By James Distefano – Chef Instructor, School of Baking & Pastry Arts
When I was the executive pastry chef at the original Rouge Tomate, my job was to incorporate more fruits and alternative grains into my baking while cutting back on the refined sugar and flours. I saw this directive as a positive challenge — one in which I could expand both my knowledge of ingredients and also my palette.
My medjool date sticky toffee pudding is a great example of this. It combines sweet medjool dates with whole wheat and buckwheat flours. Using the dates allowed me to cut back on the sugar and still retain the cake’s sweet decadence. I added a touch of cocoa powder to play into that richness while counterbalancing with the cocoa powder’s bitter qualities. Finally, I topped it off with a little banana caramel sauce. You might think that’s bananas, but who doesn’t love a date on Valentine’s Day?
Medjool Date Sticky Toffee Pudding
Servings: Makes about 8-10 servings.
170 grams medjool dates, pitted
6 grams vanilla extract
10 grams baking soda
392 grams water
85 grams butter
227 grams dark brown sugar
75 grams eggs
122 grams all-purpose flour
85 grams whole-wheat flour
14 grams buckwheat flour
56 grams cocoa powder
6.3 grams baking powder
1.5 grams salt
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Place the dates, vanilla extract and baking soda in a medium-size bowl and set aside.
- Bring the water to a boil, then pour over the dates and cover with plastic wrap to soften them. This should take about five minutes.
- Once the dates have softened, puree them into a smooth paste utilizing a blender. Set this loose date paste aside.
- In a bowl fitted for an electric mixer, cream the butter and dark brown sugar on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.
- Turn machine down to low speed and gradually add the eggs.
- Alternately add your dry ingredients and the loose date paste, beginning and ending with your dry ingredients until all of the dry ingredients and the date paste have been incorporated.
- Portion batter into individual molds and bake at 350° F until set. They will feel lightly firm with a soft spring to them.
- Allow them to cool to room temperature before unmolding.
- Serve with Banana Caramel (recipe below) or store until ready to serve. These cakes will last up to one day stored in an airtight container.
Banana Caramel Sauce
75 grams granulated sugar
375 grams banana (about 3), very ripe, chopped into small pieces
125 grams whole milk
125 grams heavy cream
3 grams vanilla extract
1.5 grams salt
- In a small pot heat the whole milk and heavy cream. Set aside.
- In a second small pot, begin caramelizing the granulated sugar utilizing the dry sugar method.
- Once all of the sugar has been added to the pot, allow it to turn a deep amber color, right before it begins to smoke.
- Add the chopped banana to the caramelized sugar and gently stir, allowing the bananas to cook in the hot caramel for one minute.
- Deglaze the pot with the warm milk/heavy cream and simmer the caramel sauce for five minutes.
- Place the banana caramel into a blender and begin to process, making sure the blender is on its lowest setting first.
- Gradually increase the speed until the blender is on its highest setting. Blend for 30 seconds more.
- Strain the banana caramel through a chinois and immediately chill over an ice bath until it is cold.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
This is a great sauce for the Date Sticky Toffee Pudding and for just about anything else you’d serve with a traditional caramel sauce.
Sweet tooth piqued? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.