For the toffee sauce
- 120g butter
- 120g light muscovado sugar
- 120g golden syrup
- Pinch of sea salt
- 100ml double cream
For the sponge
- 150g Medjool dates
- 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- 300ml boiling water
- 50g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 150g light muscovado sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbsp black treacle
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 175g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- First of all, make the sticky toffee sauce. Put the butter, muscovado sugar and golden syrup into a heavy-based saucepan and heat gently, stirring often with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved. Take care that the sauce doesn’t boil. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, then stir in the double cream.
- Remove the stones from the dates, then chop the dates roughly. Put them into a heatproof bowl and sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda over them. Pour over 300ml of boiling water. Leave them to soak for 10 minutes while you make the sponge – this helps to soften them. (If you’re not keen on dates, you could use raisins or sultanas instead.)
- You’ll need 8 small pudding basins or ramekins with a 200ml capacity. Grease them all with a little butter. Pour half the toffee sauce into the bases of the basins or ramekins, then transfer them to the freezer while you make the sponge. The reason for chilling the sauce like this is to help to keep a separate layer at the base of the puddings.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan oven 170°C, Gas Mark 5. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy using a hand-held whisk. Beat the eggs together, then whisk them into the mixture a little at a time. Stir in the black treacle and vanilla extract.
- Mix the flour and spice together, then sift them into the creamed mixture. Fold them in gently using a large metal spoon. Next, use a hand-held blender to blend half the dates and all their soaking liquid to a puree. Stir this into the creamed mixture with the remaining dates. If you don’t have a hand-held blender, transfer to a regular blender and blend for just a few seconds.
- Remove the pudding basins or ramekins from the freezer and place them onto a baking sheet. Spoon the sponge mixture over the sauce. If you are using ceramic dishes, wait a few minutes for the dishes to warm up a little, otherwise they could crack if they are transferred immediately to the hot oven. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes.
- Just before the puddings are cooked, reheat the remaining sauce. Take the puddings from the oven and use a skewer or wooden kebab stick to make a few holes all over the surface. Spoon some of the remaining sauce over the hot puddings and leave for a few moments to soak in. Turn out the puddings and serve with the rest of the sauce poured on top.
Sticky Toffee Apple Puddings
Cook thinly sliced apples with a knob of butter until the slices soften and start to caramelize. Add a few pecans, then stir in some of the sticky toffee sauce. Spoon the mixture onto the desserts just before serving – delicious.
Stem Ginger Ice Cream
Vanilla ice cream is perfect with Sticky Toffee Pudding, though a little stem ginger gives added oomph! Simply soften a tub of good-quality vanilla ice cream at room temperature (about 15 minutes), finely chop 2-3 pieces of stem ginger in syrup from a jar (about 20g), then stir through the softened ice cream and re-freeze.
Got a query? Let Sue help.
Q I love oodles of sauce with Sticky Toffee Pudding – any ideas?
A This recipe is quite generous, though you could always double the sauce quantity. Keep any that’s spare in the fridge to serve with ice cream (it will need warming first).
Q How can I achieve a really good flavour?
A Easy! Use quality ingredients that are already flavour-packed – real butter, muscovado sugar (either light or dark) and genuine vanilla extract. Now taste the difference!
Q How do I measure syrup accurately?
A Good question! Put your saucepan onto digital scales and zero them, then slowly spoon in the syrup to reach the weight required.
Q If I don’t have any black treacle, could I use golden syrup?
A Yes, though the finished puddings won’t be quite as dark, and will have a slightly different flavour.
Q The recipe makes 8 puddings. Can I freeze some?
A Definitely! They will freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw, then re-heat in the microwave for 30 seconds.
5 Golden Rules
- Choose the correct-sized dishes for best results.
- Assemble all your ingredients before you begin – be organised!
- Avoid overheating the sauce, or it really will turn to toffee.
- Be swift once you’ve added the bicarbonate and date mixture to the other ingredients – it starts to work quickly!
- Medjool dates are the best ones to use, though you can save time by using chopped pitted dates.
Recipes and food styling: Sue Ashworth
Photography: Jonathan Short