Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Puddings: Sticky Toffee Pudding and The Heston

Sticky Toffee Pudding (0019) by Meeta K. Wolff  

Dessert first please! And the rest will fall into place. When planning my menus for dinners I am usually the type who starts with dessert. The sweeter side of life and the best first has been somewhat of a motto for me. It probably goes back to the days I was training in a pastry kitchen.  

Working in a large hotel kitchen was always fast paced and extremely exciting. The adrenaline buzz I got was immense and the high that the hustle and bustle usually gave me would keep me alive and agile for hours.

In the pastry kitchen, however, the pace was different and the adrenaline worked in various ways. Artists came together to work on individual masterpieces made of sugar, chocolate, flour and butter, creating a canvas colored with rich, vibrant and exotic sweet treats to capture the fancy of any sweet tooth.

Christmas was a special time in the pastry kitchen and I often felt Santa and his elves would have been envious of the commotion we caused in the kitchen during this festive time. Sure Santa brings toys for the children amongst us, but we were creating sinfully decadent desserts and bringing them to all living on the sweeter side of life.

Sticky Toffee Pudding (0017) by Meeta K. Wolff

How could Santa not be jealous? We came in early morning to the aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, bitter almond, saffron and everyday we worked with butter, chocolate, flour, sugar, and eggs making, luscious mousse, cakes, cookies, puddings and pastries. Picking the best ingredients to make supreme creations the adrenaline worked its magic on many levels.

What I loved about the pastry kitchen at the Sheraton in Doha was the magnificent influences from various parts of the world. The desserts of an entire world were created everyday in a sweet cosmos of a large squarish room tucked away in the back of a massive maze like main kitchen of a busy resort hotel.

I learnt about the decadent desserts of the world and studied with fervor, practicing and experimenting. I still do that today.

I was never much for the typical British pudding. In my opinion there were far more exciting desserts for me to discover. Then I discovered the ONE. The one Brit. Pud for me. Made of sweet dates, sprinkled with enticing spices and drizzled with a sticky toffee sauce – the Sticky Toffee Pudding was my pudding hero.

Sticky Toffee Pudding (0002) by Meeta K. Wolff

It was a start to a new discovery and I embarked on a journey, tasting and testing a variety of British puddings.

While Great Britain boasts of a plethora of traditional puddings from sweet to savory, it is probably the mere mention of a sticky toffee pudding that will get the juices in the mouth flowing. It truly is one of the stars of British cuisine.

Sticky Toffee Pudding (0010) by Meeta K. Wolff

Francis Coulson, chef and owner of the Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel, in England’s Lake District, popularized the sticky toffee pudding in the early 1960. Today, the sticky toffee pudding is found on menus in restaurants throughout the U.K. From the humblest cafeterias to the finest restaurants, each has a delectable recipe to tempt their guests with.

Heston Blumenthal Christmas Pudding (2) by Meeta K. Wolff

Chefs in Great Britain are giving the traditional pudding a facelift, with innovative ideas like this exquisite Christmas pudding created by Michelin star chef Heston Blumenthal. The Christmas pudding encases a whole candied orange and has quickly become the star amongst Christmas puddings. So much so that it seems Waitrose did not expect such a run on this creation and the Hidden Orange Pudding is running out. Apparently one can still buy some on e-bay for £129.

Jamie and I got lucky! While we were in London last month visiting Jeanne, we had the opportunity to indulge in this decadent dessert. Jeanne had received a box of the pudding and after a delicious meal of chili and cornbread we cut out generous portions and enjoyed it with scoops of vanilla ice-cream.

Well if you missed out on getting your Christmas pudding or are not to pleased by the thought of spending such a large sum of money on dessert, Kavey of Kavey Eats did us the great favor of testing several Christmas puddings available in the UK – it’s an awesome read!

Or you can allow me to cajole you into the sticky toffee pudding.

Sticky Toffee Pudding is a light, moist cake flavored with chopped sticky dates and vanilla, which is then served warm, soaked in a sticky toffee sauce made of butter, cream and brown sugar.

If you can buy Medjool dates, they are soft, sticky and full of intensive flavor that resembles toffee.

In other words – heaven!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Printable version of recipe here

Ingredients

200g dried Medjool  dates , stoned and chopped
175g all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon ground mixed spices. I used ground allspice, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves.
85g butter , softened
175g brown sugar
2 eggs , beaten

For the toffee sauce

100g muscovado sugar
100g butter
14oml heavy cream


Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter an ovenproof dish or individual ramekin bowls.


  2. Put the dates in a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda and cover with 200ml of boiling water. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes to soften, then drain.
    Process the dates in a food processer to a thick purée.


