OK. Since everyone is so grinchily anti-fruitcake – and Christmas pudding is essentially dark fruitcake – how about a nice moist, sticky toffee pud? This one is baked, so you don’t have to mess about with a pudding mold and cheesecloth and steaming… technically it’s more of a cake, but what’s in a name? It’s milder than gingerbread, loaded with soft dates and fragrant pear and doused in caramel, which should make everyone suitably jolly.
Traditional sticky toffee pudding is made with dates – I’m a fan of the big, soft, sticky Medjool dates you can find in the produce section of most grocery stores; they’re nothing like the hard, dried-out dates of my childhood, or the bricks of dates you can still find in the baking section that require chiseling with a kitchen implement.
They’re simmered with water, then added to a basic butter-sugar-egg mixture along with a grated pear – it’s that time of year when I buy too many pears, which then turn overripe in the fruit bowl, but are perfect for grating into cakes and muffins and such. Move over, overripe bananas.
It can be baked in a bundt pan, but I currently have a collection of odd shaped bundt-esque pans and pudding molds in my basement, acquired over a lifetime of garage sale-ing, that are generally reserved for fruitcake and were perfect for a holiday pudding. (Or cake. Whatevs.)
The sticky toffee sauce is made thus: 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup cream, 1/4 cup butter. Bring to a simmer. Done. You could add some whisky or bourbon, but in this case I like the flavours of fruit, butter, sugar, vanilla and cream at the forefront.
The caramel can be made ahead, and really needs no more than a spoon… but I’m happy to have a wedge of cake to lap up all that caramel. (Next time, I’ll lob a spoonful of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream into the mix as well.)
This is what big long Christmas afternoon walks are for.
This sticky toffee pudding post was brought to you by Natural Delights Medjool Dates – one of my favourite ingredients I’m happy to be able to share more of! As always, all words and thoughts are my own.