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.


chocolate beet cake with pistachio brittle

I love pretty much anything and everything involving chocolate. I also love beets. Now, I know what you're thinking: Beets in a dessert? Really!? But trust me on this one. The beet purée gives this cake a super moist crumb and rich texture, while the flavor remains über chocolatey. It's seriously decadent and oh-so indulgent, making it the perfect dessert for Valentine's Day, or any other date night! To top off this tasty cake, I add some sweet and crunchy pistachio brittle. I make mine with honey, so it's more like a cross between candied pistachio and brittle, but without the hassle of corn syrup or a candy thermometer! Add a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche, and you have yourself a seriously delicious dessert! Bonus points for sneaking in a vegetable too! Keep in mind, you can also make this cake ahead of time, as it tastes even better (if that's possible!?) the next day once it's had a chance to fully set. Enjoy!

Chocolate Beet Cake with Pistachio Brittle:

Cake:

  • 2 large beets, rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly brewed espresso or coffee
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup hazelnut meal/flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 cup coconut sugar

Brittle:

  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 cup raw pistachios
  • flaky salt, to taste

Toppings:

  • confectioner's sugar
  • ground pistachios
  • pistachio brittle
  • whipped cream or crème fraîche

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter (or use non-stick spray) an 8 1/2 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the paper as well.

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add two large beets and cook for about 45 minutes until tender. Run under cold water, and remove the skin with your hands. Process beets in food processor until smooth. You will need 1 cup of purée.

In a large bowl set over a sauce pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Once it’s almost all melted, turn off the heat, but leave the bowl over the warm water. Pour in the espresso and vanilla extract, stirring once, then add the butter and coconut oil. Leave bowl over hot water, and allow mixture to soften without stirring.

Sift together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until everything is incorporated. Let sit a few minutes to cool, then whisk egg yolks into the melted chocolate mixture. Stir in the beet purée.

Add coconut sugar to a clean food processor, and pulse a few times until sugar is very fine. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until stiff. Gradually fold the sugar into the whipped egg whites with a spatula, then fold this into the melted chocolate mixture. Last, fold in the dry ingredients. Careful not to overmix!

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and reduce the heat of the oven to 325ºF. Bake the cake for 40 minutes, or until the sides are just set but the center looks a bit underdone. Do not overbake! Let cake cool completely, then remove it from the pan.

While the cake bakes, make the pistachio brittle. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and honey. Let cook until sugar is dissolved. Add pistachios and stir to combine. Turn the heat up to medium high, and cook for another couple of minutes until the syrup evenly coats the pistachios and has thickened. Pour pistachios onto a parchment-lined sheet tray, spreading into an even layer. Top with flaky sea salt. Let cool completely until it hardens (about 1 hour), then break into pieces. You may make the brittle ahead of time, and store in an airtight container once fully cooled and hardened. 

To serve, dust confectioner's sugar and ground pistachios over the entire cake and top with big pieces of pistachio brittle. Slice and serve each piece with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!


*Adapted from "Extremely Moist Chocolate Beet Cake" from Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater.

**Check out Britt and her recipe featured on Garance Doré. Photos by Pia Moore.

**Substitutions: To make this cake dairy-free, substitute the butter for more coconut oil. This cake is gluten-free as written, and you may choose to use all hazelnut meal or all coconut flour if desired, however the texture may be slightly different. You may also substitute all-purpose flour for both flours listed if preferred. You can use granulated sugar in place of coconut sugar as well. My choices are based on personal taste and flavor preference.

 
 

carrot cake with coconut cream frosting

Carrot Cake is my all-time favorite dessert in the world- it was even my wedding cake! I love all the textures and flavors, and would really be happy eating it every day of my life. Everyone has their preferred way of making it- with or without nuts, raisins, pineapple, coconut, etc. After many trials and tastes, below is my version of the ultimate carrot cake! It's a denser cake that's full of tasty ingredients. I love the depth of flavor that toasted nuts & coconut add to this cake, along with spices like cinnamon & nutmeg. I wouldn’t call it a tropical carrot cake though, because you definitely won’t find pineapple in my version! Rolled oats add a nice textural component, but you may also sub out another type of flour (all-purpose works fine) if you prefer. I’m not the biggest fan of cream cheese, but I do enjoy the tangy flavor it lends to frosting in carrot cake. Alternatively, I’ve made a coconut cream cheese frosting using both coconut cream & cream cheese, making it a bit lighter & fluffier, but still creamy & delicious! If you use vegan cream cheese (or leave it out altogether), this cake is also entirely vegan & full of healthy ingredients like carrots, applesauce, nuts, and coconut oil, so feel free to indulge as much as you please! PS- I'm by no means a pastry chef, and am still learning ow to nicely decorate a cake in that perfectly precise way. Thanks to my husband for lending his technical skills!

Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

Cake:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups carrots, shredded (plus extra for topping)
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted & chopped (plus extra for topping)
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted (plus extra for topping)

Frosting:

  • 2 cans coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 9” cake pans with non stick spray, line them with parchment paper, and then spray the parchment paper.

Make the coconut cream cheese frosting first. Remove the coconut milk from the refrigerator, and turn upside down. Open cans from the bottom, pour out the coconut liquid (save for smoothies!), and scoop out the solid coconut cream. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk, along with cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whip the cream, starting slowly at first & gradually increasing your speed, until it’s nice and fluffy. Move frosting to an airtight container, and refrigerate to allow it to set.

Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl (oil to vanilla), then add the two together until just combined. Fold in carrots, pecans & coconut last. Pour the cakes into pans, and bake for about 30 minutes. Allow cakes to cool a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack.

Once the cakes have fully cooled, you may even them out by removing any domed shape on top (this will allow them to stack more evenly). Place one cake on a cake stand, add a layer of frosting, then stack the second cake on top. Add a thin, “crumb layer” of frosting over the entire cake, then allow it to chill for 30 minutes to set. Now apply a thicker layer of frosting over the entire cake. Top with remaining carrots, pecans & coconut as desired. Slice and enjoy!

*Can be made with three 6” round cake pans to create a 3-layer cake. Increase baking time to about 35-38 minutes.

**Adapted from Carrot Cake in Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.


chocolate soufflés for 2

These chocolate soufflés for 2 are the perfect dessert for date night, Valentine's Day, or any day! They are served in Staub mini cocotte pots, which makes them look extra fancy too! Although soufflés seem daunting, they can be executed easily with a few staple ingredients, and are guaranteed to impress. Don't forget a sweet & creamy sauce (think créme anglaise or melty ice cream) to drizzle on top! PS- if you want to prep these ahead of time, you can also cover and refrigerate the soufflés overnight before baking!

Chocolate Soufflés:

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil (or butter), softened
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • créme anglaise or salted caramel sauce (for serving)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Use 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to grease your cocottes. Coat them lightly with 2 tbsp cane sugar, tapping to remove any excess. Place cocottes on a baking dish and set aside. 

Melt chocolate with 2 tbsp coconut oil over a double boiler, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Whisk in the yolks one at a time until smooth. Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a clean whisk, beat egg whites on medium speed until frothy, about two minutes. Increase the speed to high and slowly add cream of tartar and remaining sugar, beating until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Take care not over beat. 

Add 1/3 of the meringue into chocolate mixture. Gently fold in. Add the remaining meringue and fold in until no streaks remain. Do not over mix. Spoon the mixture into prepared cocottes. Place in preheated oven and bake for 18-22 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately, topping with créme anglaise or salted caramel sauce.

*Adapted from Chocolate Soufflé by Real Simple.