Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

If there are two things I am absolutely smitten with in life, it has got to be Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake and Michael Buble. I stand by that statement any day. Did everyone see Michael's Christmas special? I was in bed smiling from ear to ear from the start. I may have giggled like a school girl and told my husband that I was swooooooooooning hard core. Here's where the conversation got weird. Jeremy actually turned to me and told me that hearing me say I was smitten with another (albeit celebrity) man actually made him feel a little...(wait for it)...relieved.

Weird right? I was like, huh? It's not like I haven't had other celeb crushes. Ben Affleck was it for a while, but theres something lasting about Michael, and I'm picky, so there really hasn't been anyone else who's caught my interest. See, it takes pressure off of him since I'm always telling or showing my husband how wonderful, sexy, smart, funny and charming he is (poor guy). I say I love you all the time. Like, overkill if there is such a thing. He'll sometimes look at me after I've said it the fifth time that night and say "okay seriously, stop it, crazy" and chuckle. I'll pretend to get mad and say he's rude. And so it goes. I think my husband is the pinnacle of a good man. I think he is the ultimate. I adore him. So, the fact that I got all giddy over Michael singing me  (and only me) White Christmas on TV actually relieved him from being "my perfect man" a bit. Apparently, when you grow up being the apple of your parents eye, and then on top of it, marry a spouse who thinks you hung the moon and the stars, theres some pressure. Some day he's gonna be like "Okay guys, step back. I'm not that cool. Seriously." Then he'll grab at his hair and scream "I'm just a maaaaaaan!" He's much more comfortable in company that doesn't think or hasn't yet realized the complete stud he is. He's a humble man, which makes him all the more appealing. He can't win.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

Now lest you think my husband is strange, I assure you he is not. He is the most wonderful, sexy, smart, funny and charming person in the entire world (poor guy). Like I said, I love him wholly, which is probably why we can tell each other these things. Why I am telling you these things? Heck if I know, but I thought it was a good story.

This is my husbands hand. I feel the need to clarify because I don't wan't you thinking I have man hands.
Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

One thing everyone in the world can agree to swoon over is Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake. Every. Single. Person. Whoeverlived. Ever. This the most wonderful, sexy, smart, funny and charming dessert there is. I'm determined to drive you nuts with that sentence. If this dessert were a man, I'd marry it because it's awesome sauce, like my husband. I can't believe I've waited 31 years to make it. We've all heard of sticky toffee pudding, but I never really knew what it was. I knew I'd like it, but somehow it flew under my Christmas radar for all these years. So, what exactly is it? Pudding or cake? It's cake, okay, but the moistest, most coziest, unassuming cake in the world. While it's still warm, you pour an insane amount of toffee sauce over top so it can seep in and soak every last morsel. It smells like brown sugar and butter. It's luxurious and over the top but simple and humble at the same time. Those kind of desserts are my favorite. And when a scoop of vanilla ice cream starts melting down in between the cracks of the cake, breaking up the caramel crumb...oh, you can just thank me later.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

My husband ate three pieces the first day. He ate two pieces the second day, and then three pieces the third day (I made two cakes). He has proclaimed that he has found his favorite dessert ever. And he is relieved that it is gone, or he'd probably have another couple pieces tonight. Moderation is not his strongest suit. He actually does have some downfalls. Oh, but it's so fun when he's not moderate, so maybe it's not a downfall at all. I told you he couldn't win.

*A few notes about the cake: Follow the recipe. Your gonna be all worried about adding 3 1/2 cups of water to your batter but just do it. You'll wonder about the 3 1/4 tablespoons of baking powder called for, don't be. Yeah, it's a lot of baking soda but it thickens your batter. Theres a lot of butter, but you are making two cakes so just keep that in mind when you start to get anxious about it. It'll be okay. People only eat sticky toffee pudding one season a year anyway.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake
adapted from Laura Donnelly, on Barefoot Contessa

Make 2 9-inch cakes

For the cakes:
1 pound dates, pitted and chopped
2 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 tablespoons baking powder

For the Sauce (for 2 cakes):
1 pound butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Place dates in a large sauce pan with 3 1/2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Then leave to simmer for 1 minutes before removing from the heat. STir in the baking soda (which will cause mixture to bubble up).

Cream the butter and the sugar together in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, occasionally scraping down mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract and then the flour and salt and mix briefly to give a lumpy dough.

Next, add the warm date mixture (water and all!) in two batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl in between mixing. The dough will now be quite watery but don't worry. Finally, add the baking powder (this will bubble up also).

Pour the batter evenly into the two pans. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer gently for a minute or two until thickened and well blended.

When the cake are done, let them sit on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then, loosen the sides of the cake by running a knife around the edges, and invert onto a plate. Poke little holes with a toothpick all over the cakes (more than you think. Keep poking) this will enable the sauce to be absorbed more easily. Pour the sauce over the cakes while they are still warm in a few batches. It takes a few minutes for one coat to soak in so you can add another. (I suggest pouring half of the sauce into another container so you can guarantee each cake gets the right amount of sauce). Leave the cakes to soak into the sauce for at least 10 minutes. Serve while still warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If you don't see the appeal of Michael Buble, and you're googling him, looking at pictures and thinking he's good looking but not anything extraordinary, I'd say you've probably never seen him in a an interview, or sing live, or host a Christmas special where he sings directly at you looking into your eyes, because that man oozes charisma, gentlemanly-ness, witt, and fun like no other. And, again, I stand by that statement any day.