Sticky Toffee Pudding Cakes

serves 8

The pudding cakes are best eaten the day they are made, but the can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored for 2 days.  Just reheat in the microwave before serving.

For the cakes

1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/4 cups pitted dates, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices

3/4 cup warm water

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar

2 extra large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

For the sauce

8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter

1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon dark rum

Crème Anglaise or

vanilla ice cream 

For the cakes

Adjust the oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Spray eight 4-ounce ramekins with non-stick baking spray.  Set the ramekins in a roasting pan lined with a non-stick baking mat.  Bring a kettle of water to a boil over high heat.

In a small bowl combine half of dates, water, and baking soda and soak for 5 minutes.  Drain dates, reserving liquid, and transfer to a medium bowl.  In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine remaining dates and brown sugar and pulse until blended, about five 1-second pulses.  Add drained dates, reserved soaking liquid, eggs, and vanilla and process until smooth, about 5 seconds.  With the food processor running, pour the melted butter through feed tube.  Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.  

Gently stir dry ingredients into wet mixture just until combined.  Distribute batter evenly among prepared  ramekins.  Fill the roasting pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, making sure not to slash water into the ramekins.  Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil, crimpimg edges to seal.  Bake pudding cakes until puffed and small holes appear on the surface, about 40 minutes.  Immediately remove ramekins from the roasting pan and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

For the Toffee Sauce

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in brown sugar until smooth.

Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture looks bubbly and puffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Slowly pour in cream and rum, whisk just to combine.  Reduce the heat and simmer until frothy, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.  Set aside.

To serve, invert each ramekin onto a plated or shallow bowl, remove ramekin. Serve with the toffee sauce,  crème anglaise or a good vanilla ice cream.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!  

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