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Sticky date pudding is a beloved winter dessert in Australia and New Zealand. This irresistible treat features small, moist sponge cakes infused with deliciously soaked, sugary dates and generously drenched in warm caramel sauce.
Enjoy it on its own or elevate the experience with a dollop of fresh cream, smooth vanilla custard or creamy ice cream.
Delightful twists to the traditional recipe
In my rendition, I’ve introduced the crunch of toasted macadamia nuts, delicately placed atop each pudding with a syrupy glaze. This Australian-inspired addition infuses a unique and attractive touch. However, feel free to experiment with Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, or pecan nuts.
To maintain a perfect balance, I’ve carefully reduced the amount of cream traditionally used in the caramel sauce by more than half. With the pudding already boasting richness from the combination of butter and sugar, this adjustment ensures an indulgence without overwhelming heaviness.
The Origins of this Pudding
Sticky date puddings, commonly referred to as sticky toffee puddings in the UK and Canada, were introduced in England during the 1960s. They quickly gained popularity, eventually making their way to Australia in the 1980s. Today, this well-loved dessert is a family-favourite in and outside the home.
Dinner Party Delight
This is a fantastic dessert to have made ahead of time for a warm & cosy dinner party.
Prepare it in advance and simply heat up each serving in the microwave or oven. The final touch? Drizzle more caramel sauce over the warm dessert once it’s plated. No need for fussy decorations, just serve it with a dollop of cream, custard, or ice cream. But be warned, your guests will be craving seconds of this addictive treat!
As soon as the puddings come out of the oven and have been tipped onto a plate, this is the crucial moment to drizzle the caramel sauce all over the warm pudding.
This makes the pudding delicately moist as well as giving the sponge that signature dark brown colour.
Gluten-Free Sticky Date Pudding
Sticky Date Pudding
- 250 g pitted dates, chopped in half
- 1 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
- 350 ml boiling water
- 125 g butter, softened at room temperature
- 140 g brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 medium eggs
- 220 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free self-raising flour
- 60 g macadamia nuts, chopped coarsely
- 1½ tbsp brown sugar
- 30 g butter, melted
- 3 tbsp golden syrup or maple syrup
- 100 g light or dark brown sugar
- 4 tbsp full-fat, single or plant-based cream
- 50 g butter
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch of salt
- Thick cream, vanilla custard or ice cream, to serve (optional)
Sticky Date Pudding
- In a medium bowl, add the halved dates and baking soda. Pour the boiling water over them and allow to stand for 20 mins.
- Transfer the bowl contents to a food processor or use a handheld stick blender to blend until smooth.
- In a stand mixer bowl or medium bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla essence until pale and fluffy.
- Add one egg at a time, beating well for 5 mins.
- Using a large spatula, fold the date mixture and self-raising flour gently into the butter mixture until no visible flour streaks are visible. Set aside to prepare the macadamia base.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Toast the chopped macadamia nuts on a baking tray for 5 mins, stirring them halfway through. Keep the oven on for the puddings to bake next.
- In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, melted butter and golden/maple syrup together.
Assembling before baking
- Lightly grease each ramekin with some butter and place them on a large baking tray.
- Add a spoonful of the mixed butter, sugar & golden syrup mixture to each ramekin.
- Next, sprinkle the toasted macadamia nuts on top of the syrup layer.
- Evenly add the pudding mixture on top of the syrup macadamia layer in each prepared ramekin dish.
- Bake the puddings on the middle shelf for 30 mins at 180°C/350°F. Test with a toothpick by inserting it into the centre of a pudding to see if it comes out clean before removing them from the oven.
Caramel sauce (A good time to make the sauce is while the puddings are baking)
- Combine all the caramel sauce ingredients in a small pan and stir over medium-low heat, until the sugar has dissolved, without bringing it to a boil.
- Once dissolved, bring the caramel sauce to a boil for a few minutes, then reduce the heat to a simmer and stir constantly for around 3 mins or until the sauce thickens very slightly. It should look glossy and smooth.
- If making the sauce ahead of time, cover the pan with the lid and set it aside to reheat again. If preparing a day ahead, chill the cooled-down caramel sauce in the pan to then reheat directly on the stove the next day.
Assembling after baking
- Allow the puddings to cool down for 5 mins before tipping them out onto a small dessert plate. Trim the bottoms slightly if you like the pudding to have straight sides.
- Poke each pudding several times with a skewer or toothpick.
- Rearrange some of the macadamia nuts back on top of the pudding if any fell off during tipping.
- Pour the warm caramel sauce over the warm date puddings, letting them drip down the sides to form some pools of sauce on the plate.
- Serve immediately with an optional serving of cream, custard or ice cream and extra caramel sauce on the side.
- Keeps for 5 days chilled
- Puddings are freezer-friendly
- Caramel sauce can be frozen in ice cube trays and then transferred to a zip lock bag. This makes it easy to defrost faster.
- Puddings can be reheated directly from the fridge or freezer in the microwave together with the caramel sauce.