My Favorite Dessert of 2012: Sinless Vegan Sticky Toffee Pudding
This past December I took The Mr. to a fancy shmancy restaurant for his birthday dinner. We had four courses, plus amuse bouches, plus dessert - it was an epic meal. And every course was incredible - it was like each plate was even better than the next. When it was time to choose dessert, I was faced with an impossible decision between all of the unbelivebly delicious-sounding desserts, so I asked our server for a recommendation. "Sticky toffee pudding. Definitely. That's my favorite." I'd never had sticky toffee pudding before, so I trusted his opinion - kind of took a shot in the dark. I love toffee, I like dates, and it came with brown sugar ice cream - what could be bad? And then the dessert arrived. HOLY $%#*. It was by far my favorite dish of the night. It was so amazing, so delicious, so sticky and sweet and gooey - I was actually ANGRY with myself for having missed out on this for the first 30-some years of my life. It was all I could think about for days afterward - that ridiculous dessert. I wanted to try to recreate it at home, but in a healthier way - I'm fully aware that anything with the word "toffee" in it isn't considered a health food. And most recipes I saw called for lots of butter and sugar. And then I came across this sinless sticky toffee pecan pudding from Oh She Glows. Sinless? Toffee? Really? But will it be good? Sinless? I figured it was worth a shot - I had all the ingredients in my house, so I gave it a go. OMG. I had to sit down - I actually took a bite of this and had to sit on the kitchen floor before I just straight-out collapsed in happiness. I'm giving this dessert the official title of My Favorite Dessert of 2012. And I've had some stellar desserts this year - but this one takes the cake, literally. Is it exactly the same as the one I had in the restaurant? Nope. But is it just as good? Yep. It's hard to believe that something with the word "sinless" in the title can be this good, because it really does feel sinful. And no, it's not "healthy", but it's certainly healthier than a conventional dessert loaded with tons of sugar and butter. And while yes, it does serve 8, I ate the majority of this cake within 3 days. By myself. I'm not proud, but I do feel it's worth disclosing since it's another testament to HOW FREAKING GOOD THIS IS.
Sinless Vegan Sticky Toffee Pudding
barely adapted from Oh She Glows
for the cake:
- 200 grams medjool dates, pits removed and roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, slightly softened (I just left it at room temperature for a while)
- 75 grams brown sugar
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans, divided
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
for the toffee sauce:
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp light corn syrup (or agave syrup, or brown rice syrup)
- 35 grams brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp unsweetened plain almond milk
- pinch of kosher salt
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and spread the chopped pecans out on a baking sheet. Toast for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven, and turn oven temperature up to 375 degrees. Grease a 9" pie plate with Earth Balance.
- In a medium-sized pot, bring 1 1/2 cups almond milk to a low boil. Add the chopped dates to the milk and reduce the heat to low - cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Stir in the baking soda. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the Earth Balance and brown sugar until fluffy and no lumps of sugar remain. Add the date/almond mixture and stir to combine.
- Add the cinnamon, salt, 1/2 cup toasted pecans, and whole wheat pastry flour to the bowl, mixing until just combined. Pour mixture into the greased pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees for 28-30 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
- To make the toffee sauce, start about 10 minutes before your cake is due to come out of the oven. In the same pot you used for your date/almond milk mixture (just wipe it out), whisk together the corn syrup, brown sugar, Earth Balance, vanilla extract, almond milk, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, whisking frequently (almost constantly), until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Using a toothpick, prick a zillion little holes all over the top of the cake. Pour about 2/3 of the toffee sauce over the cake and smooth it around with a spoon.
- To serve, cut or scoop out portions onto a plate and drizzle with remaining toffee sauce. Sprinkle with remaining toasted chopped pecans.
The naked cake drizzled with toffee - awaiting its next toffee drizzle and toasted pecans. Mmmm.
Try eating just one plate of this. I dare you.