With Hanukkah in the rearview mirror, this dual holiday household is ready to turn its attention to the Christmas of it all. And what better place to start than on a sweet note? And it’s an Overthinking Classics episode, which is too perfect for a season full of food-related traditions. Although today’s subject, Sticky Toffee Pudding, pledges no allegiance to any particular holiday, to me it tastes like Christmas. Sure, I’ve had it at other times of the year. It’s particularly consoling in mid-February. But there’s something about this delightful sponge that just seems festive. Perhaps it’s the dates or the toffee or that fact that it pairs well with scotch, but Sticky Toffee Pudding is excellent at staving off the cold and cultivating an atmosphere of warmth and general coziness. What could be more Christmassy than that? So let’s dive right in.
So what is Sticky Toffee Pudding? Well, if you haven’t had the pleasure, allow me to introduce you. Sticky Toffee Pudding hails from the UK. It is a sponge cake flecked with dates and soaked in a rich toffee sauce. The pudding is generally served with unsweetened whipped cream, creme Anglaise, or ice cream. I usually go the ice cream route because a warm dessert topped with a creamy cold delight just makes good sense.
Sticky Toffee Pudding can be served as individual cakes, as I have done in the video below. Or you can bake it up in a brownie pan and slice it into squares. When I was growing up, we generally went the pan route. It’s a little less fussy than dealing with ramekins. If you have a large crowd to feed, I would recommend going with the pan. It’s easy to serve buffet-style. But if you’re having a small dinner party and you want to add a slight air of sophistication to the proceedings, try baking the puddings in ramekins. Ramekins are also a good choice if you want to drop off a serving or two to a friend. But honestly, you may not want to part with them.
Now, in typical Overthinking Classics fashion, I went fairly, well, classic. I did add some ground ginger and cardamom, which are not traditional but I do feel they do add a little something-something. If you’re not a fan of these spices or you just don’t have them on hand, you can skip them. Their omission will not affect the outcome of the recipe in any way. But beyond these spices, everything is fairly straightforward. I realize the baking soda step may seem odd to people not familiar with the dish but I promise it’s just there to help break down the dates. It also performs its usual function of giving the sponge cake a little lift, but mostly it keeps us from having to bust out a food processor, which is a bonus because I hate scrubbing mine.
I pretty much overexplain everything to do with this recipe in the video below, so I will keep my rambling here short. If you’re feeling any trepidation in approaching this recipe, the video should answer any lingering questions you might have. And if you enjoy the nonsense below, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. There you will find all the other installments of Overthinking Classics plus tons of other good stuff including not-so-classic recipes.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
- Hand or Standmixer
- 6 1/2 cup ramekins or 8×8 pan
- 2 small saucepans
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream divided
- ¼ cup unsalted butter chopped
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
Date Sponge Cake
- 215g (7.5 oz) dried pitted dates finely chopped
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¾ cup +2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 pint vanilla ice cream
For the Toffe Sauce
- Pour 3/4 cup of the heavy cream into a small saucepan. Add the butter, light corn syrup, and sugar. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to simmer and cook over low heat, stirring every so often. Cook until the sauce turns a deep amber color. This should take about 40 minutes.1 ½ cups heavy cream, ¼ cup unsalted butter, ¼ cup light corn syrup, ½ cup granulated sugar
- When the toffee sauce reaches the perfect shade, take it off of the heat and whisk in the remaining heavy cream followed by the salt. Keep warm until ready to serve.1 ½ cups heavy cream, ½ tsp kosher salt
For the Sponge Cake
- While the toffee sauce is cooking, make the sponge. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease either an 8×8 pan or six 1/2 cup ramekins with melted butter. ** Set them aside.
- Place the dates in a saucepan. Add the water and place over medium heat. Once the water is mostly absorbed, take the saucepan off of the heat and add the baking soda, it will bubble like mad – just keep stirring. ***215g (7.5 oz) dried pitted dates, ¾ cup water, 1 tsp baking soda
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine the all-purpose flour, baking powder, kosher salt, ground ginger, and ground cardamom.¾ cup +2 tbsp all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp ground cardamom
- Set the dry ingredients aside and in a separated bowl add the butter and light brown sugar. Cream the two together using a stand or hand mixer before the egg. Beat the egg into the butter/sugar mixture until smooth. Fold the dates into the wet ingredients.¼ cup unsalted butter, ¾ cup light brown sugar, 1 large egg
- Form a well in the center of the dry ingredient and add the wet. Stir to combine but don’t over mix. Evenly divide the batter across the six grease ramekins or pour it into your prepared 8×8 pan. Smooth the top and transfer to the oven.
- If baking in ramekins, bake the puddings for 30 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center and removed cleanly. If you’re baking your pudding in a pan the bake time will be closer to 40. If you used a pan let the cake cool slightly before slicing and serving. But if you used ramekins, let the cakes cool for 10 minutes before carefully unmolding them onto a cooling rack.
- Transfer a warm cake to a plate and spoon some of the toffee sauce over top. Add a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream and finish with a final drizzle of toffee sauce. Serve immediately.1 pint vanilla ice cream