Sticky toffee pudding is delicious - it's an amazing blend of tastes that appeals to pretty much everyone. This is one of the most impressive desserts for a crowd because it's easy to make, you can make it ahead, and it looks and tastes delicious. If you've never had this dessert, you're missing out. It's far more exciting than it sounds from the name.
I first had sticky toffee pudding at a restaurant and loved it so much that I decided to try making it at home. I found that it was a lot easier to make than you would think. The second time I made it, I decided to try making it a day ahead. To my happy surprise, it was even tastier than the first time! So yes, it's definitely possible to make ahead sticky toffee pudding with excellent results, but you need to know the make-ahead tips explained here.
I'll also link to the recipe I used and mention the modifications I made for making it ahead.
The 3 components of sticky toffee pudding
Before showing you how to make it ahead, it's important to understand that there are 3 different bits that you'll need when you plate out sticky toffee pudding:
- The cake part of the pudding - make according to the recipe
- The sauce - make according to the recipe
- Ice cream (or whipped cream or heavy cream) - you'll need to have this in stock at your home
It sounds complicated, but it's not! Rest assured it's easier than making a cake and frosting it. The recipe includes instructions for the cake and the sauce. You can see how those 3 parts look in the picture at the top of this article.
For now we'll assume that you already have your ice cream in your freezer, so we only really have to pay attention to the first 2 components.
Best recipe for sticky toffee pudding
I recommend this recipe for sticky toffee pudding at Celebrating Sweets - that's the one I used. It yields 10 - 12 generously sized servings, or more if you're making smaller serving sizes. I love this recipe best because it gives you options for using different bakeware. The instructions are designed to work with your choice of ramekins, a bundt pan, a muffin tray or an 8x8 pan. Ramekins are the traditional choice, but rest assured you can definitely make this delicious sticky toffee pudding without ramekins. The bundt cake pan option turned out beautifully for me.
If you have another recipe in mind, that's fine - these make ahead instructions work with any recipe for sticky toffee pudding.
How to make ahead sticky toffee pudding
Assuming you have the recipe mentioned or another recipe, here are the make ahead instructions for sticky toffee pudding.
1. Bake the cake part of the pudding
Make the cake part of the pudding as described in the recipe and let it cool. Here is a pic of mine - as you can see, I opted to make it in a bundt pan. This is because it's so much easier than messing with individual ramekins or muffins.
The cake part of the recipe looks a little intimidating at first, but the good news is that you can't really get it wrong. I've never had it turn out sub-optimal unlike some tricky desserts which are much more finicky to get right.
Also, you don't need a blender or mixer to make this. I used a wooden spoon to mix the batter, and a fork for mashing the dates and it turned out perfectly. Even people who don't like dates don't even notice them in this pudding since they're mashed up. I love that this fancy dessert is something you can make on a budget with just the most basic of kitchen equipment, yet it tastes so incredible.
2. Make the sauce
Make the sauce for the sticky toffee pudding as described in the recipe. This is done in a saucepan on the stovetop. Here is what mine looked like when it was done:
3. Pour about a third of the sauce over the pudding
Now drizzle about 1/3 of the sauce over the pudding, trying to cover most of the surfaces of the pudding. The recipe might say to pour half the sauce on, but if you're making it ahead you should only pour about a third of it on (a little more is OK but keep it to less than half the sauce). You don't want it getting soggy.
This is what my pudding looked like after I drizzled a third of the sauce on it:
It doesn't have to be perfect since no-one else will see it at this stage anyway.
4. Store the pudding and remaining sauce separately in containers in the fridge
Next you'll want to pack up the remaining sauce in a microwave-safe container and store it in the fridge overnight. Do the same for the pudding in a separate container. If you made ramekin or muffin-sized puddings you'll want to keep each one unbroken. But if you used a bundt pan or cake pan, you can opt to store the whole thing intact, or you may cut it up however you want so it fits in your container - so long as you don't break it up into pieces that are smaller than a serving size. What you do is up to you and it mostly depends on the size of your containers versus the size of the pudding.
