Sticky Toffee Pudding
As a gardener I hold great admiration for the English gardening culture. Everything just grows so well over there. It's like the whole country has a green thumb. I'm also a great fan of a strong gin and tonic and a hot cup of tea, both of which I picked up while studying garden history in Manchester. Another English indulgence that I'm partial to is sticky toffee pudding. Don't expect this sticky toffee pudding to turn out like something from a Jell-O box. In Great Britain the word "pudding" can be applied to any dessert. It's really a moist cake with a rich toffee sauce. It's a great dessert for both special occasions and lazy days spent by the fire with a good book and a hot cup of tea.
To begin chop the dates. I do this with a food processor, but a sharp knife will work as well.
Toss the chopped dates in 1 tablespoon of the flour and set aside.
Whisk the remaining 1 cup of flour and the baking powder and set aside.
In a large bowl beat 4 tablespoons of butter and 3/4 cup of sugar. The consistency should be creamy and fluffy.
Now stir in just a bit of the flour mixture and add the egg. Beat until blended. Add the remaining flour and beat again until everything is well incorporated.
Bring the water to a boil and remove from heat. Add the baking soda and stir until it has dissolved. Add the chopped dates and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Give this a good stir.
Pour the date mixture into the batter. Beat a final time to get everything mixed together and pour into a buttered 8 x 8 baking dish.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 35 to 40 minutes. It is done when the top is a nice brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
To make the sauce combine 1 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup whipping cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons butter in a medium sauce pan. This mixture gets frothy when it boils, so be sure to use a pan large enough to accommodate that. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat and simmer until it thickens. This will take about 20 minutes. While hot the sauce will still be somewhat fluid. It will thicken more as it cools.
The cake and sauce should be served warm. Slice the cake into squares and pour the sauce over each serving. It's great plain or topped with fresh whipped cream.
Time to prepare: 1 hour, 15 minutes.