup. Really? That’s a job? I don’t suppose it would fly if I just did a post one day with a photo of me guzzling from the bottle would it? I could do it. I love the stuff. Which makes me wonder…who doesn’t? I have yet to hear one person say, “Oh no Barb, please anything but maple syrup on those pancakes!” It’s like a universal love connection although I have to admit, I might have taken love to a new level. There might be some obsession involved. If I can use maple syrup in a recipe for turkey you can imagine I don’t think there are many things that won’t benefit from it’s presence. This cake? No brainer indeed.
My goal was not to make the cake taste like a maple cake, it is after all a date cake, but I wanted to include the syrup as one more ingredient that would result in an appealing flavor profile. There is a bit of the syrup in the cake and another bit in the toffee caramel sauce and together I do think it’s safe to pronounce this fact to be true; it is truly divine. Something about an older recipe with years of tradition combined with a warm cake, a delicious sauce and some slightly boozy whipped cream that just screams ‘HOLIDAY!’ doesn’t it? Yes, it’s rich but that’s good; this cake will serve a nice size crowd. Served after a holiday dinner or at a party, it’s just a little slice of heaven. Chopping Dates? Can be a royal pain...but I've found that adding some sugar to the mix helps a lot. Whether in your processor or if using a knife; sprinkle them with a bit of sugar and it helps to keep things from sticking and making this part of the job one you hate!
For the Cake:
For the Caramel Sauce:
To Make the Cake:
To Make the Caramel Sauce:
Can be a royal pain...but I've found that adding some sugar to the mix helps a lot. Whether in your processor or if using a knife; sprinkle them with a bit of sugar and it helps to keep things from sticking and making this part of the job one you hate!
I have been compensated for featuring Canadian Maple Syrup in this post however all commentary is my own.