Back in LA for two weeks, I'm having flashbacks to the work I did here a few years ago on my book, The Greyston Bakery Cookbook (Rodale).
One of the groups of recipes I added to the book that were not based on products from the Bakery were the individual cakes, which I affectionately called cakelets: Chocolate Molten Cakelets, Steamed Lemon Cakelets, and Sticky Toffee Cakelets. Any of these would be great for Valentine's Day. Today I'm sharing the Sticky Toffee Cakelets.
Sticky Toffee Puddings, common in England, are usually sweetened with dates. This recipe uses a combination of dates and dried apricots for a more tangy and less sickly-sweet confection.
You can turn up the decadence of these gooey cakes by topping them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream before pouring on the sauce or down by omitting the sauce altogether and serving with a small dollop of whipped cream.
I've written the recipe for four servings in case your Valentine plans are a double date, or four single friends. Or, if it's just you and your sweetie, you might just want to plan for seconds and make all four anyway. No time for seconds? Have the other two in the morning.
Sticky Toffee Cakelets (adapted from The Greyston Bakery Cookbook)
Makes 4 single-serving cakes
For the cakes: 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots 1/4 cup pitted finely chopped dates 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 6 tablespoons packed brown sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) 1 egg 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the sauce: 1/3 cup packed brown sugar 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 1/3 cup evaporated milk or heavy cream 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350° F. Grease four 6-ounce ramekins and line bottoms with parchment paper rounds.
In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to blend. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the apricots and dates. Pour enough boiling water over the fruit to cover. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Drain the fruit and gently fold it into the mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed up high and a cake tested inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. The cakes will fall like a soufflé when removed from oven. Allow cakes to cool slightly before turning out of their ramekins. Turn each right side up on a small serving plate.
Prepare the sauce: Combine sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until butter is completely melted and the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, until the sauce darkens to a deep brown color.
To serve, drizzle the warm sauce over the cakes, allowing the some sauced to pool in the center where the cakes have fallen.