While living in Connecticut, Jay and I would frequent this great little restaurant called River Tavern, which was located in the quaint town center of Chester. While dining there, we were introduced to a variety of several new and exciting dishes that we enjoyed with much enthusiasm. One of these culinary delights that struck our fancy was their date pudding with caramel rum sauce. This dessert is freshly baked, so the menu states that you need to order it while you’re ordering your meal. This way it is served warm and ready to enjoy right after your main entree. I have to admit that because this date pudding was so delicious, I had to see if I could replicate it at home. I did in fact find a recipe that came fairly close to the restaurant’s version and I have been making it ever since.
Prior to our first time at the River Tavern, I had never heard of date pudding and there doesn’t seem to be much agreement on who invented this sweet treat. Here is a little bit of a description and history of this dessert. Actually, sticky toffee pudding isn’t a pudding at all, it is a classic British/English dessert consisting of a dark, dense sponge cake made with chopped dates that is topped with a sweet toffee sauce; it can also be served with vanilla ice cream or custard. Although the origins of this classic British dessert seem to be unclear, it is said that it was likely invented during the 20th century in the Lake District of North West England, from here it is where its popularity spread across the country.
Since I am gluten-free these days, I decided to try this wonderful gluten-free version by Meaningful Eats. I used Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour by Bob’s Red Mill and honestly, I can’t taste the difference between this and regular flour. The pudding baked perfectly and I couldn’t be more pleased.
Also, instead of using the recipe for the caramel sauce from Meaningful Eats, I instead used the recipe from Jun Tan. I have used this salted rum caramel recipe for years and I have never been disappointed. I do have to warn you if you make this tasty dessert you will become addicted. It is just that good!
For the Pudding:
10-12 Pitted Dates, Chopped
3/4 Cup of Boiling Water
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Gluten-Free-All-Purpose-Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Nutmeg
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs at Room Temperature
For the Salted Rum Caramel:
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Water
3/4 Cup Cream, Room Temperature
4 Tablespoons Rum or Whiskey, Optional
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Soak the Dates
In a medium bowl, combine the chopped dates, boiling water, baking soda, and vanilla extract. Let the dates soak for fifteen minutes.
Preheat the Oven
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease eight ramekins with cooking spray. Place on a baking sheet. When making date pudding, I always use a Nordic Ware bundtlette pan. I received this wonderful pan as a birthday gift many years ago from a very special person in my life. I love the different shapes and with the use of cooking spray, I have never had a problem using this pan for my baking needs. If you have ramekins, I’m confident these will work just as well.
Mix the Dry Ingredients
In a medium bowl, combine the gluten-free flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Whisk to combine.
Combine the Wet Ingredients
In a large mixing bowl, add the butter and brown sugar. Using a hand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy and combined, about one to two minutes. While mixing, add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
Combine the Wet & Dry Ingredients
With the mixer on low, add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add one-half of the date mixture and then mix. Add another one-third of the dry ingredients followed by the other one-half of the date mixture, and mix. Add the final one-third of the dry ingredients and mix until totally combined.
Baking the Date Pudding
Next, divide the batter evenly among the ramekins. Bake for twenty-two to twenty-six minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Let cool for at least fifteen minutes or more if needed before plating.
For the Salted Rum Caramel
Place the sugar and water in a deep small pot. Stir to combine, making sure not to get sugar on the sides of the pot. Cook sugar until it turns dark amber in color, for about ten to fifteen minutes at a boil. Be very careful, caramel gets very hot and you can be burned.
Next, stir in cream slowly with a whisk, it will bubble, so add in very slowly.
Remove from heat and then stir in rum, vanilla, and salt. After so many years of making this sauce, I have found that using about half of the salt called for in this recipe works best for me. If you are someone who enjoys a lot of salt, then using the full amount will work for you.
Once the date pudding is cool, it’s time for plating. Instead of ice cream, I whipped up the rest of the whipping cream and topped each cake with whipped cream and the salted rum caramel sauce.
I must say, we enjoyed this recipe very much and it sure came close to the date pudding we enjoyed from our days living in Connecticut.