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In this Sticky Toffee Pudding, chopped dates are baked into a moist sponge cake, which is then topped with a rich toffee-flavored sauce. Add Rum Whipped Cream for a super delicious and impressive dessert!

I was first introduced to Sticky Toffee Pudding while living in Europe, and have been in love with it ever since. In Amsterdam (where I lived), the British retailer Marks and Spencer sold a frozen version of this pudding in their food hall. It was so fabulous, I never felt the need to make it myself. However, after moving back to the US, I missed Sticky Toffee Pudding, so I set out to find a recipe (or create one!).

Sticky Toffee Pudding or Sticky Toffee Cake?

Sticky Toffee Pudding is actually not what we Americans know as “pudding.” It’s what we call “cake” and is flavored with moist pieces of dates. The toffee-flavored sauce is what makes this dish so amazing. Since I love anything caramel, butterscotch or toffee-flavored (and the tastes are all very similar), it’s not surprising that I immediately took to this pudding/cake. What really surprised me is how easy it is to make!

Finding the Best Recipe for Sticky Pudding

In researching ingredients and recipes for this scrumptious dessert, I discovered numerous versions – from various restaurants, chefs, cooking magazines, newspapers, etc. Since this dessert’s origins are not clear (other than it’s British) there was no way to know which one, if any, was the “true” recipe. So, I set out testing a few to see if I could find one that tasted like Marks and Spencer’s Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Hands down, the best recipe I found was from Chef Shelly Steinhaus. During my quest (which was in 2010), Robert and I had dinner at Chef Shelly’s Denver area restaurant Bella Bistro, and we both loved her Sticky Toffee Pudding. Fortunately, Chef Shellie graciously shared her recipe, with permission to re-share. (Note: while Bella Bistro is now closed, Chef Shelly teaches cooking classes, hosts private cooking parties and leads culinary travel tours through her business Bella Bistro Culinary Studio.)

Back in 2011 I shared Chef Shelly’s original recipe. Since then, I’ve prepared it several times, making a few adjustments over the years. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that I can’t resist tinkering with recipes, adjusting them to reflect a bit of my own style. So, I decided it was time to update the post to include all of my changes. Plus, I recently shot much better photos of this pudding and wanted to share those, too! I’ve also included the recipe for Rum Whipped Cream, which I like to serve with the pudding.

What does sticky toffee pudding taste like?

This pudding (cake) is full of sweet caramel flavor. Toffee, caramel and butterscotch are all similar in flavor, and that buttery, brown sugar-y taste comes through big time in this dessert. First, the cake itself is spiked with chopped dates, which have a caramel flavor. Then it’s topped off with a toffee sauce that’s made from butter, brown sugar and cream.

Glass baking dish with a piece cut out of Sticky Toffee Pudding

How to make Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding is surprising easy to prepare! Here are the steps:

For the Pudding (A.K.A. Cake):

  1. Prep oven and pan.
    Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch square or 7 by 11-inch baking dish. Put water on to boil.
  2. Prep dry ingredients.
    Sift flour and baking powder into a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Prep dates.
    Chop the dates finely. Place in a small bowl and add boiling water and baking soda; stir and set aside.
  4. Mix pudding batter.
    In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar until blended and light in color. Add the egg and vanilla; beat until well blended. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Add the date mixture to the batter and beat on lowest setting just until mixed.
  5. Bake.
    Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake until pudding is set and firm on top, about 30 minutes.
  6. Cool.
    Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

For the Toffee Sauce:

  1. Mix butter and sugar.
    In a medium heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Stir in brown sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar melts.
  2. Add cream and finish.
    Stir in cream, bring to a slow boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir until it stops bubbling.

To assemble and finish pudding:

  1. Prep oven.
    Preheat broiler.
  2. Prep pudding.
    Spoon about 2/3 to 1 cup of the toffee sauce over top of pudding; spread evenly.
  3. Broil.
    Place pudding under broiler until topping is bubbly, only about 1 minute.
  4. Serve.
    Cut pudding into squares and serve immediately, drizzling remaining toffee sauce on top.
White plate with a slice of Sticky Toffee Pudding with Rum Whipped Cream
Is Figgy Pudding the same as Sticky Toffee Pudding?

