This British classic features a delightfully dense sponge cake made with dates that’s topped with a rich toffee sauce. Serve your sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream or enjoy as is! 

A sticky toffee pudding on a speckled plate. More rest in the background.

What Is Sticky Toffee Pudding? 

Sticky toffee pudding is a popular British dessert that’s made with a rich, dense sponge cake covered in toffee sauce.

The sponge cake is unlike anything we have in the US. It’s sweetened with both dates and brown sugar, and molasses adds even more depth and density to the batter. 

The toffee sauce is reminiscent of caramel sauce in that it’s made with butter, sugar, and cream. However, this toffee sauce requires much more butter than regular caramel sauce, and dark brown sugar is substituted for granulated sugar to impart the classic toffee flavor. 

When combined, the sauce and fragrant sponge cake result in a dessert so rich and decadent that one small serving is really all you need. You’re welcome to serve your portion with vanilla ice cream, but I doubt you’ll need it!

Overhead view of the ingredients needed for this sticky toffee pudding recipe.

Recipe Ingredients 

This may be a foreign treat for some, but rest assured that homemade sticky toffee pudding is easy to prepare. Let’s review the main ingredients you’ll need to make the recipe: 

  • Dates: These add sweetness and flavor to the cakes. Medjool dates are best, but I’ve also used Deglet Noor Dates and they worked great too! Be sure to remove the pits from your dates if they haven’t been pitted already. 
  • Molasses: Make sure to use unsulphured molasses, like Grandma’s. I don’t recommend using blackstrap molasses for this recipe, it’s much more bitter and won’t work as well.
  • Brown sugar: Dark brown sugar is best for this recipe. It adds a rich caramel flavor to the batter and toffee sauce that regular sugar just can’t replicate. If you don’t have any dark brown sugar, you can make your own with just two ingredients. 
  • Butter: You’ll need a full stick of unsalted butter for the cake batter, plus another stick for the toffee sauce. 
  • Heavy whipping cream: Check to make sure yours contains at least 36% fat. 

Smooth date mixture in a food processor.

How to Make Sticky Toffee Pudding 

Creating the best sticky toffee pudding requires a few extra steps than your average cake recipe, but it’s easy to follow. Full instructions are provided in the recipe card below, but here’s an overview:

First, you’ll need to make the sponge cake base: 

  • Prep the ramekins: You’ll need ten 6-ounce ramekins for this recipe. Grease them thoroughly with non-stick spray, then set them aside.
  • Soften the dates: Combine the chopped pitted dates and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then pop the lid on and remove the saucepan from the heat. Let the dates sit in the hot water for about 10 minutes to soften. 
  • Blend the dates: Transfer the date mixture to a food processor (or a blender that’s vented). Add the baking soda and blend until a smooth paste forms. 
  • Combine the dry ingredients: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 
  • Cream together the butter and sugar: Do this in a separate bowl. I like to use a stand mixer for this step, but a handheld mixer works just as well.
  • Add the wet ingredients: To the butter mixture, add the molasses. Then, add the eggs (one at a time!) before mixing in the vanilla. 
  • Finish the batter: At this point, you’re ready to combine all three elements of the batter. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two additions, alternating with the date mixture. 
  • Bake: Divide the batter evenly between the 10 prepared ramekins. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I prefer baking the ramekins on a baking sheet to make them easier to remove from the oven. 

Toffee sauce being spooned over a sticky toffee pudding.

Once the puddings come out of the oven, it’s time to move onto the toffee sauce: 

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the heavy cream and brown sugar. 
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  • Take the pan off the heat before stirring in the salt and vanilla. 

Once the toffee sauce has been prepared, you can assemble them: 

  • When the ramekins are cool enough to handle, level the tops of each cake. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the sides of the cakes. 
  • Flip the cakes onto plates before brushing with the toffee sauce. 

A forkful of sticky toffee pudding on a plate.

Can the Recipe Be Prepared in Advance? 

Sticky toffee pudding is best fresh, but leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days and reheated gently in the microwave.

Can the Recipe Be Made Without Individual Ramekins? 

Yes! You can bake the batter in a 9×13 baking pan for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Once cooled, slice into pieces and serve with the toffee sauce. 

A piece of sticky toffee pudding on a white speckled plate. A bite has been taken out and a fork rests on the plate.

Baking Tips 

  • Make sure to beat the butter and sugar together for 3 to 4 minutes. It may seem like a while, but this incorporates more air into your cake batter and creates a softer cake!
  • Only fill the ramekins 2/3 of the way full, otherwise the batter may overflow in the oven. 
  • To make removing the ramekins from the oven easier, place them on a baking sheet prior to baking. 
  • Make the toffee sauce while the cakes are cooling. Once the sauce is done, the cakes should be ready to remove from the ramekins and serve.
  • I prefer to level the tops of each cake so they’re nice and perfectly flat, but feel free to skip this step if you prefer!

More Desserts That Use Ramekins! 

Recipe Video

A small round date cake covered in toffee sauce on a white speckled plate.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Prep Time: 40 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins
This British classic features a delightfully dense sponge cake made with dates that's topped with a rich toffee sauce. Serve your sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream or enjoy as is! 

Ingredients

Servings: 10 puddings

For the Cake

  • 8 ounces pitted and chopped dates preferably medjool (226 grams)
  • 1 cup water (240 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour spooned & leveled (220 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened (115 grams; 1 stick)
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar (100 grams)
  • ¼ cup unsulphured molasses (80 grams)
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Toffee Sauce

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (115 grams; 1 stick)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream (360 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

  • To make the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and grease ten 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Add the chopped dates and water to a medium saucepan and place over medium-high heat until the water begins to boil. Place a cover on top of the pot and remove from the heat. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the water-date mixture to a food processor or blender that's vented. Add the baking soda and blend until a smooth paste is formed. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together for 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Then, mix in the molasses.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to mix each one in until fully combined. Then, mix in the vanilla extract.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients in two additions, alternating with the date mixture. Make sure to start and end with the dry ingredients and only mix in each addition until just combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the ramekins, filling each ramekin about ⅔ of the way full. If you’re weighing the batter, it should be about 105 grams of batter per ramekin.
  • Place all the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 23 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and cool slightly on a wire rack while you prepare the toffee sauce.
  • To make the toffee sauce: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then mix in the brown sugar and heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and salt.
  • To prepare them: Once the ramekins have cooled enough to handle, level the tops of each cake. Carefully run a butter knife around the edges to loosen the cakes from the ramekins and flip the cakes out of the ramekins.
  • While the cakes are still a little warm, use a pastry brush or spoon to brush the top and sides of each cake with the toffee sauce.
  • Before serving, top with the remaining toffee sauce.

Notes

Storage Instructions: Cakes may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave and top with additional toffee sauce before serving.
Toffee sauce may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge as well. Reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove until warmed through.
Freezing Instructions: Once the cakes have cooled completely, remove them from the ramekins, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and freeze in a large freezer bag/container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave and top with toffee sauce right before serving.
Don't have ramekins? Pour the batter into a greased 9x13 baking pan and bake at 350°F for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Once cooled, slice into pieces and serve with the toffee sauce. 
Cuisine: British
Course: Dessert
Author: Danielle
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