  3. Beat the butter and brown sugar together with electric beaters until pale, thick and creamy, then beat in the eggs, flour, baking powder and spices. Fold in the date mixture and pour into the buttered ovenproof dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is springy and just firm to touch.


  4. In the meantime make the toffee sauce by putting the muscovado sugar, butter and cream in a saucepan over low heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Cook until the sauce takes on a divine toffee color. Cut the pudding into squares, or turn the pudding out on plates if baked in individual bowls. Drizzle with the warm sauce and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

 


Verdict

Sticky Toffee Pudding (0009) by Meeta K. Wolff 

Rich, sticky, sweet and incredibly addictive – the components that make a dessert memorable. I know there are a few who will share my sentiments. I love the concentrated flavor of toffee in this. It is smoky, rich and caramel-y. The sponge pudding is light and fluffy aromatized with the seductive spices. Perfect to have dessert first – don’t you think?

I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! May you have a blessed and relaxed time with your family and hope Santa is exceptionally generous. I’m in the midst of preparing my Christmas Eve menu and doing last minute shopping.

I’ll see you next week with a luxurious chocolate breakfast! In the meantime I leave you with a few more dessert ideas below and a dreamy winter morning scene in Weimar.

Early Morning in  Weimar 2010 (0001) by Meeta K. Wolff

From Plate to Page

We invite you over to the From Plate to Page blog as we showcase brilliant food photographer William Brinson. He shares a few secrets and tips and tells us how How Food Found Him.

You might like these Christmas Desserts from WFLH:

White Chocolate Cardamom Mousse with Spekulatius Crumbs Layered Cranberry and Mango Mousse Chocolate & Coconut French Yule Log

 


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2010 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

42 comments :

  1. Look.. If I had a children, I would read your post aloud for him, your writing is sweet and soothing, as all your desserts!
    I especially loved this one for the English accent it brings to the table! Merry Christmas Meeta, to you and all your family! May the New year bring you love and satisfaction!

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  2. Stunning winter morning scene meeta...with flu bugging me i sure need this pudding now :-)...Merry Xmas to you, Soeren and Tom..cant wait for yr chocolate brkfast post!

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  3. Lucky you! Chef Heston Blumenthal's Christmas pudding with a whole candied orange inside sounds amazing. My favorite part of Sticky Toffee Pudding is the toffee sauce, I think it's what really makes this dessert so stellar. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

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  4. Wonderful looking pudding, just makes me drool..wishing u and ur family a happy xmas..

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  5. I totally agree - British desserts don't do much for me either, with the big exception of sticky toffee pudding. It's so easy to make, and goes down a treat with the warm toffee sauce and some vanilla ice cream.

    I haven't tried Heston's Christmas pudding because a)I didn't have the foresight to buy one, and b)I'm not really into Christmas pudding! But it's quite entertaining reading about it and the furore it's caused!

    A big Merry Christmas to you and your family, and all the best for 2011. Hugs, Michele

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  6. merry christmas meeta - hope you are blessed with many sweet concoctions and some excellent pudding!

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  7. The sticky toffee pudding is one of my favourites, so comforting in this weather!
    I never did get to try a Heston pud, it looks interesting, I think I would have liked the orange bit in the middle more than the pudding bit.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family Meeta! xx

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  8. I adooooore sticky toffee pudding (served with clotted cream by preference, please) but I've never made it myself. Maybe I ought to try?

    And thank you so much for your link to my taste test... so glad you enjoyed.

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  9. This pudding is so irresistible! Festive and so seasonal. Pictures 5 & 7 are stunning!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  10. This would be a delightful ending to any holiday meal Meeta. Have a joyous holiday wherever it takes you.

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  11. i know that sticky toffee pudding above is for me. so i'll just say thank you here. thank yoouuuuu !! =) what's not to love ?! medjool dates transformed into your "rich, sticky, sweet and incredibly addictive" dessert. count me in.

    wishing you, tom and soeren very happy holidays and an extra super sweet new year ! xxx

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  12. Step aside Heston, I choose Meeta's Stiky toffee pud over yours anyday!!!

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  13. Meeta ~ Would you believe that I've never, ever had Sticky Toffee Pudding??? I always thought it was like a spice cake and even though I knew caramel was involved (my very, very favorite type of sweet!) somewhere I'd gotten the notion that the 'cake' part was more of a gingerbread/spicy thing. And most, if not all of those type desserts are just way too strong. This recipe however, looks fabulous - and that whole candied orange? Wow.

    Merry Christmas dear Meeta, my new friend; I count you, Jamie and Jeanne as 3 of the best gifts I've received this year! xo

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  14. I had this for the first time last summer during a trip to London. I quickly fell in love. Can't wait to recreate it at home!

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  15. The pudding looks real gooey and sticky somewhat like the steamed Christmas cake. Would love to try it. Lovely click.

