Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sticky Toffee Pudding and Chockablock Cookies

It's Tuesday April 27 and TWD collides with the Daring Bakers, so you get a two-fer. The Daring Bakers April Challenge was a steamed pudding and Tuesday's with Dorie selection was chockablock cookies.

Over at the Daring Bakers the April 2010 challenge was hosted by Esther of  the Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

The Daring Bakers is a group project in our house. I joined the group so that I would have a fun way to teach my children a variety of baking skills that I take for granted. Having made steamed pudding (cakes) before I wanted them to pick a British recipe, something they might eat at a British table. A google search revealed several traditional British recipes: Roly-poly, Hasty, Teacle, Stickey Toffee and Spotted Dick. Since I have teenagers, there was no way Spotted Dick was going to make it to our table as they just couldn't get past the name without minutes of giggling and jokes, so we finally settled on Sticky Toffee Pudding. Since we couldn't find suet, we chose a recipe that didn't require it but this cake still turned out to be a good choice. It was a nice moist cake, mildly flavored with dates and covered in a gooey toffee sauce. Since the recipe made more batter than my mold could hold we baked the remaining batter in a small cake pan in the oven so we could compare baked versus steamed. They both came out delicious and moist, so whatever way is easier for you is the way to go. To the baked one we added chocolate chips, which completely over powered the date flavor, but was delicious with the toffee sauce. If you wanted to make a chocolate pudding, replace about a quarter cup of the flour with cocoa powder, and  add some chocolate chips.
Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce
adapted from Gourmet May 1998

For pudding
• 1 3/4 cups packed pitted dates (about 10 ounces)
• 2 cups water
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 3 large eggs

For sauce
• 1 3/4 sticks (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
• 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 salt

Make pudding:

1. Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan or pudding mold , knocking out excess flour.
2. Fill the bottom of a pot large enough to hold you mold with water put a rack in the bottom to hold you mold just above the water and bring to a boil. I used my pasta pot placed the mold in the inner pot.
3. Coarsely chop dates and in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan simmer dates in water, uncovered, 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in baking soda. (Mixture will foam.) Let mixture stand 20 minutes. Pulse with an immersion blender to puree the dates; there should be some texture to the dates.
4. While mixture is standing, into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating after each addition until just combined. Add date mixture and with a wooden spoon stir batter until just combined well.
5. Pour batter into baking pan and cover  tightly with butter aluminum foil. Set the pan in the steamer, cover steamer pan with lid and simmer for 2 hours  (adding water as necessary to prevent the pan from going dry,) or until a tested inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove pan from steamer and cool pudding to warm on a rack.

Make sauce while pudding is cooling:
In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart heavy saucepan melt butter over moderate heat and add brown sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and stir in cream and vanilla. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Cool sauce to warm.

Unmold and pour 1/4 of the toffee sauce over top of cake. Pour additional sauce over each slice of cake and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
printable recipe

At TWD, Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet decided on Chockablock Cookies.  I was skeptical about these cookies, since they contained practically everything but the kitchen sink.  Butter, sugar, molasses, chocolate chips, coconut, nuts and raisins seemed like a ridiculously long ingredient list. I made 1/2 the recipe and got 18 large cookies, which disappeared fast. All of the flavors came together to make a rich, well balanced, crisp on the outsides and chewy in the middle cookie.

I used walnuts and included the raisins and coconut in our cookies. You could hardly tell the coconut was there, so it's not a deal breaker if you don't use it. Theses cookie are very rich and best enjoyed with a glass of cold milk. They would be equally delicious with cherries or cranberries and maybe white chocolate chips.

If you want the recipe for this flavorful cookie visit Mary. To see what the other bakers cooked up visit our TWD blogroll .