The only similarity between traditional Figgy Pudding and Sticky Toffee Pudding is that they are both British. Sticky Toffee Pudding is a moist sponge cake spiced with dates that’s baked and served with a toffee-flavored sauce. Figgy Pudding, on the other hand, is steamed and made with suet (raw beef or mutton fat), eggs, brown sugar, breadcrumbs, spices, dried fruits and sometimes brandy.

Can toffee pudding be made ahead of time? How should I store it?

Yes, you can make this delectable dessert ahead of time:

1. Pudding (without the sauce) can be baked earlier in the day, covered and stored at room temperature. It can also be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in refrigerator and then bring to room temperature.

2. Toffee Sauce is best when prepared just before serving, but can be prepared earlier in the day, cooled, covered and refrigerated.

Reheating Made Ahead Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

First reheat the sauce: place in a small heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until warm. Then, spoon 2/3 to 1 cup warm sauce over pudding and follow directions in recipe card for Assembly.

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white plate showing a slice of Sticky Toffee Pudding with rum whipped cream on top
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Sticky Toffee Cake (or Pudding)

Sticky Toffee Pudding is a scrumptious cake spiked with dates and served with an amazing toffee-flavored sauce. Easy to prepare, the cake can be prepared up to one month ahead, the sauce earlier the day of serving. Super delicious!!

  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale

Pudding (a.k.a. Cake)

  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup packed pitted dates, preferably Medjool (around 5 to 6 ounces)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Rum Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons rum (I like to use dark but light also works fine)
  • 1 heaping tablespoons confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Toffee Sauce

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

Pudding (a.k.a. Cake)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch square or 7 by 11-inch baking dish. Put water on to boil.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder into a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Chop the dates finely. Place in a small bowl and add the boiling water and baking soda; stir and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar until blended and light in color. Add the egg and vanilla; beat until well blended. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Add the date mixture to the batter and beat on lowest setting just until mixed.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan, spreading batter evenly. Bake until pudding is set and firm on top, about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Rum Whipped Cream

  1. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
  2. Add the rum, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla; beat until firm peaks form. Set aside.

Toffee Sauce

  1. In a medium heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Stir in brown sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar melts.
  2. Stir in cream, bring to a slow boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir until it stops bubbling.

Assembly

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Spoon about 2/3 to 1 cup of the sauce over the pudding; spread evenly. Place pudding under the broiler until the topping is bubbly, only about 1 minute.
  3. Cut into squares and serve immediately, drizzling remaining toffee sauce on top. Place a scoop of Rum Whipped Cream on top or on the side.

Notes

Make ahead: Pudding can be baked earlier in the day, covered and stored at room temperature. Can also be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month. Toffee Sauce is best when prepared just before serving, but can be prepared earlier in the day, cooled, covered and refrigerated. To serve sauce, reheat in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring.

High altitude: reduce baking powder and baking soda by 1/8 teaspoon each, increase boiling water by 2 to 3 tablespoons, and decrease granulated sugar by around 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon. Above 7,000 feet, reduce baking powder and baking soda by 1/4 teaspoon each, increase boiling water by 3 to 4 tablespoons, and decrease granulated sugar by around 3/4 to 1 teaspoon.

  • Author: Lee Clayton Roper
  • Category: dessert, make ahead
  • Cuisine: British

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I haves provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.


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Comments

  1. Oh my, this dessert is fabulous! Made it for Christmas dinner, and the whole family loved it. I’ll definitely be making it again!

  2. I made this recipe for a Test Kitchen Club. I loved it.

    I substituted Baileys for the rum in the whipped cream—Yum!

    1. SO glad you liked our recipe! And I love the idea of adding Baileys to whipped cream. I’ll have to try that –

      Lee