In the month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world will fast from sunrise to sunset and according to the tradition, a few dates and a small amount of water are used to break the fast, hence in line of this demand, dates are distributed in abundance.
I am not a fan of dates by itself but I do enjoy confections made with the sweet jewel. The overwhelming supply of dates made me think of a Sticky Toffee Pudding which is something I would crave for from time to time. Originally, the British dessert is a steamed sponge cake made with dates, drenched in toffee sauce and served with vanilla ice cream.
There are undoubtedly various baked versions of STP, and I would very much prefer it to be baked than steamed. Some recipes soaked the dates in water, some in coffee or stout. This recipe which I sourced from one of my favorite blogs, Lottie + Doof, soaked the dates in Guinness stout. If for whatever reasons that you are not into stout or alcohol, you can always substitute it with black coffee. I used medjool dates which is the preferred type for an STP and in my opinion, they are the best.
I totally missed out the dark brown sugar during my ingredients shopping trip, so I replaced it with what I had on hand which is the palm sugar that I bought from Cambodia. Apparently it is one of there specialties and I have to say the palm sugar toffee sauce was awesome! The cake was spiced with cinnamom and nutmeg and it was every bit the kind of STP I yearn for.
I decided for a chantilly cream as the topping, the cream nicely balanced the sweetness of the cake and the hint of vanilla in the cream makes the dessert even more divine. I once read somewhere that dates are regarded as an aphrodisiac food, so you might want to consider serving STP to your date.
Note: I converted the measurements from oz to grams.
1 cup stout beer, preferably Guinness stout extra foreign
1 teaspoon baking soda
170g medjool dates, pitted (took me about 8 pitted dates)
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (i use 1 cup only)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan with butter, line bottom with parchment.
- In a small saucepan, bring the beer to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the baking soda. It will fizz up a lot. Pour the beer mixture over the pitted dates. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Once cool, remove the dates to a food processor, and add a little of the beer mixture. Process until a paste is formed. Gradually add the rest of the liquid through the feed tube. The mixture will be smooth, dark and glossy. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) [she recommends 300F (150C) if you are baking in a pyrex]
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. In the small bowl, whisk the eggs. With the mixer on medium, gradually add the eggs in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamom, and nutmeg. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter and mix on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add half the date mixture and mix just until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with another third of the flour, then the remaining date mixture, and finally the remaining flour. Mix just until the batter is uniform in color and no steaks remain. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Using a silicon spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. The pan will be about 1/3 full.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. While the cake is baking, make the toffee sauce.
- Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. You can either unmould the cake, or just cut (into 12 pieces) and serve from the cake pan. Serve each slice warm, topped with about 3 tablespoons of the toffee sauce. Top with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or like me, chantilly cream.
1 cup packed dark brown sugar or palm sugar
1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (i used the bean paste)
227g unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a small saucepan, place the brown sugar and butter. If using vanilla bean pod, scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan and add the pod. If using vanilla bean paste, add it later.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the heavy cream, lemon juice and salt. Add the vanilla bean paste now (if using). Let it cool for a couple of minutes before removing the vanilla bean (if using) and serve.
Thought I’d just share my own version for the chantilly cream.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoon caster sugar
1 cup heavy cream
- Combine the vanilla and sugar into the heavy cream and whip till soft peaks. Use immediately.