It’s the beginning of the summer and my head is full of fruit desserts and homemade ice cream ideas. And despite of, not falling into “summer deserts” category these sticky puddings, the recipe tempted me a lot. And the result … well, we made them several times already. And I’m happy there are rainy days in summer too, so long as they bring me discoveries like this.
Sticky toffee puddings are relatively easy to prepare. They are impressive and yet modest – sounds like the dream dessert, don’t you think? These puddings are as suitable for dinner party as for a picnic or a lazy Sunday family lunch.
The popular British dessert in this case is made lighter by cutting down the sugar and substituting butter with canola oil and yogurt. But this modern classic have the same moist texture and intense flavours as the original and has the power to bring back childhood memories (at least if you grew in Britain the 60s and 70s).
The puddings are really good on their own, and if you prefer to cut down some calories you’ll like them even without the toffee sauce. And, of course, if you decide to indulge yourself, you can serve them with a ball of vanilla ice cream or custard.
Prep and baking time: 1 hour
For the puddings:
200g dry dates, pitted (or other dry fruits)*
75ml canola oil
175g self- rising flour + extra for dusting the cups
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g dark muscovado sugar**
100ml plain natural yogurt***
For the toffee sauce:
100g caster sugar
150ml cream, at room temperature
*The original recipe calls for dates, but I’ve tried it with a mix of dried fruits – apricots, plums and raisins, and the second time with just dry apricots. To say the truth there was no great difference in taste, but more in colour (darker fruits make darker puddings).
**Can be substituted with brown sugar.
***Beat it with a fork, so it is smooth before adding to the mixture.
Cut the dry fruits in small pieces, put them in a bowl and cover with 150ml boiling water. Cover and leave them to soak for 30 minutes to soften.
Prepare the pudding moulds (I use cylindrical aluminium moulds for pop ups) – cover the bottom and sides with a thin film of canola oil and then dust with flour.
Mix the flour and the bicarbonate of soda and sift. In a separate big bowl blend canola oil and sugar. Add the eggs one by one and beat well, then add vanilla extract. Add half of the flour and gently fold it in. When the mixture absorbs the flour, pour the yogurt and stir. Finish with the remaining flour, and remember – to achieve tender sponge texture it is important to mix as little as possible.
Preheat the oven to 180C/370F/Gas 4.
In regards to adding the dry fruits to the mixture you have two options – you can chop them in small pieces before soaking or when softened whiz them in a food processor until puréed. I prefer the first option, but it is up to you. Before this drain the dry fruits – they have to be moist and tender, but not damp. Chopped or pureed, add the fruits to the mix and gently fold it in.
Divide the mixture between the prepared moulds – they have to be full at 2/3. Arrange them over a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out almost clean. Chill in the moulds for about 15-20 minutes, and then, using a knife gently take out the puddings.
The toffee sauce can be prepared while the puddings are baking or just 10 minutes before serving. In a small pan heat the sugar and butter on medium heat. Do not stir; just shake the pan when needed. When the sugar begins to melt take it off the heat (do not allow to boil). Leave it to cool for 2-3 minutes, and add the cream at room temperature.
If the cream is cold, when adding it to the pan, it is possible that the caramel will harden and the cream can’t be easily blended. Don’t worry if that happens – just heat the pan over low heat, stirring slowly and methodically for some minutes. Slowly the cream will colour and the caramel will dissolve, leaving a smooth toffee sauce.
Before serving pour toffee sauce over every pudding. You can also decorate the plate with it, or use it as topping for vanilla ice cream, served along the pudding.
The recipe is adapted from Good Food Magazine, May 2011.