Monday, December 21, 2009

English Toffee Pudding

Once upon a time there was a little cafe in Winnetka, Il. called "The Pretty Good Cafe". This was a comfy, cozy neighborhood cafe with the most wonderful homemade food and desserts. The owner, Gail, ran it with the help of her son and a few friendly staff. It was a frequent meeting place for breakfast or lunch for me and my friends. I can't tell you how many times I went in there for the English Toffee Pudding alone. Each time I would beg Gail for the recipe, and if she was in the mood she'd give me a hint, but never the recipe. Eventually, due to unfortunate circumstances, Gail closed the doors on the Pretty Good Cafe. But...not before she did the most wonderful thing! She printed a cookbook containing all of the recipes she served in the cafe for all of her loyal customers to enjoy! O.M.G.!!! I now had the recipe for the E.T.P. I adored. But wait...was that a good thing?? I could now whip up a batch whenever I felt like it. This, of course, led to a diet once the novelty wore off. But I am forever thankful to her for this warm, homey, amazing recipe. I have tried several others, but trust me, this one is the best.

English Toffee Pudding

3 1/2 cups boiling water
1 Tbls. baking soda
12 oz. pitted dates, chopped
3 Tbls. flour
1 1/2 sticks of butter
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour, sifted
1 Tbl. baking powder

Bring water to boil in a saucepan. Chop the dates with the 3 Tbls. flour in the food processor. They need to be chopped fine or they will show up as pieces in the final product.
When the water is boiling, turn off the heat, add the baking soda and the date mixture. Stir to combine and set aside to cool to room temperature (you can refrigerate to speed the process).

In a large mixing bowl or mixer, cream butter, sugar and eggs, beating well. In a separate bowl sift flour with baking powder.

When date mixture is at room temperature (not before or you will ruin the pudding) add to egg mixture, alternating with the flour mixture until both have been incorporated.

Pour into a 9x13 greased pan and bake at 375* until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean - about 1 hour.

Toffee Topping

6 Tbls. butter
2/3 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup + 1 Tbls. whipping cream

Put all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until combined and bubbling. Remove from heat.
Poke holes in the top of the warm cake with a the handle of a wooden spoon. Spread toffee mixture over the cake as evenly as possible, making sure it gets into all the holes. Place the pan under the broiler for about 1 minute until the top is bubbly - keeping watch so it doesn't burn. Remove and cool or serve immediately. This also freezes well. If you freeze it, defrost and then reheat in the oven until warm. You can then slice it or scoop it out into bowls and serve with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche. Thank you Gail!

Note: If you have never had English Toffee Pudding, it is really a cake, not what we think of as a pudding. It is rich, dense and caramelly. And, oh, so delicious!

1 comment:

Barb said...

You're oh so right. It IS the best. I remember how hard we tried to figure out the secret ingredients and yes, then one day it was revealed and life has been good ever since.