Tag Archives: toffee. caramel.

C-c-c-cold weather Comfort Food

29 Jan

Ooooo, it’s cold out there. Winter has finally arrived in this part of the world. The relatively mild weather of the past month has suddenly disappeared and tonight there is a real chill in the air. Cold weather means just one thing in my kitchen – comfort food. Well it means other things too, like thick socks, woolly jumpers and my hot  water bottle, because I am a terrible wuss where the cold is concerned. But mainly, it means heart-and-soul-warming food.

Today I decided a pudding was required after lunch and I tried a little experiment which worked beautifully – individual sticky toffee puddings. I used my usual recipe but rather than bake a large square pud I divided the mixture among six silicone muffin molds. It worked brilliantly and the family devoured them with extra toffee sauce and lots of vanilla ice cream.

Sticky  Toffee Pudding
Makes six puddings using a Muffin tin or silicone mold
100 g dried, stoned dates, chopped 
125 ml strong black tea – I use Earl Grey
1/4 teaspoon bicarb
45 g softened butter
90 g self raising flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice OR ground ginger
90 g light muscovado sugar
1 egg
100 g light muscovado sugar
100 g butter 
142 ml double cream
(These quantities can be doubled if you’re greedy and like loads of sauce. It will keep in the fridge for a few days and is a yummy sauce to pour over ice cream)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180.
  2. Place the dates and the tea in a saucepan and simmer over a low heat for about 4 or 5 minutes. Stir in the bicarb and keep stirring gently until the dates are soft and mushy. Set aside to cool for a while.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy, add the egg, keep beating while you add in the flour and spice. Fold in the date and tea mixture, then pour into the muffin tins.
  4. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the tops are lightly browned and springy when you touch them gently.
  5. While the pudding-muffins are in the oven prepare the sauce. Just put all the ingredients into a saucepan and heat gently, stirring all the time, until combined and a beautiful caramelly colour.
  6. As soon as the puddings are removed from the oven, place on a wire rack, and use a fork to prick a few holes in the top of each little pud. Now spoon over a little of the sauce and let it soak in. Mmmmm.
  7. Serve the remaining sauce in a jug and see how swiftly it disappears.
  8. Gorgeous as is and divine with vanilla ice cream too.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
As pudding doesn’t really count as baking I have also had to make something specifically cakealogueish, and my inspiration came from the fruit bowl once again, where a couple of bananas were past their best. They were sliced up and added to a new recipe which we have decided to call Caramel Banana Fairies. Fairies? Well yes…not quite brownies (made with dark chocolate), not quite blondies (made with white chocolate), something in between, as they were made with milk chocolate. Kind of fair in colour, so er, fairies. Ok, I know, it’s a daft name but I think it will stick. Haha, stick. Yes, they are pretty sticky…
Caramel Banana Fairies
2 ripe bananas, sliced
200 g golden caster sugar
100 g butter
100 g caramel (such as Dulce de Leche)
100 g milk chocolate
2 eggs
200 g self raising flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C
  2. Place the sugar, butter, caramel and chocolate in a heavy-bottomed, medium-to-large saucepan, and heat over a low heat until everything has melted. Stir gently all the time.
  3. Leave to cool for a little while, then add the eggs and tip in the flour. Beat everything together in the saucepan – saves on washing up.
  4. Finally add in the sliced bananas and fold together gently. You don’t want to break up the banana too much.
  5. Pour into a greased and lined square tin or smallish brownie tin.
  6. Now go completely over the top and blob on a few teaspoons of caramel. Don’t stir it in, just leave it to sit blobbily on top.
  7. Bake for 35 – 40  minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and dry.
  8. Allow to cool on a wire rack then cut up into squares to enjoy either warm as a pudding or cold as a cake, feeling smug because it contains bananas – one of your five a day 🙂
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