2000s Recipes + Menus

Red-Date Sticky Toffee Pudding

  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:1 1/4 hr
March 2009
Red dates, also known as jujubes, have a meaty, prunelike sweetness. In Asia, they are used in both savory (see Short Rib and Vegetable Stew.) and sweet dishes. Here, they go sweet—and, interestingly, British. Because red dates (which aren’t true dates at all) tend to be dry and have tough skins, we simmer them until soft, then purée them and force them through a sieve. It’s an extra step that makes a world of difference in this dessert—it results in a fine texture and the whole thing is more nuanced than a traditional sticky toffee pudding (but still just as gooey as you want it to be).

For Cake

  • 6 oz dried red dates (1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for sticky toffee glaze

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Make cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour an 8- by 2-inch round cake pan.
  • Simmer dates in water (1 3/4 cups) in a small heavy saucepan, covered, until soft, about 10 minutes. Let stand, covered, off heat 5 minutes. Purée dates with cooking liquid in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids). Force purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and date purée. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined.
  • Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Make glaze while cake bakes:

  • Bring cream to a boil with butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a 2-qt heavy saucepan over medium heat, then boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and cover.
  • Pierce hot cake in pan all over at 1-inch intervals with a chopstick. Gradually pour half of warm glaze evenly over cake, then let stand until most has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  • Run a thin knife around edge of pan. Invert cake onto a plate. Pour remaining warm sauce over cake and serve immediately.
Cooks’ notes:
  • Dates can be cooked and puréed 1 day ahead and chilled.
  • Glaze can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat before using.
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