Today's Cook the Book recipe for chocolate sticky toffee pudding puts a multinational spin on a traditional British dessert. French pastry chef François Payard adds Dutch-processed cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate chips to the sponge cakes, and Irish cream liqueur to the sauce.
These individual puddings make ideal dinner party desserts. Not only are they perfect for a crowd (the recipe serves fifteen), but they can be prepared up to two weeks in advance and stored, tightly wrapped, in the freezer. Spoon the whipped cream on at the last minute. It will melt into the warm, fudgy pudding.
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- For the pudding:
- Vegetable cooking spray, for the molds
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 cups dried dates, pitted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup plus I tablespoon whole milk
- 1 tablespoon Irish cream liqueur, such as Bailey's
- 1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
- For the soaking liquid:
- 20 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 2/3 cups heavy cream
- 1 2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur, such as Bailey's
- 2 cups (480 grams) heavy cream
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray fifteen 4-ounce aluminum cups or muffin cups with vegetable cooking spray. If using aluminum cups, place them on a baking sheet.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves together over a bowl or a piece of wax paper. Set aside.
Bring the orange juice and 1/3 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the dates, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the dates are tender.
Add 1 tablespoon water to the baking soda, and stir into the dates. The mixture will foam up and become dark. Remove the pot from the heat, and let the mixture cool.
Combine the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, and noticeably lighter in color. Reduce the speed to low, and incorporate the eggs one at a time. Do not add an egg until the previous one is completely incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture, and beat until smooth. Add the milk, liqueur, and chocolate chips, and mix until just combined.
Remove the dates from the liquid, reserving it, and chop them into small pieces. Return them to the liquid and let it sit for a few minutes, so that the chopped dates reabsorb the liquid. With a silicone spatula, stir the dates and their liquid into the batter.
Pour the batter in the cups, filling them three quarters of the way.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the puddings comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and let the puddings cool in the cups.
Combine the butter, cream, and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute, then add the liqueur. Set aside until ready to use.
Once the puddings are cool, use a wooden skewer to poke holes in them. Reheat the soaking liquid over low heat or in the microwave if necessary. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of soaking liquid over each pudding, gently pressing to help the pudding absorb it. Reserve the remaining liquid. Let sit for at least 1 hour. You can soak the puddings up to 1 day ahead; keep them covered and refrigerated.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk the cream on medium speed until it holds soft peaks.
Warm the puddings by placing them in the oven for about 5 minutes.
Keep a close eye on them: they should be just warmed through. Reheat the remaining soaking liquid over low heat or in the microwave.
Unmold the puddings and place one at the center of each plate. Place a dollop of whipped cream on top of each pudding, and drizzle some of the warm soaking liquid around the plate. Serve immediately.