A week ago I took a spontaneous trip to Prince Edward Island. I hadn’t been to the island in nearly fifteen years and I was keen to a do a little beach hopping, so I seized the opportunity to go. With no plans in sight and little expectation, we managed to have one of the best getaways I’ve had in a longtime. I am now determined to never plan a vacation again. When nothing is expected everything is a wonderful surprise, much like today’s recipe, which is courtesy of the island.
On one of the few sunny days I’ve had since arriving on the East Coast (I seem to curse this area of the world with rain every time I visit), we happened upon Dalvay House located just east of Charlottetown. Built in 1896, the resort was at one time the summer home of the former president of Standard Oil, Alexander MacDonald. Recently, Dalvay House became the host hotel to the Royals during their tour of the PEI countryside and to commemorate the happy event, the staff of Dalvay House placed a giant cardboard cutout of Will and Kate on the front porch.
I know… It was kind of weird, but I was totally digging Kate’s hat.
If getting a picture with the 2D couple is not enough for you, the adjacent gift shop is happy to supply you with an entire tea set bearing the same priceless shot of the happy couple. But if you would rather get the full scoop, locate any member of the staff and they’ll be happy to give a full play by play of the royal visit. I got the details at least half a dozen times in the course of 24 hours and I didn’t even have to ask.
But enough about the royals, I’m sure you’d much rather hear about the food. Dalvay House boasts one of the best restaurants on the island. They make a point of showcasing the best local produce and seafood in a relaxed, cheerful atmosphere. Everything was amazing, but this Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce captured my heart completely. The wait staff must have pick up on this intense bond (perhaps I was smacking my lips a touch too loudly), because they kindly offered me the recipe. I was so taken aback by this gesture that I very nearly fell off my chair. This would never ever have happened in Toronto, but in PEI, I suppose anything is possible.
I replicated the recipe a few days after returning home and here it is in all its glory. It wasn’t quite as good as the piece I had at Dalvay House, but it was pretty damn close and that’s good enough for me. I followed the recipe quite faithfully, but I did swap in a little fresh ginger instead of the powdered. I’m madly in love with in ginger, in case you were wondering.
Please make this! Please, please, please! Would it help if I told you Prince William ate it?
Honestly, its so moist and delicious; so wonderfully naughty that it’s well worth the effort. I have a feeling this pudding is going to be a very cozy companion come fall. Oh, and word to the wise, this dessert was made to be enjoyed with a good single malt scotch. They go together so well that I added a little scotch to the sauce. Shhh, don’t tell!
Dalvay’s Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce: Serves 12 if you have sense, 8 if you are senseless
1 ¾ cups packed pitted dates, coarsely chopped
2 cups water
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fresh ginger, pureed
½ tsp salt
¾ cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
¾ cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp single malt scotch (I used Redbreast)
Pudding – Preheat oven to 375°.
Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.
Place dates, water, and ginger in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat uncovered for 5 minutes.
Remove heat from pan and stir in baking soda. Mixture will foam.
Let mixture stand for 20 minutes.
While you’re waiting, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In a large bowl cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Mix in the flour mixture in three batches, beating after each addition until just combined.
Add date mixture and stir until combined.
Pour batter into baking pan and set inside a larger baking pan. Add enough hot water to the large baking pan to reach half way up the sides of the smaller baking pan.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes.
When done, remove pudding from water bath to cool.
Serve with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Toffee Sauce – In a 2 quart saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat.
Add brown sugar and bring mixture to a boil stirring occasionally.
Add cream and scotch and reduce heat.
Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened. About five minutes.
Cool sauce slightly and pour over squares of pudding.