Espresso Sticky Toffee Pudding

Serves 9

Sticky toffee pudding is a traditional English dessert with a spongy cake that is sweetened with gooey dates and infused with a rich, buttery toffee sauce. In this twist on the classic, we infuse our dates with aromatic espresso before folding them into the batter. Fresh lemon zest and cardamom also provide a bit of lightness in this decadent cake. In this recipe we use instant espresso powder, but you can also skip the boiling water and use an equal amount of freshly brewed espresso, if desired.



  • 1½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • 1¼ cups boiling water
  • 1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups Rancho Meladuco Medjool dates (about 24 small dates), pitted and chopped (Our Grinders are perfect for this!)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 small lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Toffee Sauce

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Coffee or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Make the Cake Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9-inch square metal baking pan with butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk the boiling water with the instant espresso powder and the baking soda. Add the dates and let stand for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or in a large bowl and using a hand mixer, beat the 1½ sticks of butter with both sugars at medium speed until it is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add the lemon zest, and vanilla extract. Beat in the espresso soaked dates and their liquid—the mixture will look curdled. Gradually add the dry ingredients until the batter is just combined, scraping the sides as needed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the cake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the center is set and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, Make the Toffee Sauce In a large saucepan (the sauce will bubble up), combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce reaches 218°F on an instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Remove the cake from the oven and transfer the pan to a cooling rack. Prick the top all over with a wooden skewer. Pour 1 cup of the warm toffee sauce over the top and let sit until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.

Cut the cake into squares and transfer to plates. Top each piece with a scoop of coffee or vanilla ice cream, if desired. Drizzle with more toffee sauce and serve right away.

Recipe and photos by Julia Heffelfinger @juliaheff

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