Thursday, 28 August 2014

Guinness Sticky Toffee Puddings

What is there not to love about sticky toffee pudding? It is warm, sweet, sticky and the ultimate in comfort food. The soft but rich sponge drenched in a toffee-like caramel sauce is just addictive despite the fact that they are sinfully sweet. I honestly believe that if a hundred people were surveyed and asked what their favourite dessert was, sticky toffee pudding would be right up there near the top of the list. Interestingly, I have found that men in particular seem to love it and often choose it on dessert menus.

The great thing about this pudding is that it is relatively easy to make at home and there are no complex processes involved. You can make it in one large dish and then portion it out when serving or you can do as I have, and make individual puddings. I love food that is prepared and served in individual sized portions… it just feels more special somehow; as if a lot of care and thought has gone into its making.

I have made many sticky toffee puddings over the years and they have always been extraordinarily popular, but rather than make my usual ‘standard’ version, I decided this time that I wanted to do something a little different. I often use stout in my cooking as I think that it adds a depth and richness to those dishes in which it is used. One of my favourite meals is Beef in Guinness Stew …which is so tasty and another great comfort food dish. I am also a great lover of traditional Christmas Pudding and my fail-safe recipe, the one that I have been using for years, is one that uses Guinness. Inspired by these recipes and others that I regularly cook and bake which also include Guinness, I decided that I would use it as the liquid in which to soak my dates for these sticky toffee puddings.

The Guinness really worked a treat lending a subtle richness but slight tang that actually cut through some of the overall sweetness of the puddings. I thought it added something extra but without taking away from the essential character of the puddings. It may be blowing my own trumpet but I think that the addition of Guinness actually improves what is a classic pudding and I shall definitely be including it when making it again.


Ingredients:

300ml Guinness
175g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
215g self-raising flour, sifted
Sauce:
150g butter
180g soft brown sugar
225ml double cream
To serve:
50g walnuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
 

Method:

1. Place the Guinness in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling and then remove from the heat. Add the dates and bicarbonate of soda and set aside. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
2. Grease 8 small pudding basins (about 200ml capacity) with butter and line the base with a small circle of non-stick baking parchment. Place on a baking tray and set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4.
4. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition so that they are fully incorporated.
5. Fold in the flour and then add the dates and Guinness mixture, mixing everything together thoroughly. The mixture will be quite sloppy, but this is exactly how it should be.
6. Divide the batter between the prepared pudding bowls, filling each no more than 2/3 full as the mixture rises quite significantly as it bakes. Bake the puddings in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until they are well risen and a thin skewer inserted in to the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes while you make the sauce.
Sauce:
7. Place the butter and sugar into a medium sized saucepan and bring to the boil over a moderate heat. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Carefully add the cream, continuously stirring. Allow to bubble for a further minute and then remove from heat.
To serve:
8. Turn out the puddings onto individual plates and pour over some of the unctuous sauce. These puddings are fabulous served with vanilla ice-cream where the cold creaminess contrasts so well with the hot, rich pudding! Scatter around a few lightly toasted walnuts to add a little nutty crunch.
 
Serves 8.