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JOY OF BAKING

Sticky toffee pudding

(Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
By Rachel Travers
Globe Correspondent / April 29, 2009

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Serves 8

Sticky toffee pudding is a traditional British dessert that's catching on here. This is not a pudding in the way we know them (pudding is a catchall phrase in England for all kinds of desserts). Rather, this is a moist light cake speckled with dates and drenched in toffee sauce. The pudding at Le Patissier @ Troquet, made by pastry chef Sarah Woodfine, uses a date puree, which is folded into a buttery batter. After turning out individual portions, Woodfine lets the puddings sit in the toffee mixture for half a day so they soak up the goodness. Serve these with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

CAKE

Butter (for the muffin tins)
1 1/4 cups pitted dates
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter 8 cups in a muffin tin.

2. In a heavy saucepan, combine the dates, baking soda, and water. Bring it to a boil and let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes. It will foam; adjust the heat so it doesn't boil over. Set aside to cool.

3. In a food processor, work the date mixture until smooth.

4. In an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the granulated sugar gradually. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

5. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, beat in the flour and salt. Blend the date mixture into the batter.

6. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Fill the 4 empty cups halfway with water. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops of the puddings are firm to the touch. Let them cool slightly, then turn them out upside down into a heatproof baking dish.

SAUCE

1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream

1. In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar and cream. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil. Let it bubble gently for 5 minutes.

2. Pour the brown sugar mixture over the cakes, dividing it evenly. Let the cakes cool.

3. Cover the cakes loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least half a day so the cakes soak up the sauce.

4. To serve: Set the oven at 300 degrees. Warm the cakes for 10 minutes or until heated through.

Adapted from Le Patissier @ Troquet