Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sticky Toffee Pudding Ice Cream

Häagen-Dazs had a contest years ago for fans to create a new flavor, and the winner was sticky toffee pudding.  I was ecstatic because I absolutely loved sticky toffee pudding!  I first had the dessert when I was in London.  I don't even remember the name of the restaurant, but I remember totally falling in love with the warm, moist cake topped with a toffee caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Alas, the ice cream flavor was a limited edition, and even though I stocked up on it every chance I had, there came a long, dry spell during which I had no sticky toffee pudding ice cream.  =(  I sometimes thought about making it myself but never went through with it until recently when The Kitchn posted a recipe for making sticky toffee pudding sundaes.  I just made a half recipe of the cake and sauce and combined it with a simple base ice cream from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams enriched with a little vanilla extract.  There was no point in making a gourmet vanilla ice cream with vanilla beans since all the nuances would have been lost under the stronger flavors from the sticky toffee pudding.

Warning:  this is not a quick and easy recipe.  It involves reconstituting dried dates, baking a steamed cake, making a caramel sauce, and churning your own ice cream.  Read through all the steps and make sure you have the time and equipment.  I will say, however, that the results are oh so worth it!  This tastes pretty much exactly like what I remember the Häagen-Dazs version tasted like!


Sticky Toffee Pudding Ice Cream
makes about 1 quart

For the toffee cake:
4 ounces pitted dates, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
5 ounces all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combing the chopped dates and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the baking soda and let stand for 20 minutes to 2 hours.  Transfer to a food processor or blender and process until mostly pureed.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Generously grease the bottom and sides of a loaf pan with butter or baking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with an electric mixer), cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate mixing bowl.  On low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients with the date mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Place the pan inside a larger casserole dish or roasting pan and transfer to the oven.  Pour enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the loaf pan.  Bake until a toothpick pricked into the middle comes out slightly moist, 30-35 minutes.

For the caramel sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon rum (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

When the cake has about 10 minutes left of cooking time, make the caramel sauce.  Combine butter, sugar, and cream in a heavy saucepan.  Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in rum (if using) and vanilla extract.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Prick the cake all over with a skewer or toothpick.  Pour half the sauce over the warm cake and let sit until it reaches room temperature.  Cover and transfer to the refrigerator so that it can chill while you make the ice cream.

For the vanilla ice cream:
2 cups whole milk
4 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.  Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.  Stir in the vanilla extract and chill the mixture in the refrigerator.

Pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and spin until thick and creamy.


Pack the ice cream into a storage container, alternating it with layers of the cake and caramel sauce; do not mix.  Seal with an airtight lid and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Next:  Salade Indochinoise
Previously:  Miso Pumpkin Soup
Last Year:  Thomas Keller's Lemon Tart
Four Years Ago:  Homemade Waffle Face Off
Five Years Ago:  Curry Turnovers(?)


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  2. YOU have made my day, I'm not an ice cream girl, in fact about the only time I buy ice cream is during baseball season when I can get Baseball nut. That said when the contest was on I bought on and I was hooked with the first bite. Thank you for posting this cuz I'm actually going to make some ice cream. Better place down mats etc to protect my family when then faint from shock.

    1. You're welcome! I hope the ice cream turned out okay!

  3. I've heard amazing things about that book. Dates in ice cream are fab, and this looks great!

    1. If you're referring to Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, yes, it's amazing! Not only does it have so many great recipes in there, you can create so many other ones from the base recipes!