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  16. Loved this post! I'm definitely down with the sticky toffee pudding... especially since it's far more inexpensive than that candied orange pudding (and I'm sure, just as tasty!)

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  17. Gorgeous Meeta! You've really outdone yourself on this one! (i'm sure I said that last time too...LOL!) All the best for the holidays to you and your family Meeta!

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  18. Enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures Meeta. Merry X'mas to all of you.

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  19. Yum, yum, yum your toffee pudding looks decadent and I'm sure it tastes amazing!
    Can't wait to try

    Merry Christmas!

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  20. I love sticky toffee pudding, a good one is an absolutely joy. And you are so lucky to have tried the Heston pud, I seem to be the only food blogger in London who didn't get one!!

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  21. Sticky, sweet, addictive...and quite naughty like you Meeta. Great post, lovely banter and so much fun. Have a wonderful holiday season my friend! xoxo

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  22. I'm so glad you were tempted by at least one Brit pud! I can see how jam roly poly might not tempt a sophisticated pastry chef but how about lemon meringue pie? Wishing a very happy Christmas to you and your family and looking forward to reading your lovely blog in 2011.

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  23. Mmmmmmmm, STP! it's a winner every time - and we actually had it for desert at The Ship for the blogger Xmas lunch on Sunday! Gorgeous post - I can picture you being a whirl of creativity in the hotel pastry kitchen... The pics are absolutely mouth-watering as always. And I have finally written up our tasting of that fab Heston pudding - and the brownies you sampled with me! http://www.cooksister.com/2010/12/hestons-300-christmas-pudding-and-bluebasil-brownies-all-i-want-for-christmas.html

    PS - do I get credited as photographer's assistant for holding that backdrop? ;o)

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  24. This looks awesome and pretty decadent...simple brit puds are always delightful in the home, of course, drizzled with an unhealthy load of homemade custard. wonderful! Merry Christmas Meeta x

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  25. Wow. This is beautiful. I've ever had this recipe but it looks sensational. Merry Christmas!!

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  26. Ah, you can cook this for me anytime. I imagine this to be the kind of dessert, especially served warm and sticky, that one savors slowly sitting in one's favorite armchair, staring out the window and watching the snow drift down. The image is as soothing as this pudding must be. I worked for 4 years in a cooking school pastry kitchen as interpreter and I absolutely loved the ambiance, the bustle and excitement. Meeta, you have brought it all back to me. Beautiful post, and beautiful memories of you, Jeanne and I in her kitchen, living room, bed... and look forward to the next girls' weekend here in Nantes! Merry Christmas, darling!

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  27. Wow, this post just made me seriously re-think my Christmas Eve desert plans. I'd very much like to make it. Would you mind clarifying about the spices: is it 1/4 teaspoon *each* of those spices or all together? Thanks!

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  28. Oh I bet Santa and his elves would be jealous of you and your amazing creations :) Just looking at your pictures made want to jump into the kitchen and start baking! Sorry I haven't been visiting as often as I'd like, but the next year looks less hectic for me than this. You are definitely one of my top five favorite bloggers :)

    Happy Holidays my friend!

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  29. I am fine with dessert first, especially this one. Merry Christmas Meeta!

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  30. Sitcky Toffee Pudding is absolutely fantastic! The only other British Pud I like is almost the polar opposite, but I love it - Summer Pudding. One for summer, one for winter!

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  31. these look great but im unlucky i dont eat them.any way thanks.
    Happy holidays!!

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  32. Meeta, I, too, think dessert (along with appetizers) deserves the most attention. This one has turned out quite delightful and wonderfully sticky.

    Nisrine

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  33. Meeta, thank you so much for your wonderful inspiring pictures!!! i will just have to try to cook what you've did! ))))

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  34. Thank you Meeta for a fabulous, well loved recipe! I was searching for a figgy pudding recipe to make for Christmas Dessert as it is my husband's family's tradition but all the recipes I found were just too complicated AND I couldn't find black dried figs so when I came upon yours, I was ecstatic! Well, it was fabulous and very well received and it is now in my files under "Make again for sure!" Happy holidays to you Meeta!

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  35. Thank you all for all your lovely comments. STP is really one of the hottest puddings around! Great reading all your thoughts and feedback on it.

    Sam - it's 1/4 of mixed spices in total.

    Ben - good to have you back!

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  36. looks awesome! and I guess it's very tasty, too!

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  37. I have been looking for the perfect sticky toffee pudding recipe for my first try at this iconic dessert -- this may be it! I appreciate your specifying the type of date, because that is an omission in most recipes (and I live in the date-growing capital of the world, so there are a lot to choose from!) Important questions: how many servings does this make? If I use ramekins (my preference0, how many and what size? Thanks.

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta