Sticky toffee pudding gets its “squidgy” texture from pureed, tea-soaked dates, which keep the cake very moist and are a favorite of food video producer Kiano Moju. Toffee sauce, spiked with spiced rum, adds further richness to the unashamedly sweet dessert, best enjoyed with a scoop of ice cream.
Black treacle, a British molasses-like syrup often sold under the U.K. brand Tate & Lyle, is sold in some gourmet markets or Indian grocery stores, and is available online. Search for it to make this cake, but in a pinch, regular molasses also will work to add the distinctly bittersweet flavor you expect in this dessert.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray or butter.
Place the tea bags in a liquid measuring cup and pour in 1 cup boiling water. Let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, squeezing to drain away as much liquid as possible, and discard. Place the chopped dates and baking soda in a blender, then pour in the hot tea. Stir to make sure the dates are completely covered with the tea, then cover the blender and let the dates soak for 10 minutes. When the time is up, blend the dates until completely smooth, at least 30 to 45 seconds.
Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt in a medium bowl.
Place the brown sugar, butter and treacle in a large bowl and use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula (or a hand mixer) to mix everything together until smooth, then vigorously stir until just beginning to lighten in color, about 30 seconds. Add one egg and use a whisk to mix the egg into the batter until it’s smooth. Add the second egg and whisk until smooth. Add the date paste to the bowl, scraping to make sure you get every last bit, and whisk until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and stir with the wooden spoon or spatula until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. The batter will seem too thin for the pan but it will rise substantially once baked.
Bake, rotating the pan once halfway through cooking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
While the cake is baking, prepare the toffee sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter, brown sugar and salt. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally, until the butter fully melts. Once the mixture comes to a full boil, set a timer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the bubbles are even in size and the sauce has thickened and is glossy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the spiced rum. You should have 1 ½ cups toffee sauce.
Once the cake comes out of the oven, use a toothpick or skewer to immediately poke 4 dozen or so holes all over the top. Slowly drizzle about ½ cup of the toffee sauce over the cake (enough to saturate it evenly), then let stand for 20 minutes to allow the sauce to set into the cake. Scoop the cake into bowls and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and more warm toffee sauce on the side.
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