Have you been enjoying the London Olympics? Our family is burning the mid-night oil this week, viewing much more television that normal. How about that Gabby Douglas? Not to mention Missy Franklin and world-record setting Rebecca Soni – it’s been exciting to see our teams do so well this time and during this Olympiad sharing the excitement with our 4-year old has been a treat. Yes, we‘ve let her stay up late to watch. Perhaps we’ll pay for that after another week (when she’ll go back to a normal bedtime), but the summer games are only every 4 years, so what the hay?
I remember seeing many spectacular moments as I watched the games throughout my childhood. Let’s see… Mark Spitz winning 7 gold medals and setting 7 world records, Nadia Comaneci awarded a perfect 10 for her uneven bar routine and the 1996 ‘Magnificent Seven’ winning gold in Atlanta. I was very lucky to attend the games in ‘96 and although I did not get to attend any gymnastics I did go to some diving, baseball and celebrate at the Warsteiner Village with some refreshing Premium Verum and Dunkel.
This time around I am enjoying seeing the sights around London and remembering the trip I made there several years ago with two of my sisters. Cudos to the London Olympic Committee and the all British travel professionals because I really want to go back now. During my previous excursion, our accommodations were a pretty flat located very near Buckingham Palace that boasted a terrace view of Big Ben. We took in many of the regular touristy sights (love that British Museum as well as the Tate) and saw the show “Chicago!’ (ironic to see it in “London!”), visited Greenwich (of ‘Mean Time’ fame) and had several delightful meals around town including lunch at The Ivy, where we lucked into a reservation at a moment’s notice.
As I remember all three of us ordered à la carte and everything we ate (and shared) was quite good. Being a foodie-type person even then, I had done my homework and knew something about The Ivy and it’s fabled sticky toffee pudding. As stuffed as we were from our entrees and as one sis left to work (that’s we were able to tag along on the trip), my other sister and I hunkered down for dessert. I was not leaving without that sticky toffee pudding! In fact, I think I inquired if they had it on the menu that day before we were even seated.
Needless to say the pudding was more than I had hoped for, it was rich and dense and gooey with toffee/caramel flavor. It was simply fantastic. I’m pretty sure I rolled myself back to the flat for a power nap afterwards.
My new purpose in life was to recreate it, once I returned home. I found The Ivy recipe and had fun making it a few times for dinner parties, telling anecdotes from my trip to London and The Ivy. Over the years I have played around with the original recipe, making additions occasionally and reducing the serving quantity. Honestly it is a very rich dessert, so a little goes a long way.
It’s my small homage to the Brits and London, in particular. Here’s to you London for being a great host of the games this time around. Nice to see you on the telly, but I do hope to visit again in person. Cherrio!
Sticky Toffee Banana Pudding
- 1 cup pitted dates, rough chopped
- 1 cup ripe bananas, mashed
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ cup boiling water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 tbl. butter, melted
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 recipe caramel toffee sauce (see below)
- ice cream, whipped cream or crème fraiche
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil or butter a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.
In a bowl place dates and pour boiling water. Allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Place dates and soaking water in food processor and chop until fine – almost a puree but with keeping some small bits. Add the baking soda and set aside.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat vegetable oil and sugar. Add melted butter and mix. Add egg one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix in vanilla extract and stir in the flour mixture. Beat on medium speed 1-2 minutes, scraping bowl. Stir in dates and banana.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 20-23 minutes or just until the center of the pudding is not jiggly in the center. Do not over bake. Remove pudding to a rack to cook – but leave in the pan! Make the caramel toffee sauce (below).
Using a skewer punch holes across and all over the top of the pudding. Pour half of the hot caramel toffee sauce over the pudding so it soaks in for at least 15 minutes. Cut warm pudding into squares, top with a dollop of whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche. Drizzle a spoonful (or two!) of caramel toffee sauce.
Make 6-9 servings. Store leftover pudding, covered, in the refrigerator.
Caramel Toffee Sauce
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 6 tbl. butter
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a saucepan, heat the butter with the sugar over low heat. Add the cream and stir. Increase heat to a simmer and keep stirring. When the mixture begins to foam, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour half over the pudding & reserve other half for serving with individual portions of the pudding. Refrigerate any leftovers.