Sticky toffee pudding is a rich dessert that’s basically an exceptionally moist date cake with caramel sauce poured over the top. Steaming in the slow cooker is an absolutely foolproof way to make it, and this recipe is heavily adapted from one from Food Network Kitchen. The hazard of STP is that it can be too sweet, with the honeyed taste of the dates combined with even more sugar in the cake. I balance all that sweetness by first cooking the dates with strong coffee, an idea I got from Martha Stewart. You don’t taste the coffee in the finished cake, but there is a dark, bitter-edged complexity left behind that’s just perfect. The maple syrup in the easy caramel sauce is also an unorthodox addition – but maple goes so well with dates.
Makes 6 servings
Does not hold well on warm
Prep time 15 minutes
Finish time 15 minutes
Slow-cook time 4 hours
Equipment 5.5-8-litre slow cooker and a 2-litre soufflé
For the pudding
225g pitted Medjool dates (15 to 16 large dates), finely chopped
120ml strong brewed coffee
½ tsp bread soda
150g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cloves
80ml pure maple syrup
65g packed light brown sugar
110g unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
whipped cream, for serving
For the sauce
350ml pure maple syrup
120ml heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
First, make the pudding: Put the dates into a small saucepan and cover them with the coffee. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and let it boil, stirring and mashing the dates with the back of a spoon, until the dates have absorbed most of the coffee and formed a paste, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the bread soda. The mixture will foam a little. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves. In a large bowl, whisk the maple syrup, sugar, melted butter, and eggs until smooth. Stir the date-coffee mixture into the maple syrup mixture, then stir in the dry ingredients until just combined.
Pour 950ml water into the bottom of your slow cooker. Pour the batter into a soufflé or baking dish that fits into your slow cooker, then set the baking dish into the cooker. (The water should come about halfway up the side of the dish.) Place a double layer of kitchen towel over the top of the cooker to soak up condensation, leaving some overhang so that the kitchen towel doesn’t fall onto the pudding, and then close the lid on top of the kitchen towel. Cook on LOW until the pudding is just firm and set on top, 4 hours.
Next, make the sauce: Bring the maple syrup to a boil in a small saucepan. Immediately lower the heat to medium-low to prevent it from boiling over. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, swirling occasionally but not stirring. Pour in the cream and salt, stir, and simmer gently for another 5 minutes.
Remove the pudding from the slow cooker and poke holes all over it with a skewer or cake tester. A little at a time, pour half of the sauce over the top of the pudding and let it soak in. Serve the pudding warm with whipped cream and the rest of the sauce on the side.
Good to know: This pudding is best served warm. If you want to make it ahead, let it cool before covering it with clingfilm and storing at room temperature. Make the sauce just before serving.
Extracted from Adventures in Slow Cooking by Sarah DiGregorio (William Morrow, approx €23). Copyright © 2017 by Sarah DiGregorio. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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