Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Sticky Pudding To End Your Life With

Sticky Date Pudding

A few weeks ago, the people behind Chew On That asked me one of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked in my life, and this is no overstatement. The question left me stumped. The question was “what would your last supper be?”

I can see some of you already going into blank stares, lost in thought about which gastronomic fare you would bookend your life with. Sounds rather morose I know, but don’t let me interrupt that pensive state you are already in and let me ask you this same question. When faced with the last supper of your life, what would you get the chef to cook up? What would be the perfect culinary ending to your life? What after tastes do you want lingering on your tongue as you enter the after life?

Spoonful of Sugar

I had to tell the ever so patient people at Chew On That, that I needed some time to think about it, and even when presented with the deadline, I gave them the first thing that came off the top of my head. The thing is, my last supper was far from my mind, it’s not something one thinks about while day dreaming or even in their everyday thought. It’s not something I have even planned and want to plan, but nonetheless the question is a good one.

My answer was quite simple and succinct- my dad’s chicken curry with rice and a sticky date pudding for dessert. You might be thinking, is that all? I thought she was going to come up with something more meaningful and esoteric. But truth be known there is no overly existential and enigmatic reason for choosing what I did. I just drew from the imaginary inventory of meals and tried to pick out which one I would never tire of. Curry is always a hearty classic for me, and with some warm, moist rice, it’s the perfect overture into eternity and the pudding would just cap off what a great life it has been.

Four Takes- Sticky Date Pudding

The sticky date pudding is an Australian favourite; you can find it on the menu at cafes, bistros and fine dining establishments alike with many variations and meanderings. But the classic pud with sauce is how I like it best, and sweet is the only way to go of course. I have been looking for a “go-to” sticky date pudding recipe for some time now and it is only recently that I have found one that I am affixed to. It’s Neil Perry’s recipe from his cookbook Good Food, and is quite simple to make.

Perry states that, “this is everything you expect and more. Incredibly rich and full on- but if you can handle it, you will be hooked forever.” He couldn’t have been more right. The flavour is intense; obviously it tastes of dates, which obviously means that it’s sweet, really sweet, probably even too sweet. But if you look beyond all that saccharine overkill, there is a real depth of flavour that is sometimes missing from most sticky puds.

Caramel Oozes

When I am cooking for others though, I do reduce the sugar by about 50-75g. Also, Perry doesn’t mention anything about it on the recipe, but I also puree the dates using a hand blender, just so that the end result turns out a smooth and consistent crumb. You can bake the puddings in individual moulds if you are using them for a dinner party so the all you need to do is unmould them and pour the sauce over. Also he suggests reheating them in the oven if need be, but I found zapping them in the microwave for a few seconds is just as effective.

So if you do decide to try this pudding, beware it sweetness. It very well might become your last meal.

Neil Perry’s Sticky Toffee Pudding

from his cookbook Good Food
serves 8

10 fresh dates, about 230g, pitted and chopped

250ml water
1 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
100g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
150g self-raising flour, sifted
thick (double/heavy) cream

500ml thick (double/heavy) cream
110g Demerara sugar
2 tbsp treacle or molasses

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Grease a 27 x 15 x 6cm deep loaf (bar) tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.
Place the dates and 250ml water into a pan and bring to the boil over medium heat.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the bicarb soda- the mixture will begin to bubble up. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
Fold the flour and the date mixture alternatively into the butter mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and bake for 50 minutes, or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

To make the sauce, combine the cream, sugar and treacle in a small pan and stir constantly over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly.

To serve, turn the warm pudding out onto a platter and drizzle with half the sauce.
Cut the pudding into thick slices or squares and serve with the remaining sauce and thick cream.
If the pudding needs to be reheated, cover it with foil and place it in a 150°C oven for 30 minutes, or until heated through.


Peabody said...

Sticky Toffee Pudding I think would be right up there for me as a last meal, though I do think bread pudding has the slight edge.
Yours looks absolutely sinful.

Lin said...

Oh my gosh. That is the most incredible looking dessert ever. I must make it this week. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

You have no idea how happy you've just made me! I've been looking for a recipe just like this to make for my hubby.

