sticky toffee pudding

We’re languishing, doing everything halfway. We’re halfway working, halfway playing, halfway sick(ing) (gotta keep it parallel), halfway eating, halfway writing. Even the weather is halfway weathering—a little snow, a little rain, a little sun—and the kids’ fighting is halfway, all aimless whining and bickering.

Everyone felt better yesterday, though, and that’s when I made this pudding. I had a house full of kids—seven in all—and none of them sick. They played hard and ate much and the girls even cleaned one of the disaster areas (otherwise known as a bedroom) from top to bottom.

One of my favorite meals to serve a houseful of kids, some of which are vegetarian (*!), is a large bowl of baked potatoes with butter and salt, a half gallon-plus of green beans, and applesauce.

The kids eat and eat and eat, and then I give them a dessert of some sort, often a cobbler or crisp, or maybe a plate of leftover Christmas cookies. Last night they got sticky toffee pudding with whipped cream.

I served it up and then quietly watched then eat. I couldn’t wait to hear their reaction (I’d snuck tastes and was totally head over heels in sticky toffee ecstasy), but they ate their dessert nonchalantly, slowly, minus any lip-smacking and mm-mming. The silence was unnerving.

But then, then! One by one the kids looked at me as though they were waking from a deep sleep. Their eyes slowly focused on my face, and, trance-like, they held out their bowls. “Is there any more?”

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Adapted from Ruth Reichl’s blog

Suggested variations: swap out the dates for raisins, add in pecans or walnuts, flavor the syrup with vanilla or bourbon. The pudding must, however, be served with whipped cream.

for the syrup:
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ scant cups boiling water

Bring all three ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

for the cake:
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
a hearty pinch of salt
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon each nutmeg and cinnamon
½ cup chopped dried dates

Beat together the sugar and butter. Beat in the flour, baking powder and salt (it will not be well-incorporated, so don’t stress). Slowly add the milk, beating after each addition. Fold in the spices and dates.

Pour the syrup into a greased loaf pan. Spoon the batter into the middle of the pan—it will float on the syrup. Bake the pudding at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until a cake tester (inserted only in the cake part) comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate.

Serve warm, with barely sweetened whipped cream.

*! My younger daughter proclaims she is now a vegetarian. This is not because of some great moral awakening, but rather because she wants to be twins with her vegetarian friend.

Also, she has renamed herself, though I can’t right now remember what it is.

Her teen years ought to be pretty interesting.

This same time, years previous: eyeballs and teeth, a rant against the boob tube


  • Melissa @ thelittlegrayhouse

    Ok…so I made this last night and OH. MY. WORD. It was sooooo good. The husband even liked it and he isn't a big dessert fan (I'm not sure what is wrong with him) I didn't have any cream to make whipped cream so we had a tad bit of vanilla ice cream on top, poor us.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  • Margo

    hahahha – I love your description of their trance! That pudding looks great. And that's a good kid menu to have up your sleeve. I'll remember that.

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