Sticky Toffee Pudding

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Boiling good beer won’t get a cook arrested, but some beer purists might argue that it should. This Sticky Toffee Pudding is worth the crime, though. An American will see that it’s really cake, known in British nomenclature as pudding because all desserts are puddings in Brit-speak. Don’t serve the cake without the sauce; it’s too dry on its own, and it’s not intended to be eaten that way. But paired with a pour of warm, buttery, vanilla seed-speckled amber goodness, it is sublime. The recipe is adapted from Saveur magazine. I don’t see the need to strain the finished sauce, as the recipe directs. Just remove the vanilla bean halves and be done. Those distinctive specks of seeds are evidence of a big investment in delicious flavor. (Have you priced vanilla beans lately?)

Sticky Toffee Pudding

For the cake:

1 cup Guinness Extra Stout beer

1 teaspoon baking soda

10 large pitted dates

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Bring beer to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan. Stir in baking soda and dates; remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a food processor; puree until smooth. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat together the sugar, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. With the mixer motor running, slowly add flour mixture, alternating with date mixture, until a smooth batter forms. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake about 30 minutes, until the cake tests done.

For the sauce:

1 cup packed light brown sugar

16 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped and reserved

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Simmer sugar, butter, vanilla bean, and vanilla seeds in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cream, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside to cool a bit.

When ready to serve, cut cake into squares and drizzle each with warm sauce.

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