Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sticky Toffee Pudding

I have had two great loves in my short life: cats and pop culture. I do so love a good gossip story about celebrities or even better, truuue stories. And even better, pictures! Realistically, I would be satisfied with a giant magazine of pictures of celebrities which is quite convenient since most magazines consist primarily of pictures. And so, it was the love of pop culture that brought me this recipe.

The Royals are a subset of pop culture since we are Americans and therefore they are not our government but a foreign fascination. Specifically, I follow the Middleton sisters. I had a wonderful moment with my previous manager where we discussed their fashion and how they were good fashion icons for me to have since it would influence my work style in a positive way. This conversation started because I bought a dress based off of a photo of one of them and got many compliments. Alas, that was the moment when I realized we had a good bond as manager and employee--and then I got transferred.

Spoiler alert: it worked!
But I digress. As you may or may not know, Pippa Middleton has written a book on party planning which consists of entertaining ideas, decorations and recipes (ta da!). Since she has canceled her US leg of the book tour (so sad, sooo sad), there have been a couple of magazines publishing excerpts from the fall section of the book. One such magazine was People, which I already subscribe to (it was free, don't judge) and was conveniently provided with a recipe for sticky toffee pudding. It sounds so British and delicious, which is surprising because I feel like most British food consists of things I would not want to eat...

Gloriously torn from a magazine with a note added about self-rising flour. I really want that cow.
Anyways, now that we have established I follow celebrities and know way too much about celebrities (you can stop judging now, you had 3 paragraphs to digest, move on), we get into the recipe. I immediately had several important questions that were only going to be answered by a) a trip to the grocery store and b) my mother.

Question 1: Chopped Dates--are those a thing here? Can I even find them in a normal store? My initial instinct was to ask someone at the grocery store but then I realized walking up to a random grocery store employee and saying "Excuse me, do you know where I can find Dates?" (mind you, capitalization is not represented in speech, only in writing) would result in an extremely awkward situation. Fortunately, chopped dates are a thing and they're right next to the other dried fruits.

Question 2: They have an 8x8 pan but the recipe says 9x9...obviously these are different but will that still work? Mama says, yes but you'll have to adjust the baking time. And since I already do that with my badass oven, 8x8 pan sold for $3.97 (no for real).

Question 3: Is self-rising flower the same as regular flour? It sounds like  fancy way of saying flour, maybe it's already self-rising but British people specify because they have not-rising flour too. Nope, Mama says self-rising has salt and one of the baking things already in it. Easily solved by using regular flour and Google (1 cup self-rising= (1 cup all purpose flour-2 teaspoons)+1/2 teaspoon salt+1.5 teaspoons baking powder).

Question 4: This is more about me being cheap than anything else. The recipe calls for heavy cream but I have a coupon for light cream and it's on sale, can I just use that? Yes, and it's healthier, Mama says. She also added that life is like a box of chocolates (note: I don't call my mother 'mama' but it sounds better when discussing baking, don't ask me why).

The two mixtures pre-mixing. The one on the right is the date mixture which looks gross.
As I was making this, I have no idea how this is meant to look. There aren't pictures of the actual food in the magazine, mostly just pictures of Pippa. So it looked a little soupy and all the dates were on the bottom of the pan. Since I had a pan that was smaller than necessary and it was a new recipe, I made myself a little side dish. Yes, I actually bought baking dishes in the shape of snowflakes. They're so festive!!

I checked on the pans a couple of times in the oven to make sure it was rising (maybe I miscalculated the flour and that's why it looked soupy?) and because the baking times are pretty much guestimation at this point. In the meantime, I made the toffee sauce. There are two items that were recycled during this process: 1) the empty cinnamon spice container because I actually went through an entire container this year and 2) the empty syrup bottle. The recipe calls for pumpkin spice which is really a bunch of other spices together so I made a separate container of it (previously I just did a dash of this and a dash of that but then I found this recipe for pumpkin spice via Joy the Baker!). The syrup bottle will be used for transporting the toffee sauce to Thanksgiving dinner because I don't want it to be a mess and it's syrup going into syrup! This is why it takes me a month to take out the recycling, every once in awhile something comes in handy. This is the path to hoarding, my friends--take out your recycling, it will be okay.

Mmm toffee sauce...and butter.
So I went ahead and tested the pudding and it was quite delicious. I don't normally like raisin things in cakes (love carrot cake, don't like raisins and nuts in it) but I didn't even notice the dates. So next to the traditional pies at Thanksgiving, an American holiday, lay my traditionally British dessert. Ironic? I think yes. It received the family stamp of approval though and my 9 year-old nephew called it his favorite dessert. The recipe stays!

In case there was any confusion, I labeled the bottle as Toffee Sauce. Apparently this was material for making fun of me, you know who you are...

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