I have always believed that you don’t really need an event to cook up a storm. There are many things that drive one into the kitchen such as a need for Chinese hot-pot during the summer to cure my homesick blues, or a Sunday roast on a Thursday night to tame carnivorous cravings, or a Monday night chocolate raspberry pavlova a la Nigella Lawson dessert just because a sweet tooth is begging for it. My kitchen is my sanctuary and I find stirring, chopping, and whipping meditative – it is time alone to be creative and feed my passion for cooking.
And thus it was an odd Saturday evening that I got sticky toffee pudding on my mind. It’s by far my favourite dessert of all time and whenever I see it on a menu, I simply must order it. The ooey-gooey quality of the moist date pudding soaked in a to-die-for warm toffee sauce…yum! To me, sticky toffee pudding has always been a restaurant-quality recipe, but let’s face it, it’s Saturday night and the restaurant crowds are insane. (My go-to place for sticky toffee pudding in Toronto is The Queen and Beaver Public House on Elm Street).
While I was debating whether to brave the crowd or just curb the craving by looking at pictures of puddings on my computer, my boyfriend chimed in from our living room, “Why don’t you make it?” After some pondering, I dove right into the Chatelaine Modern Classics cookbook and there it was! I did a quick mental checklist of the ingredients needed and to my surprise I had everything…as if it was meant to be! I am more of an improviser when it comes to cooking (i.e. not following recipes very closely at all – maybe that’s why I am not a very good baker), but this time I decided that I would faithfully follow the recipe as closely as possible.
The entire prepping, baking, and cleaning took just under two hours and the pudding was served just before 10pm in the comfort of our own home. The recipe suggested to top the pudding with fresh whipped cream, but I am a sucker for hot and cold a la mode desserts, so I topped my warm pudding off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled more toffee sauce on top. I presented the finished product to my official taste tester (the boyfriend) who took a bite and said, “In the future, I don’t think we need to go to The Queen and the Beaver anymore!” Yes! Success!
There was a little hiccup along the process. I accidentally got water into the batter as I was prepping the water bath for the puddings. I was in total agony for the first 20 minutes while the puddings were baking, thinking they would go to waste. It was a huge relief when the puddings turned out just right with an additional 10 minutes (total of 50 minutes, rather than 40 minutes) in the oven to balance out the accidental addition of H2O.
The toffee sauce recipe yielded a little more sauce than needed so I added some chopped walnuts from my pantry, mixed it into the toffee sauce, poured it over a flat baking tray and stuck it in the freezer and voila – walnut toffee candy!
With the success in making my favourite dessert, I am encouraged to start baking more in the very near future! Hmmmmm, what’s next?