Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

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.

Dates and Ginger

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.

Foamy Dates

I know… It was kind of weird, but I was totally digging Kate’s hat.

Dry Ingredients

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.

Sticky Date Pudding

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.

Toffee Sauce

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?

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

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!

Enjoy!

Dalvay’s Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce: Serves 12 if you have sense, 8 if you are senseless

For Pudding:

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

For Sauce:

¾ cup unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

2 tsp single malt scotch (I used Redbreast)

Directions:

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.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate

Peanut Butter Cookies

What do you do when a cookie craving hits and you’re far too lazy to walk to the corner store let alone exert yourself in the kitchen? You bite the bullet and whip up the easiest cookies around: peanut butter cookies. A bare bones rendition of this classic treat requires only three ingredients; they don’t even need flour.

Chocolate

I make peanut butter cookies whenever my would-be mother in law unloads a couple of jars of Skippy on my beau and I. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when she gifts us edible items, its just when I was growing up brands like Jiffy were frowned upon in my household. My father has a passion for all things peanut butter. For most of his working life his go to lunchtime fix consisted of a single piece of bread slathered with peanut butter folded over itself, and for my Dad only natural peanut butter would do.

Peanut Butter Balls

I will say this about the not-so natural versions of the legendary spread: they make the best cookies by far. Perhaps, its because they already have salt and sugar added, or maybe its due to their overly consistent texture. Whatever the reason, I tend to favor the likes of Skippy and Jiffy in almost all of my peanut related baking exploits.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax seeds and Chocolate

True to form, once I had mustered the strength to enter the kitchen I decided peanut butter, sugar and an egg was not enough to hold my interest. After scouring my kitchen for fun additions, I came up with a flax seed and chocolate spike version and they were a-ok!  The flaxseeds gave the cookies a bit of texture and made me feel a little less guilty about eating them. Chocolate and peanut butter is a no-brainer, but this gorgeous dark chocolate from Venezuela really sent the decadent combination over the edge. You don’t have to use fancy chocolate to make amazing cookies, but it helps.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate

These cookies came together in no time flat. My beau was astonished when I offered him a cookie fresh from the oven; he could not believe I turned them out that quickly. So, the next time your inner cookie monster starts to gnaw away at you, you know what to do. Pull this recipe out of your holster and you’ll be going to town on a fresh batch of gooey warm cookies before you know it.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate

Peanut Butter Cookies with Flax Seeds and Chocolate: Makes 24

1 cup peanut butter (I used Skippy)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

½ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup flax seeds

½ cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°

Grease two baking sheets.

Set your stand mixer on medium speed and combine sugar, egg and peanut butter.

Add vanilla, flax seeds and chocolate.

Mix until smooth.

Roll the dough into 24 small balls and place them on baking sheets.

Using a fork flatten the balls into cookie sized formations.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and leave to rest for ten minutes before transferring the cookies onto a cooling rack.

Serve with a tall cool glass of milk.