the appetizer:

Chanterelle's pastry chef, Kate Zuckerman, has created many exquisite treats in her dessert cookbook, The Sweet Life, including this Date Cake with Toffee Sauce.

I Love Desserts
Date Cake with Toffee Sauce  

Date Cake
with Toffee Sauce

One 9-inch square cake, serves 10 to 12

This is my version of the ever-popular sticky toffee pudding, sometimes called sticky date pudding. The sweetness of the dates and toffee is offset by the spices and the coffee, producing a balanced date flavor, especially delicious in the winter months when warm, rich cakes are most comforting.

Special Tools and Pots

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and adjust the rack to the center of the oven. Butter or spray a baking pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, aluminum foil, or wax paper, then butter or spray it again.

Prepare the date mixture.

With a paring knife or your hands, remove the pits from the dates. In a small mixing bowl, combine the pitted dates, brandy, and espresso powder. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and pour it over the dates and allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes to cool. Transfer the date mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth (a few small lumps are okay). Alternatively, puree in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes.

Cream the butter and incorporate the eggs.

Follow the TECHNIQUE TIP: Creaming butter, page 67 of the book. See BEYOND THE BASICS: Room-temperature eggs, page 53.

Place the butter in the bowl of the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes fluffy and almost beige in color, 6 to 8 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing the batter slowly for 20 seconds after each addition. This recipe has a high proportion of eggs and not all the eggs will emulsify into the butter. After you add the third egg, the mixture might begin to look curdled. After adding the last egg, mix just enough to distribute the egg in the batter.

Finish the batter.

In a dry bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients except the baking soda. With the mixer on slow speed, add half of the dry mixture to the butter, scraping down the sides of the bowl. The batter should look less curdled after half the flour is incorporated.

Add the baking soda to the date mixture and stir it with a wooden spoon for 10 seconds. With the mixer on slow speed, add the date mixture to the batter and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until the batter comes together. Stop the machine and, using a spatula, scrape the bottom of the bowl to bring the batter to the top. Turn the machine back on and mix on slow speed for another 30 seconds.

Bake the cake.

See BEYOND THE BASICS: SteaM&Mdash;the leavening power of batters with a high percentage of liquids, page 46.

Scrape the batter into your prepared pan, evening it out with a spatula. Bake until the center of the cake is set or a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the center of the cake is still jiggling, continue to bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 40 minutes before inverting it and removing it from the baking pan.

Serving Suggestions

Slice this cake into 2- to 3-inch squares while it is slightly warm and serve it with warm Toffee Sauce poured over the top. This cake can be reheated for 10 minutes in a 325 degrees F oven before serving. Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream also provides a nice contrast, both in flavor and temperature, to the dark sweet flavor of this cake. The Coconut Cream Cheese Ice Cream (page 135) is also a wonderful accompaniment.


This cake will keep, wrapped and at room temperature, for 4 days.

Buy the Book  

The Sweet Life
Desserts from Chanterelle

by Kate Zuckerman
Bulfinch Press
Hardcover; 224 pages; $35.00
ISBN: 0821257447
Recipe reprinted by permission.


The Sweet Life



This page created February 2007