I was watching Anne of Green Gables* with my 9 year old daughter recently. I had to cajole her into watching it with me and even though she indulged me for a little while I could see that it didn’t capture her imagination. Maybe the language is a little old fashioned, the pace a little slow… so we soon abandoned watching it right at the point where Anne (with an ‘e’) asks Marilla ‘have you ever been in the depths of despair?’. Well this morning, out of the clear blue, I certainly did feel ‘in the depths of despair’. I really don’t know what came over me but I felt overwhelmed, sad, tearful and completely wretched. The mood was quite possibly hormonally induced (it’s so much fun being a woman) and thankfully I managed to bake it out of my system.
Baking as therapy and stress release has worked for me on a number of similar occasions. It’s wonderful to concentrate on mixing a few simple ingredients and be certain that a mere half hour later you will have something deliciously comforting to enjoy. I have been in a date and ginger mood recently and these Date and Ginger Sticky Toffee Puddings are pretty much the apotheosis of all things sweet, sticky and fragrant with spices. If you are ever in a similarly bleak mood – or just simply in the mood to bake something really simple but incredibly rewarding to treat yourself with – give these a go. You won’t be sorry.
I baked this in Mini Pudding Moulds* but I think you can probably use a silicone muffin tin just as well. Smother your puddings in the Brandy Toffee Sauce and add a little pouring cream or vanilla ice cream if you want an even more indulgent dessert.
For the Brandy Toffee Sauce
100ml | 3.5fl oz double cream
60g | 2oz soft light brown sugar
25g | 1oz dark soft brown sugar
80g | 3oz unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbsp brandy (or dark rum)
Date and Ginger Sticky Toffee Puddings
150g | 5oz pitted soft dates, chopped small
2 globes stem ginger, chopped very small
175ml | 6fl oz boiling water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g | 6oz self raising flour
150g | 5oz soft light brown sugar
75g | 3oz unsalted butter at room temperature
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
generous pinch ground cloves
12 pecans to decorate (optional)
- Make the toffee sauce: put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
- Once the sauce is bubbling a little stir in the brandy and cook for a minute or two until it is syrupy. Transfer to a small jug.
- Preheat the oven to 160C (325F). Grease 6 mini pudding moulds with butter and dust with flour shaking off any excess. Alternatively grease a silicone muffin tin.
- Place the chopped dates, stem ginger and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl. Pour the boiling water in the bowl and let it stand for 5 minutes. The soda will bubble a little bit.
- Transfer to a Vitamix or food processor and pulse briefly until you have a sticky pulp.
- In a stand mixer, whip the butter and sugar until fluffy, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl and beating again.
- Add the eggs and a tablespoon of the flour and beat together until incorporated.
- Sift the rest of the flour and all the spices over the bowl and mix them in with a spoon. Fold in the date and ginger pulp and mix it in.
- Divide among the moulds filling 2/3 of the way up. Tap the moulds on your countertop then place on a heavy tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the puddings are firm and risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes then carefully tap out of the moulds. You may need to level the bottoms so that the stand up straight.
- Serve while still warm with plenty of the toffee sauce poured over each pudding. Decorate with a couple of pecans per pudding if you like.