This past Summer, I had the amazing opportunity to spend nearly a month traveling all across the United Kingdom, from Brighton Beach, England in the far South, all the way up to Edinburgh, Scotland in the North, and pretty much everywhere in between!
I really loved the UK, even the grey and cold (yes, even smack dab in the middle of Summer it was chilly and raining), but I especially enjoyed the afternoon tea breaks (English Breakfast is my favorite) with simple scones and thick clotted cream, savory pies and pasties, but best of all, the AMAZING sticky toffee pudding!
Comprised of spice cake covered in warm, rich buttery sauce, this quickly became one of my most beloved puddings (what the Brits call the "dessert" course) in the world - salty, sweet, oh so buttery, rich, smoky - WOW! I'd have to do my best to not lick the plate clean whenever I ordered this dessert... which was far too often to admit.
I really wanted to incorporate this treat more often into my "regular" (whatever that is!) life back in the States, but didn't want to make such a heavy, weighed down indulgence that was just too rich to eat every day, which is precisely how often I intend to enjoy this.
Though my adapted recipe is not as sinfully decadent as the original, it's whipped up with the same flavors and ingredients, and is a lightened up version, using less sugar, more spices, better-for-you flours, and very little fat.
I simply brew a double shot of espresso in my espresso machine and allow it to cool, but you can use cooled leftover strong coffee or even a tsp or two of coffee extract if you'd prefer. I also don't serve mine with the infamous toffee sauce (which is insanely bad for you, though tasty), but you can easily do so if you desire. Instead, I prefer mine with a scoop, or five, of Fig, Maple & Toasted Sesame Gelato with Bittersweet Chocolate Chunks.
Enlightened Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake
Adapted from Tal Ronnen
Makes ~8 servings, if everyone has 2 squares
Printable recipe here
11/2 cups pitted dates, chopped (I just threw mine in the mini food processor & pulsed a few times)
1 tsp baking soda
5 TBS Earth Balance or coconut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, coconut sugar, or maple sugar
2 TBS ground flaxseeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz (double shot) of espresso, or strong coffee, cooled, or coffee extract
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
11/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch square glass baking pan with parchment paper, spray all over with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the chopped dates and simmer over low heat for ~5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat, add the 1 tsp of baking soda, and stir well to incorporate. The mixture will bubble up a bit. Set aside and allow the date mixture to sit for 20 minutes, so the baking soda can do its work and break down the fiber of the dates.
Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl cream the Earth Balance or coconut butter and preferred sugar until fluffy. In a separate small bowl, with a small whisk or fork, whip the ground flaxseeds with 1/3 cup water until frothy, resembling raw whipped up egg whites in texture. Add the whipped flaxseed mixture to the brown sugar/Earth balance mixture and mix on medium speed until all is well blended together. Add the cooled espresso and vanilla extract to the date mixture, once it's cooled a bit, and stir to combine.
Add the date mixture to the brown sugar mixture and stir to combine. Add in the flours, baking powder, and all remaining spices, mixing gently just until all ingredients are incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake isn't jiggly when the pan is slightly shaken. Let cool for 15 minutes, then cut into squares (I cut mine into 16 large squares). Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, salted caramel or toffee sauce, or, as I prefer, with a scoop of Fig, Maple & Toasted Sesame Gelato with Bittersweet Chocolate Chunks.