Sticky Toffee Pudding

The word toffee comes from taffy, a different sweet, which still survives in the United States. British toffee is made from a syrup of sugar and butter and dates to the early 19th century.

For the pudding:
½ stick butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 ½ cups flour, plus more for pan
1 ½ cups chopped pitted dates (about 6 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

For the sauce:
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
½ stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon brandy
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 10-inch cake pan.

Bring dates and 1 ¼ cups water to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan with tall side. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. The mixture will become foamy. Set aside and let cool.

Whisk 1 ½ cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla to blend. Add 1 egg; beat to blend. Add half of flour mixture and half of date mixture; beat to blend. Repeat with remaining 1 egg, flour mixture, and date mixture. Pour batter into mold.

Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan before inverting.

While the cake is baking make the sauce. Bring sugar, cream, and butter to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in brandy and vanilla. Let stand at room temperature.

When the cake has cooled, unmold, cut into wedges and serve with the warmed sauce and vanilla ice cream

Serves 8

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