Tuesday, April 24, 2007

bring us some figgy pudding

As many a cook exploring a new cuisine, there can be, of course, a wrench in the works. Many years ago, when I learned how to make handmade ravioli, I had tragically left half the pasta dough in the refrigerator, to the alarm of the dinner party I had assembled of 10 who were so hungry, and I was distressed at how little food actually came into being unaware that more pasta dough was sitting complacently in a fat little semolina lump being chilled.

A similar error came about the other day. Sticky Toffee Pudding in Warm Custard. It sounds brilliant doesn't it? On a trip to London last month, my friend and I stepped into a warm pub from out of the damp and chilly wintery mix night and shared this warm and comforting pudding.

Pudding is a word the British use interchangeably with dessert, more than what Americans regard as thick stirred custards flavored with chocolate or dappled with tapioca.

Winding my way through the local food hall stalls I ate a dried mini fig with its small seeds agreeably crunching against my palate. However, when I received my package of dried dates, I assumed dates and figs were similarly seeded.

You can imagine my alarm when I realized I had not "pitted" the dates as the recipe called for thinking it being akin to figs or blackberries where the seeds add texture, not the opportunity to perhaps chip a tooth!

Learn from my lesson and pit your dates, sticky as they may well be.

Individual Sticky Toffee Puddings in Warm Custard (the lazy way)

3/4th c pitted dates
1 1/3 c boiling water
1 c dark brown sugar
2 oz butter
3/4th c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
dash of vanilla
2 eggs

1/2 c cream
2 oz butter
1/2 c dark brown sugar

store bought custard sauce

muffin tins
immersion blender or food processor

Preheat oven to 400 F

Immerse the pitted dates in the boiling water and let soak for five minutes. While this is happening either take out a bowl or a food processor and cream the butter and dark brown sugar together, and then add the eggs and vanilla. Throw in the flour and baking powder and baking soda and mix making sure that all is combined. Once the dates have soaked for about five minutes use a food processor or an immersion blender to make them into a nice date-paste. Add the paste to the pudding batter and pour into muffin tins.

I have extraordinarily good nonstick muffin tins, but if you do not, either use muffin cups or butter and flour your muffin tins to make turning them out easier.

This is going to sound odd, but I ended up with eleven individual sized puddings using my muffin tins. If this happens to you as well, fill the empty cup with water (this evens out the heat in the oven).

Let the puddings bake for about 15 to 20 minutes. The moment the tops are firm, remove them from the oven.

Throw the sauce ingredients together and stir until all is melted and combined.

To serve, place each sponge (little cake) in a shallow bowl with a moat of warm custard sauce and pour the carmel toffee sauce on top of each pudding (about 2 T for each pudding).

Try not to melt entirely away with enjoyment.

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