Snow, then ice pellets, then freezing rain, then back to snow again – this has been our weather pattern for the past six weeks. Today is definitely another stay at home day, and for those weary of winter what better thing to do than to bake. Your kitchen will smell lovely and your family is sure to be appreciative. The third Monday in February is Family Day in Canada, as the government felt we needed a long holiday weekend to ward off the winter blues. The idea is to spend the day outdoors with your family enjoying some winter activities, which inspired my mother to paint this picture.
The weather cooperated last night with an unexpected six inch snowfall which made everything clean and white for tobogganing, skiing or skating. It’s pretty, but I would much prefer to see some greenery in my backyard and if there are any snowdrops beneath the neighbour’s tree they must be smothered by now.
There’s finally some warmth to the sun and the air has that mild feeling that tells you winter is winding down, but it’s still cold enough to make a nice warm dessert appealing. I stole this recipe for sticky toffee pudding from a local coffee shop which specializes in homemade deserts – well they graciously emailed it to me after I told them theirs was the best ever. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a big seller for them, but sticky toffee pudding is not that well known in Canada, although becoming more popular. Often thought of as a classic British dessert, it’s origins are actually Canadian, as (Wikipedia) legend has it that two Canadian WW2 officers gave the recipe to a British restaurant owner who put it in a cookbook. So I guess you could say it’s circled back across the pond. It’s really more of a cake, but as pudding is an interchangeable term for dessert in Britain, it’s best served with tea (and you can pretend you’re at Downton Abbey).
I used a big muffin pan instead of an eight inch square dish, as it makes perfect portions, and that’s how the coffee shop served it.
But I scooped the rest of the leftover batter into a small red loaf pan from Christmas because it looked more festive. Watch the baking time closely, as I took them out a bit before thirty minutes and they were still well done, (and my oven normally cooks slow).
The caramel sauce is sweet but not too sweet. I find those cans of 2% evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed), always have a peculiar smell and taste, but you don’t notice it when it’s boiled together with the sugar and butter. Some recipes say you can use cream if you wish, and I may try that sometime but I didn’t have any and the grocery store was closed because of the holiday. Of course cream will up the saturated fat content. Our (President’s Choice) grocery store sold an excellent microwavable freezer brand of this desert, and I was horrified to see they clocked in at 550 calories and over 60% of the days saturated fat quota. We have extensive food labeling here, which probably discouraged people from buying them as the product was discontinued. (Note the calories can be cancelled out by volunteering to shovel the driveway). While many restaurant versions of this desert (and I’ve sampled a few), have a moister darker cake, sometimes with spices, this one is lighter in color and more like a muffin texture. Store the sauce in the refrigerator if not using right away and reheat. If you like lots of warm sauce (and who doesn’t as it makes the cake), there was enough evaporated milk in the 300ml can to double the batch. It’s a rich decadent desert, so you might even want to split one with someone, and of course don’t forget the tea!
Song of the Day: Tea for Two – Ella Fitzgerald