About half past ten in a small town somewhere in the north of Germany. It is very likely that you will find my dear collegue or me (or both) standing in front of our office pin board, studying the menu of the day which is offered in the cantine where we usually go for lunch. Somehow we are both food addicts and in the meantime it has become our little ritual of the day to make in advance our lunch selection and to look if there might be also one of her or mine favourite comfort foods on the menu. Dishes which comfort me these days are for example potato fritters with apple sauce, pasta or spinach with eggs (does not matter if boiled, fried or stirred) and mashed potatoes. The potato fritters were already my most favourite comfort food when I was a child, but during the last years they have been topped by pasta and by spinach. In German I once heard the sentence “Nudeln machen glücklich” (“Pasta makes you happy”) and I am convinced that for me this is true. And spinach I love to eat almost always when I feel I could need some extra comfort. In my freezer there is always a package of frozen spinach… just in case…
This year during my vacation which I spent together with the man of my choice on Guernsey I discovered a dessert which directly became a new special comfort food for me. It is called sticky toffee pudding. Later I learned that it is also considered a modern British classic but I never have heard about it before. It is a (very) rich baked composition made from finely chopped dates, butter and sugar, covered in a warm toffee sauce and often served with vanilla ice cream. But luckily, when it comes to comfort food, calories do not matter :-). Even more happy I was, because I discovered this great dessert already on our first evening when we went for dinner to the hotel bar. By this I had the chance to have more than one of these great explosions to the senses when you taste this sweet, warm and cosy combination of the pudding which rather has the consistence of a soft slightly creamy cake together with the warm sweet toffee sauce and as a contrast the vanilla ice cream which also helps to avoid that the combo becomes too sweet. And the advantage of being in the bar together with a man, who has a similair taste when it comes to those desserts, was, that we could share them. This is actually also something I would highly recommend. Even if you are the whole day outside and walking up and down like we did during our vacation and this sticky toffee pudding is all that you are looking forward to (which I often did during that week) it is still quite much, especially if you will have it after a complete dinner.
Being back home I was directly browsing the internet for some sticky toffee pudding recipes and found at Cider & More also a German written recipe (although I think, because of the given quantities, it is a direct translation from some British origin). Now, with typical German November weather outside I have given this recipe its first try and it directly works. And even better – although enjoying the sticky toffee pudding now at home and not at Guernsey, this dessert gave me immediatley this special feeling of comfort I had felt there. Together with a hot tea the sticky toffee pudding is for me now the perfect companion for a relaxing day together, or just for your own, on the couch, watching vacation photos and feeling being back there as soon as you have tried the first bit.
By the way, while comfort food is a general English term which you find also explained in the English wikipedia it seems that there is no exact German translation or even a wikipedia entry available. During the last week I have talked also with some friends about it, and German descriptions I have collected by this are terms like Nervennahrung, Hausmannskost, Wohlfühlessen, Trostessen or Lieblingsessen aus der Kindheit but none of them really meet the spirit of comfort food and I have to admit I envy now a little bit the English people for having this great work in their language!
Sticky Toffee Pudding
- vanilla ice cream optional
- 285 ml boiling water
- 170 g pitted dates finely chopped
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 56 g butter
- 170 g sugar
- 1 egg
- 225 g flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
Ingredients toffee sauce
- 84 g butter
- 126 g brown sugar
- 2 tsp creme fraiche
- Preheat the oven to 175 ° C. Pour the boiling water over the dates and the baking soda and let the mixture stand.
- Mix the butter and sugar well together. Gradually add the egg, flour and baking powder and at last also the dates with the water.
- Pour the dough into well-greased ovenproof ramekins and bake for about 40 minutes, until the mixture is raised and forms a soft crust.
- For the toffee sauce, mix the butter with the brown sugar and creme fraiche and simmer for two minutes. Serve the yet warm pudding immediately with the sauce and add, if you wish, vanilla ice cream as topping.
This post is also my submission to the Goodie Bag Giveaway Event hold by the team behind From Plate to Page which hold regularly intensive hands-on food photography and writing workshop aimed at food bloggers, writers and photographers.