Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Queen of Desserts


Anyone who knows me knows how much I love puddings. In fact, I actually start reading a menu from the desserts working my way up. Of course the queen of puddings for me is sticky toffee pudding. I have therefore gone out of my way to perfect it. To me, it has to be light and fluffy, accompanied with a rich toffee sauce and of course vanilla ice cream, bliss. There are so many recipes around so I tried to pick the best from those I found. Below is what I think works best after having been tried and tested so many times, my waistline can attest to that!

I have found over the years that reading a recipe through at least once or twice makes it easier to follow. The ingredients are also listed by how they come into the recipe, something I’ve also found very useful.

STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING

Ingredients for the Sticky Toffee
200g pitted dates
250ml water (or enough to just cover the dates)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
55g butter (at room temperature)
170g Demerara sugar
200g self-raising flour
2 medium free range eggs (at room temperature)

Toffee Sauce
175g light Muscovado sugar
55g butter, cut into pieces
225ml double cream
1 tbsp golden syrup

Method for the pudding
Grease 8 medium sized ramekins (can also use a big one) with butter and Demerara sugar and place in the fridge ready for the pudding mixture (ideally for at least an hour).  

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Put the dates in a medium pan, pour in enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and mash the mixture with a wooden spoon to the consistency of a thick soup. Add the vanilla extract then mix in the bicarbonate of soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy. Add they golden syrup and then the eggs, one at a time and beat until smooth. Add the flour and beat at a low speed until well combined.

Pour the date mixture into the pudding batter and beat until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the pre-pared ramekins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Ovens vary so keep an eye on them.

To make sure they are ready, insert a metal skewer (or knife) in the middle of one of the ramekins, it should come out dry.

Let stand for a minute and use a knife around the edges to loosen the pudding from the ramekin and invert onto a plate.

Caution, use oven gloves or a tea cloth as the ramekins will be hot.

Pour the Toffee sauce on top and serve with Vanilla Ice Cream.


Method for the Sauce

Put the sugar and the butter in a medium heavy based saucepan with half the cream and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring all the time. Once the sugar has dissolved, add in the golden syrup, turn up the heat slightly and let the mixture bubble away for 2-3 minutes until it is a rich toffee colour, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom.

The sauce can be served at this point but to create that meltingly thick sauce, add the rest of the cream when you’re just about to serve the puddings and whisk it to thicken it all up.

Chef’s Tip:-

Placing the buttered ramekins into the fridge beforehand helps release the puddings after baking. The same rule applies to a successful soufflé.

When adding eggs, milk, flour etc. to a cake mixture, always start beating at a low speed gradually increasing speed as it combines. This makes for a light and fluffy cake/pudding.

If using the creaming a method for a cake, always have the butter and eggs at room temperature, this helps make the cake light and fluffy.

To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, soak them in a bowl of water for 10-15 minutes.


Happy eating.

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