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English dessert was either invented or made famous by Francis Coulson, the owner of the Sharrow Bay Hotel in the Lake District in England. If you want to make this dessert ahead of time, let the cakes cool completely and do not drizzle the sauce. Store in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, drizzle each pudding with 1 tbsp of the sauce and heat in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes or until warmed through. This recipe is from the book "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey" and it recommends serving this with vanilla ice cream. The desserts I had in England were more likely to be served with some cream to pour over them than ice cream, so you may choose whichever you prefer.
For the Cake
- 2 cups pitted dates, chopped
- 1 1⁄2 cups water
- 1 1⁄4 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3⁄4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1⁄2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Toffee Sauce
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3 cups firmly packed dark muscovado sugar or 3 cups dark brown sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- Lightly butter a 12-cup muffin tin or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Combine the dates and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the dates are softened and have absorbed the water.
- Remove from heat and stir 1 tsp of the baking soda. Let stand for about 20 minutes.
- While the dates are soaking, sift together the flour, salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, and the baking powder into a bowl then set aside.
- In another bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and then beat in the vanilla.
- Stir in the dates and any soaking liquid into the batter.
- Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet batter until just combined.
- Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 22-28 minutes.
- While the batter is baking, make the toffee sauce. Combine the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Cook until the butter and sugar melt together. Add the cream, vanilla, and salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens, 6-8 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and poke the tops of each a few times with a toothpick. Drizzle 1 tbsp of the sauce over each cake and allow it to sink in completely.
- To serve, spoon a little sauce on each dessert plate and place a cake, top-side down, in the sauce. Spoon more warm sauce over the top of the cake and serve immediately with cream or vanilla ice cream.