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Sticky Toffee Pudding (Optional: With Rum)

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Author: Gretchen

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 2 cups dates, pits removed
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • cup dark rum (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup Demerara sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups flour

Topping:

  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup cream (Note: reduce to 1 cup if you want to use rum)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cup dark rum (optional)

To Finish:

  • High-quality French vanilla ice cream

Instructions

Make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-13” glass baking dish.
  • Put the 2 cups of pitted dates into a heat-safe container and pour 2 cups of boiling water over them. Allow to soak for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the soaked dates into a food processor along with 1 cup of the soaking water (or 3/4 cup, if you want to use rum in your cake). Process until fairly smooth.
  • Add the 2/3 cup of rum (optional), the 2 tablespoons of molasses, the 4 eggs, and the 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, and pulse a few times to mix. Add the chunks of the 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter gradually, pulsing each time.
  • Separately, mix together the 2 teaspoons of baking soda, the 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the 1/2 cup of demerara sugar, the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, and the 1 1/2 cups of flour. Add gradually to the food processor, pulsing as you add it, until you have a well-mixed batter.
  • Pour the batter into your greased baking dish. (If you have a cake strip that fits, use it; the cake will be unevenly puffy in the center otherwise. If you don’t have one, don’t worry!)
  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out mostly clean, around 25 minutes. (Be careful not to over-bake!)

Make your topping:

  • When the cake has been in the oven for 5-10 minutes, put 1/2 cup water and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, just until the sugar has dissolved.
  • STOP STIRRING.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and allow the mixture to cook, undisturbed, until it turns dark golden. Stirring it during this process can cause it to crystallize.
    Note: you can control how strong your sauce is by adjusting when you stop it from cooking. If you want a mild, sweeter sauce, go onto the next step sooner. If you want a very dark, bitter sauce, cook it a bit longer. Dark golden is my preference!
  • Turn off the heat when your sauce reaches your preferred color. Slowly but steadily pour in the 1 1/4 cups cream (just 1 cup if you want to use rum) while whisking constantly. Don’t worry if the mixture bubbles up as you begin adding the cream. Avoid pouring the cream in too fast, or it can seize up the caramel.
  • Once all the cream is whisked into the sauce, add the 3 tablespoons butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and (optional) 1/3 cup dark rum. Whisk until thoroughly blended.

Finish your cake:

  • When the cake is done, remove it from the oven. Use a skewer to poke deep holes into it every 3/4 inch or so.
  • Drizzle about half of the topping over the cake. As it runs toward the edges, use a spoon to scoop it up and try to get as much as possible down the holes.
  • Put the cake in the broiler until the topping gets bubbly and just begins to caramelize more. This should take less than 2 minutes, but check it every 15 seconds (yes, really) because it goes from “almost ready” to “badly burned” very quickly.
  • Allow the cake to cool slightly, but it’s best served while still warm! Cut a piece, top it with a generous scoop of high-quality French vanilla ice cream (this isn’t the time to use the cheap stuff), and drizzle with a spoon or two of the remaining topping.