Sticky toffee pudding is a hallowed British dessert which translates to American as “warm date cake drizzled with toffee sauce”. Either way you say it, it’s a deliciously rich and comforting treat, perfect for a chilly evening.
This is a line that (I will pretend) gets thrown at me on a regular basis by drive-by shouters at Nerds Farm: “Oy, mate! You, nerd with knife! I thought you were British! Where’s the sticky toffee pudding, eh? Call yourself a food blog?” Well, firstly, no, I don’t call myself a food blog, and secondly, ha, joke’s on you, fella, because I’ve been making sticky toffee pudding on a weekly basis, and damn good pudding it’s been, too, I just haven’t blogged any of it. I’ve been told this kind of churlish behavior is unnecessarily cruel to our readers, so at last, here is the proof of the pudding, be it both sticky and toffee-flavored.
Fudgy, ultra-chocolatey brownies kicked up with a salty pretzel crust and caramel drizzle. Want to win a bake off? This is your guy.
Have you heard? Have you heard the news about Great British Bake-Off? Have you? Have you heard it? Of course you have, I imagine it’s all people are talking about down your way. It’s certainly all they’re talking about in our neck of the woods. Of course, the show is not technically ending, but it’s been bought by Channel 4 and won’t have Mel, Sue, or Mary, and will no doubt be presented by Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell and Paul Hollywood all exploding in an underground parking garage or something. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, bless your very face, and go and find an episode or three. It’s shown on PBS in the US, and they have to call it “The Great British Baking Show” because apparently Pillsbury has a legal lockdown on the term “Bake Off” and will send goons, floury goons, to give you a right drubbing should you flout compliance.
Go ahead, call me a curmudgeon, a cynic, an eye-roller. A grump, a sourpuss, a grumbler. A killjoy, a grouser, a mutterer. A crab, a sorehead, a miserablist. A gloomy Gus, a doubting Thomas. Go on, I can take it.
The truth is, I think Valentine’s Day is a crock of $&@%.
I think it’s a made-up holiday designed to make single people feel bad and coupled people spend money. It’s a scam, people! *
Now, while I may be an anarchist at heart, I am also a hypocrite so, while I don’t require a fancy dinner out, I do enjoy a nice Valentine’s Day dessert.
(*Full disclosure – I’m married to a wonderful man who has taken me out many times to delicious, romantic Valentine’s Day dinners. I still think it’s a scam, but a girl can only take the moral high-ground so far before someone waves a confit duck leg under her nose and then all bets are off.)
This post is kind of dedicated to two people, and the first one is me (Matt).
At the age of, oh, about 12, I don’t think there was a single thing in the world – except perhaps, mashed potatoes – that I loved with all my heart more than butterscotch flavored Angel Delight. Pudding, to you.
(Notes – 1: Yes, we’re really big on singing made-up words like “De-smoothest” in British commercials. 2: Apparently, we like throwing maraschino cherries on top of everything, for no damn reason that I can think of. And 3: strawberry pudding is pretty foul. Other than that, 4: you get the idea.)
On as many separate occasions as I could get away with, I would steal down to the kitchen while my parents were elsewhere, mix up a bowl of Angel Delight – butterscotch only – and take it up to my room, wait for it to set, and have myself a little butterscotch pudding party for one. I’d hide the bowl under my bed behind a stash of Doctor Who books, and pig out for as long as I remembered the bowl was still there. (Sometimes I would forget. Sorry, Mum.)
The second person I want to dedicate this to is Fringe scientist Walter Bishop, because … because if you don’t love Walter Bishop loving pudding, you have a dead black heart and you probably work in finance.
I don’t know what Angel Delight did to corner the market in gelatinous butterscotch-flavored dessert, but I never found a packaged version that stood up to their original recipe. We returned from England last spring with three butterscotch pudding packets, now just a delicious memory. So I decided to make some from scratch.
This recipe from the Pizzeria Locale in Denver, described by Melissa Clark at the Times – didn’t seem too tricky – the only cautious stage is cooking the sugar to the correct temperature. She recommends a candy thermometer – I haven’t had luck with the kind that clip to the side of the pan, they tend to slip around, and with a relatively small amount of caramel, the base of the thermometer isn’t guaranteed to sit comfortably in the mix. So I prefer to use our Thermapen (made in England, don’t you know), which has a really fast digital readout with great accuracy. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it powers down after a couple of minutes unless you deactivate it by closing and re-opening it, so if you’re focused on caramelizing sugar, it can be a pain to have to wake up the thermometer at a crucial moment.
That’s all the nerdy gadgetry for this recipe; everything else is quite standard.