Sticky toffee pudding is the comfort food we need right now and groundhogs reflect how I feel, since every day seems to be merging into one. So here is a combination of the two. As always, the decoration is optional. I used individual pudding moulds for these, but you can make them in muffin tins (you’ll get more portions, but each will be smaller), or you can bake it in a baking tin and slice after it’s cooled.
Makes eight individual puddings
For the pudding
120g dates (preferably medjool)
80ml boiling water
100g salted butter plus extra for greasing
180g self-raising flour (or gluten-free flour, plus 1tsp gluten-free baking powder, and 1tsp xanthan gum if your flour mix doesn’t already contain it) with a little extra for dusting
140g light muscovado sugar (or demerara or half dark muscovado sugar and half granulated sugar)
2tbsp black treacle (or golden syrup)
2 medium eggs
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g milk or any non-dairy milk
For the sauce
80g salted butter
180g light brown muscovado sugar
1tbsp black treacle
200g double cream (or coconut milk)
For the groundhog decoration (optional)
Any biscuit that you can cut into shape (I used a Rich Tea)
Water icing: 50g icing sugar plus a few drops of water
Brown and black food dye
Edible eyes or use white and black icing
Chocolate biscuit crumbled (or any biscuit mixed with cocoa powder)
Remove the stones from the dates and chop into chunks. Place in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Generously butter the 200ml pudding moulds. Sieve some flour over the top and shake off the excess.
Cream together the butter and sugar (it is fine if it’s a little grainy). Add the treacle and whisk again. Add the eggs slowly (a few tablespoons at a time), whisking well after each addition. Add the self-raising flour and bicarbonate of soda. Whisk until just combined (don’t over mix).
At this point, pour the dates and water into a food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Or you can mash them with a fork.
Add the blended dates to the cake batter, and then add the milk. Whisk until just combined. The mixture will look curdled – that is normal.
Divide between the moulds, and bake for around 25 to 30 minutes, or until springy on top. (While they are baking is a good time to make the groundhog decoration). Leave to cool in the tins while you make the sauce.
Add the butter, sugar, treacle and cream to a saucepan. Heat over medium heat and keep stirring until all the butter has melted and it is smooth.
Run a knife around the edge of the pudding tins and turn out on to a plate. Pour over the toffee sauce. Add decoration if desired. Eat straight away. Or keep well covered and reheat later to serve.
For the groundhog decoration
Use a knife to carefully trim your chosen biscuit into shape. Make the water icing: mix the icing sugar with a very small amount of water – just a few drops at a time – until it comes together as a smooth, pipeable icing.
Place a third into a piping bag. Then dye the remaining icing light brown. Put half of this into a second piping bag. Then add black food dye to the remaining icing, and transfer this to a third piping bag.
Use the white icing to carefully attach flaked almonds to create the ears. Then pipe on the face (adding edible eyes, or piping these on). Use small pieces of flaked almonds to create the teeth. Pipe the black icing to outline the biscuit and ears.
For the “soil”, crumble up a chocolate biscuit or a plain biscuit mixed with a little cocoa powder. Sprinkle the edible soil on top of the pudding, and then place the groundhog on top, pressing down so that it sticks into the pudding.