Huge fan of your blog.

Truffle said...

What an outstanding pudding! This looks like an excellent choice. I don't think I could stop at just one serving though which is the perfect way to prolong your final supper!

Ganesha said...

Il à l'air délicieux ton pudding ! Je ne résiste pas. Et tes photos sont toujours superbes.

Andreea said...

first time i had sticky pud i thought i'll die of heart attack. never had one since - but i might just try this recipe. sounds divine. last meal indeed :)

Anonymous said...

Oh how wonderful! I could die happy if this were my last meal.

Thank you for posting this!
Ever since Haagen Daaz came out with their Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream, I've been hooked. Now I don't have to be constantly disappointed that the stores run out of that flavor and can make it at home now.

Anonymous said...

Jen, what is fresh dates??? I´am brazilian and I don´t know it.

Anonymous said...

Gosh.. the pudding looks fantastic.

Mari said...

i never knew sticky toffee pudding until i came to Europe, but i'm so glad to have added it to my list of taste sensations. looking at your pictures, makes my mouth water and wish for cooler weather!

Anonymous said...

Thanks! We're so glad you participated in our Last Supper initiative. This pudding is absolutely "to die for!" I'm so impressed with the recipe and the pictures, and as you know, everyone at Chew on That loves your blog!

Deborah aka Miss Bee said...

That sticky pudding is decadent looking! I had sticky pudding in England, but it didn't look that good! About your last meal...I see nothing wrong with that - I think I would join you.

Kajal@aapplemint said...

that question has got me thinking too ....i never thought about it ? another reason to eat good food all the time as u never know which will be your last meal :D . And i would definately die and go to heaven if i ate that lovely pudding you've got there.Fantastic pictures and a great looking pud !

eatme_delicious said...

wow that looks amazing! the first photo especially. i've really wanted to try making a pudding like this of some sort. i'm saving this recipe!

Aimée said...

I like your answer; I have no idea what my last meal would be, but this seems like a good solid dessert. Never had a sticky pudding though...

artemisia said...

That looks so yummy!

And that plate - DIVINE. Where did you find it?

Niki said...

I have never even had sticky pudding but it looks amazing! So gooey and mmmm...

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

oh my goodness, that dessert is quite heavenly- and decadent-looking - phenomenal photographs!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my! That looks so sinful, and so good.

Ali-K said...

I think I could die happy if that was my last dessert.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have never had sticky toffee pudding and you've got me craving it, Jenjen!

Unknown said...

Wonderful looking Jen! I love how you got the glaze flowing over so perfectly!

Anonymous said...

ah JenJen, splendid. I do not know whether I could answer the question. Would give me a headache to have to choose!

Jerry said...

It's like getting asked what is your favorite dessert. I was like there is a long list. Everything is really tied. How could you ever choose?
Now sticky toffee pudding is something I've had once, but I must make it, so I can truly enjoy it. Thanks for the recipe.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I keep coming back to your blog and seeing these pictures. That's it - I'm going to try to make this this weekend!

Anonymous said...

excellent pics - great pud! still loving your work..

christine said...

Oh be still my beating heart!! Jen, these look delicious! I used to eat sticky toffee puddings while living in London but haven't had any since I moved back home. Oohh I want some now.

ilingc said...

A great answer Jen. Ever since I moved out from home the thing I always miss most is my mum's cooking. I think if I was asked the same question I'd name my mum's curry laksa and sweet and spicy meat stew. ;)

ps. I'm drooling over the toffee sauce.

Amy said...

I want to lick my screen... my goodness that looks so good!

Half Baked said...

Sticky toffee pudding would have to be my last meal choice as well. Love love love it! One of the best desserts ever!

Sharon said...

I tried this last weekend and exchanged the dates for figs and it was so good :D thank you for sharing!

Joy Argow said...

I agree... Sticky date pudding... hot out of the oven is amazing! mmmm mmmm. I just posted a recipe I use over on my blog... has white chocolate in the sauce and cocoa in the cake. Its... slightly evil!

Nice blog to btw!