sticky toffee pudding

I've had a love affair with sticky toffee pudding for quite a while now. This British dessert made from dates and toffee sauce is less a pudding (by American standards), but rather a rich and gooey cake. Since I was in London last week, I took the opportunity to seek out and indulge in a few versions of this local dessert- all in the name of research, of course- so that I could recreate a worthy version at home just in time for Easter brunch. Sticky toffee pudding is seriously decadent, super unique, and utterly delicious, making it the perfect Easter dessert in my book. It's best served warm out of the oven, so if you need to bake the cake ahead of time, just wait to poke holes and pour the sauce over it until just before serving. Cover and reheat at 300ºF for about 20 minutes. While this cake is super delicious as-is, a little ice cream or whipped cream never hurt anybody, right? Throw on some toasted nuts and the rest of the warm toffee sauce, and you'll be adding this to your dessert rotation in no time!

Sticky Toffee Pudding:

Date Cake:

  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted & chopped
  • 1 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Toffee Sauce:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

Toppings:

  • whipped cream or ice cream
  • pecans, toasted & chopped
  • extra toffee sauce

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and butter an 8 1/2 or 9 inch square (or round) baking dish. Place chopped dates in a heat-proof bowl, and cover with the boiling water. Mix in baking soda, then set aside to let soften. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then the vanilla until fully combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour and date mixtures to the stand mixer, alternating 1/2 of each at a time. Careful not to over-mix. 

Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with some moist crumbs still attached. Remove from the oven, and let cool a few minutes. While the cake bakes, make the toffee sauce. Bring the butter, cream, brown sugar, vanilla and salt to a boil in a saucepan, then lower to simmer. Whisk or stir constantly for about 10 minutes until sauce thickens and coats spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.

While cake is still warm, poke several holes over the entire surface with a chopstick. Pour toffee sauce over top of the cake, spreading it around evenly and allowing it to be absorbed into the cake. Repeat another time, leaving about 1/4 of the sauce for serving. If desired, turn oven to broil and return the cake to the oven for just one minute for extra caramelization! Careful not to let it burn.

To serve, you may cut squares, use a ring-mold, or simply spoon portions of the cake into serving bowls. Top with additional warm toffee sauce, whipped cream (or ice cream), and toasted pecans.

*Adapted from Date Cake with Toffee Sauce by Smitten Kitchen and Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding by David Lebovitz.