I was absolutely in LOVE with the English Toffee Pudding Cake with Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise that is offered at one of our local wine bars. Like seriously, that, and the wine, is why I go there. They offer a variety of tapas that one could enjoy before dessert, but really, let’s just get down to the good stuff.
Well, I had been asking for said recipe for months, and though I was assured it would be sent to me, alas, it never was. So, I took matters into my own hands. After perusing through several recipes online, I finally picked and pulled from a few to come up with my own version of the dessert.
Now I just needed an “excuse” to make it, and some friends to test it out on. Well, that came in the form of the opening ceremonies for the 2012 summer Olympics. We decided to have a British themed dinner, and the toffee pudding cake would be a perfect ending.
And, oh was it! It was moist. It was decadent. It was…. well, it was good enough for our good friend and neighbor, Lynn, to shout, “It’s so good I want to roll around naked in it!” And I have to say, I agreed. (Who needs 50 Shades when you have food porn baby!)
Anyway, it pairs wonderfully with a nice full bodied cab. When at the wine bar, having a similar dessert, I often enjoyed it with the 2008 McGrail Reserve Cabernet Savignon. Don’t be tempted to have a dessert wine or port with it because that is a sweet tooth overload. The cab helps bring out the subtleties of the dessert, and enables one to appreciate the flavors more.
You MUST make this dessert, but be warned, I take no responsibility for the effect it may have on you or your guests!
English Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake with Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise
(Adapted from…. sorry, I don’t remember which sites exactly!)
For the cake
1/2 pound dates, pitted and coarsely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the toffee sauce
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1/4 cup heavy cream
For the cake
Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat 8 (6-ounce) ramekins with butter and flour; set aside.
Combine dates, water, and baking soda in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside.
Place salt and flour in a medium bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside. Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer over high heat for a water bath.
Combine butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until light and airy, about 5 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add vanilla extract, then beat in eggs one at a time, just until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in date mixture until well combined, then stir in flour mixture until just incorporated (don’t overmix).
Divide batter evenly among prepared ramekins and set them in a roasting pan or baking dish (you will likely need to use both a 13-by-9-inch dish and an 8-by-8-inch dish to fit them all). Pour simmering water into the bottom of the baking dishes until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Very carefully place the baking dishes on the center rack of the oven. Bake until the center of each cake is just set and a cake tester inserted into the middle of each comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the toffee sauce.
For the Toffee Sauce
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it foams, add brown sugar and vanilla extract or seeds, stir once, and heat until bubbling and the color of maple syrup, about 5 minutes.
Carefully add cream in a slow stream while stirring, and cook until the sauce bubbles up and increases in volume, about 2 minutes; remove from heat.
When the cakes are finished, remove the ramekins from the oven and place on a cooling rack to come to room temperature. Once the cakes are cool, run a knife around the perimeter of each and invert to remove from the ramekins, then place upright on a serving plate. Serve the cakes at room temperature or slightly warmed, covered in warm toffee sauce.
For the Creme Anglaise
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 2-inch piece vanilla bean, split
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
Combine milk and cream in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring milk mixture to simmer. Remove from heat.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Stir over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Strain sauce into bowl. Cover and chill. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)