One of my favorite desserts is this decadent, over the top sticky toffee pudding. It’s a classic British dessert consisting of a date infused cake sponge with a hot toffee sauce poured on top. Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to round it off and you’ve got yourself a sensation.
I have developed a newfound appreciation for dates. They are nature’s candy with a taste that has more than a little resemblance to caramel or toffee, two of my favorite flavors. Even if you don’t like dates, I can’t see you not liking this dessert. They basically melt down into a golden sweetness that just deepens the flavor of the cake sponge. The intensity of the molasses deepens the flavor and makes for a luscious sticky toffee pudding. Thank you Brits, for coming up with such a revelation. I went straight to the source for this, and adapted a recipe based off of Nigella Lawson’s.
The sticky toffee pudding cake base:
The dates are first softened with hot water and baking soda, which breaks down their more fibrous parts. They are eventually added to a cake batter that’s composed of eggs, butter, molasses (which gives an intense and rich flavor to the cake), dark brown sugar, which also has richer flavor and color than light brown, flour, baking powder, a little salt, and a pinch of cardamom if desired. The cardamom gives this a little more of an exotic feel, a twist of Indian or Arabic flavor.
The sauce ingredients:
Butter, more dark brown sugar, molasses and heavy cream very quickly combine on the stove top to produce a dark and sticky, rich toffee sauce. It’ll be very difficult to not sneak a few bites of this. It’ll thicken a little as it stands, and if you store any extra in the fridge, just microwave for a few seconds to get it hot and loose again.
Extra toffee sauce for those so inclined (me! I discuss my extra sauce proclivity in this Kunafa recipe here) , and something to cut the sweetness. This can be good quality vanilla ice cream, or whipped cream. Serve the cake warm, after the cake has had its 20 minute soaking time! Your guests will be enthralled.
Store any leftovers (yeah, what are those?) tightly covered with foil in the fridge. To eat, just warm up in the microwave , and also microwave any extra sauce for topping if desired.
The Best Sticky Toffee Pudding
For the cake:
- 200 g soft pitted dried dates, roughly chopped
- 200 ml boiling water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 50 g dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 150 g flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cardamom optional
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the toffee sauce:
- 150 g unsalted butter
- 250 g dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 200 ml heavy whipping cream
- pinch sea salt flakes for sprinkling, optional
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Lightly grease a 9×9 inch baking dish.
- Place dates in a bowl, and pour boiling water on top. Add baking soda and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Cream the butter and molasses together in a stand mixer until well combined. Add the brown sugar and mix until combined and no lumps remain. Add one egg and beat until well incorporated, then repeat with the second egg
- Reducing the speed of the stand mixer, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom if using. Stir until combined and a thick smooth batter forms. Add in the dates with any of their remaining water and fold in until just combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Make the sauce while cake is in the oven.
To make the toffee sauce:
- Combine the butter, molasses and sugar in a saucepan over low heat, and stir gently until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved. Add the whipping cream, increase the heat to medium and bring sauce to a boil. Once it has started to bubble remove from the heat.
- As soon as the cake is out of the oven, poke it all over with a toothpick or skewer, creating small holes. Pour about 1/4 of the warm toffee sauce all over the cake surface until it has an even glaze across the top. Let cake stand 20-30 minutes to soak in the sauce, then sprinkle with sea salt if desired, and serve.
- Serve with the remaining toffee sauce on the side, and vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.