True story time: I don’t consider myself old by any means, but I’m old enough to remember back when you could only get Hershey’s Special Dark chocolates in the bag of assorted Hershey’s Miniatures. Maybe you could get them on their own in bigger cities, but not where I was at. And it seemed like those bags of miniatures only came out around Christmas time. There were always two things that could be found in Christmas shopping bags from the grocery store: whole nuts to crack open with the nutcracker, and those Hershey’s Miniatures.
I remember I used to stick my gleeful hands into the candy dish, riffling around for the Special Dark chocolates. No thank you, Mr. Goodbar. My tastes have evolved a little since then. Now when I taste a Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate bar it seems pretty similar to semi sweet chocolate. And that brings us to my thesis for today: I LOVE dark chocolate. The Darker the better (Well, nearly, anyway. There’s a point past 85% dark chocolate when it starts tasting like an unsweetened bar of baking chocolate). But up until then, I’m dark chocolate’s biggest fan. Have you ever tried Ina Garten’s Outrageous brownies? If you love dark chocolate, do yourself a favor and get on that!
But for today, my chocoholic dreamers and friends, I bring you chocolate sticky toffee cake. If you like dark, deep, delicious chocolate, this should do it for you. (I really just wanted to break into song right there and start telling you it’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s d’lovely. I’m in a Anything Goes kind of musical spirit today).
This cake is an ode to sticky toffee pudding with its base filled to the brim with tender, sticky dates. However, all the sauce is poured on top instead of allowed to partially soak in. Of course, a really brave and awesome person could probably make double the sauce, poke a bunch of toothpick holes into the finished cake, and pour half of the sauce over it, allowing it to sink in. That would probably be a pretty great idea.
This cake has such a wonderful depth of flavor thanks to the combination of dark chocolate, brandy, cinnamon, and coffee. It tastes like fireworks going off in your mouth. I swear there’s nothing better than cinnamon and chocolate together, holding hands and strolling into the sunset. So if you love dark chocolate or if you just want a sauce you could bathe in, this one is for you.
- 15 ounces whole Medjool dates, pitted
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3 tbsp. brandy
- 1 tbsp. rum
- 2 tbsp. strong-brewed coffee
- 4 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, divided
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 9 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- For the Glaze:
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup light corn syrup
- 1 tbsp. water
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp. heavy cream
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp plus 1½ tsp. brandy
- For the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Grease a 9 inch pie pan.
- Combine dates, brandy, coffee and 2 tbsp. of the cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl.
- Pour the boiling water over the date mixture and allow to sit for ten minutes.
- Puree the cooled off date mixture in a food processor, then place in a large bowl and set aside.
- Combine flour, salt, cinnamon, and remaining 2 tbsp. of cocoa in a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and dark brown sugar over medium speed until fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Stir baking soda into the pureed date mixture.
- On low speed add half of the flour mixture to the egg mixture, mixing well.
- Add half of the date puree to the egg mixture, beating well.
- Add the rest of the flour, then the rest of the date puree to the egg mixture, beating well after both additions.
- Add the chopped chocolate to the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for an hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow cake to cool four a half an hour, then remove from the pan and allow to cool entirely.
- To make the glaze: Combine butter, light brown sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring every once in a while.
- Boil for three minutes, then remove from heat.
- Whisk in cream.
- Add chocolate and stir until combined and smooth.
- Stir in brandy.
- Cool for 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
- To serve, place the cake on a cake stand and pour the glaze all over top.