Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding (serves 8 )
For the cake:
1 1/4 pitted dates, cut into quarters
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 Tbs butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour eight 4-6oz ramekins. Place a small round of parchment paper in the bottom of each ramekin. Put ramekins in a large roasting pan and set aside. Bring a kettle or large saucepan of water to a boil for later use.
Place chopped dates in a blender or food processor. Pour water on top of the dates and sprinkle with baking soda. Stir a couple of times to incorporate the baking soda and let sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
After the dates have soaked for 5 minutes, pulse a few times until dates are finely chopped, but not fully pureed.
In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, vanilla and the date/water/baking soda mixture. Add in dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Divide batter between the ramekins. Carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan taking care not to splash it into the ramekins. Fill the pan until the water is halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan tightly in aluminum foil and baked for 35-40 minutes, until cake is set and pits start to form on the top. Remove ramekins from the water bath and place on a wire rack while you prepare the sauce.

For the toffee sauce:

8 Tbs butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs rum (optional)
Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and stir until dissolved and the mixture looks puffy. Slowly add the cream and rum (if using) and whisk until frothy, about 3 minutes.
To serve the dessert, invert each cake on separate plates. Poke large holes (I used the dull end of a wooden skewer) and pour toffee sauce over the top of each cake. Serve immediately.
Recipe from Baking Illustrated

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