Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sticky Toffee Cake

Dates are something we don't use very often. I don't know why- they're delicious. When I was a kid, my dad used to buy chopped dates to put in his steaming bowl of Grape Nuts. I used to sneak into the bad when he wasn't looking and snitch some. They were almost as good as chocolate. Then one day I realized that there are whole countries that use dates as the main ingredients in desserts and snacks (read: Middle East), and I went wild. If you're planning a trip to anywhere within a country or two of Jordan or Syria or Israel, please bring me back some dates. 

This cake uses dates as the main sweetener. Their flavor is very subtle- if you didn't know what to look for, you may not notice them at all. The caramel sauce makes it unbelievably rich and adds a bit of stickiness, as the name implies. It is sure to be a hit.

Sticky Toffee Cake
Recipe adapted from Gourmet March 2005
Pictures by Caroline

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus 1-2 tablespoons for greasing pan
1 cup flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt, 
1 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8- by 2-inch round cake pan.
  2. Simmer dates in 1 cup water in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, covered, until soft, about 5 minutes. Let stand, covered, off heat 5 minutes.
  3. Beat together butter and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in egg until combined. Add flour, baking powder, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and mix at low speed until just combined. Add dates and mix until just combined well. Pour batter into pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
  1. Meanwhile, melt remaining stick butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in remaining cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup water, and a pinch of salt. Boil over moderately high heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and sauce is reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, 2 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cover.
  2. Transfer cake in pan to a rack and poke all over at 1-inch intervals with a chopstick or knife. Gradually pour half of warm sauce evenly over hot pudding. Let stand until almost all of sauce is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  3. Run a thin knife around edge of pan. Invert a plate over pudding and invert pudding onto plate. Pour remaining warm sauce over pudding and serve immediately.

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