This is the kind of warm sponge pudding that gets served in British country pubs after Sunday lunch, and it’s dark, sweet, rich, naughty, and satisfying. Don’t be put off by the dates. This doesn’t taste “healthy” in the slightest. They dissolve almost completely into the sponge and give the pudding its moist, rich, sticky sweetness. Then once it’s baked, you rather satisfyingly poke holes all over the pudding and douse it in toffee sauce, so it seeps right into the sponge, making it even more ridiculously sticky and indulgent. Stretchy pants are optional but recommended. Reprinted with permission from Vegan Comfort Cooking by Melanie McDonald, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Melanie McDonald
Sticky Toffee Pudding [Vegan]
- 1/3 cup melted vegan butter or coconut oil, plus more for the pan
- 12 Medjool dates (about 6 oz), pitted and chopped very small
- 1 cup freshly made, hot, strong black coffee
- 1 slightly heaping tsp baking soda
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/3 cups spelt flour, 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, or 3 cups oat flour (spelt gives the best result)
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup applesauce or mashed banana (if you don’t mind a little banana flavor coming through)
- Prepare the pudding. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease 8 small individual pudding molds, 8 wells of a muffin pan, or an 8-inch square cake pan with a little vegan butter or coconut oil. Then line the bottoms with a little circle or square of parchment paper. The butter or oil helps keep it in place.
- Place the dates in a medium bowl and pour the brewed coffee over them. Add the baking soda and vanilla; stir and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- Add the melted vegan butter or oil and the applesauce to the date mixture and stir to combine. Then pour it into the flour mixture and fold together until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Divide the batter equally between the 8 prepared pudding molds or wells, or spoon all of the batter into the prepared pan. If you used individual pudding molds, set them on a baking sheet so they will stay level in the oven.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a pudding comes out clean.
- While the puddings are baking, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, coconut milk, vegan butter, if using, and the salt. The butter helps make it richer, so it is recommended. Allow to come to a gentle boil over medium heat. Keep it bubbling away, stirring frequently right into the bottom to make sure it doesn’t burn, until it can coat the back of a metal spoon. It will still appear thin but will thicken as it cools. Remove from the heat.
- Remove the puddings from the oven and immediately poke them all over with a sharp, thin knife. With care, as the sauce will be very hot, pour 1 tablespoon of the toffee sauce over the top of each pudding, or 1⁄2 cup if a single pan was used. At first, it will pool on the top but will slowly sink in. At this point, you can serve them or allow them to cool, wrap in plastic wrap and either refrigerate or freeze.
- To serve, run a knife around the edges of each pudding and turn them out onto individual plates or bowls, or divide them into 8 portions. Add the chopped pecans to the sauce and spoon a generous amount over each pudding.
- To make the puddings extra-sticky and chewy, turn them out, pour some sauce over them and broil the tops for a couple of minutes until they are bubbling and crusty.
Leftover sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. It also freezes well.