So at this point you should have a container of the pudding and a separate container of the remaining sauce, as shown in in the image below. You can see that I cut up the bundt cake so it could fit into the container.
Put the lids on and store in the fridge overnight.
5. The next day when ready to serve, reheat both containers in the microwave
When ready to serve, reheat the pudding in the microwave. Suggested times will vary depending on your microwave and the size of your container. I suggest doing it in multiple 30 second intervals until it's warm (don't over-heat it - you're not trying to re-cook it!)
Then reheat the sauce in the microwave. Again, times will vary but the sauce is very resilient and will turn out beautifully so don't stress if you heat it too much.
6. Plate out both components and add ice cream
If you had a bundt cake or cake pan pudding, slice the pudding into individual serving sizes and put on plates. Top with the remaining sauce. Then serve with a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream or heavy cream. Here's mine:
Tips for making sticky toffee pudding for a crowd
Are you planning on serving this dessert at a dinner party, Christmas meal, or other event? If so, you'll want to know these sanity-saving tips for making sticky toffee pudding for a crowd. This impressive dessert is an ideal choice to make ahead for many people. These tips will make your life even easier:
- When baking the cake part of the pudding, opt for a bundt pan or cake pan. Do not make it with a muffin tray or ramekins since that takes ages to put the batter in each serving. Another reason you want a bundt pan or cake pan is that you can then adjust serving sizes at the last minute if need be. For example, if you find out you have a few more guests coming than you had thought, then at serving time you can simply cut your bundt or cake slices slightly smaller to account for the number of people. You won't have to make double quantities just to account for being 1 or 2 people over the number of ramekins or muffin tray servings you have.
- Don't even try to make this on the same day as your event! Instead use the make ahead tips that I mentioned above to make it a day early and store in the fridge as described. Once you're ready to serve, simply warm up the pudding and the sauce separately and serve as described above.
- If you need to make a large quantity of sticky toffee pudding, simply double or treble the recipe. You'll need extra cooking pans for the pudding (for example, 2 bundt pans if you've doubled the recipe). Fortunately the sauce can be made all in one batch, no matter how big the recipe. This recipe scales up conveniently for many people.
- This pudding is extremely rich in flavor and is dense and filling. Therefore, keep serving sizes relatively small, especially if you've had quite a filling main meal already. If people want seconds of dessert they are welcome, but most likely they'll feel very full with a single serving of sticky toffee pudding.
As a related sanity-saver for your dinner party or event, you may also like to find out how to handle it with no stress when party guests arrive early.
FAQ about sticky toffee pudding
What do you serve sticky toffee pudding with?
You can have sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or heavy cream. Typically you would place this topping on top of the pudding and sauce. In the case of ice cream it may be hard to balance it on top of the pudding so in that case putting it on the side right next to the pudding is perfectly fine. Your guests will love it! Remember that the topping will be cold while the pudding and sauce will be warm, so you'll want to top it at the last minute to avoid a melted mess of topping.
I would not recommend any flavor of ice cream other than vanilla, since anything else will likely clash with and compete with the flavor of the pudding. Also it's a very richly flavored dessert so a simple ice cream flavor is best anyway.
Is sticky toffee pudding healthy?
Not particularly. This is because there is quite a bit of sugar and fat, especially in the sauce more so than the pudding. In addition, the ice cream or other topping has quite a high fat content as well. However, since this dessert is so rich, you can adjust down the serving size so that you're not consuming quite as much sugar and fat in a serving. All of that said, if you're cooking for an extremely health-conscious crowd, sticky toffee pudding may not be the best choice (something like fruit salad would be a better alternative). But if you're cooking for a special occasion such as a Christmas meal, no-one will really expect a healthy dessert anyway!
Is sticky toffee pudding hard to make?
No. I found it surprisingly easy to make. It's slightly easier than making a cake from scratch and frosting it, so if that's something you've done then sticky toffee pudding will be easy for you.
Can you eat sticky toffee pudding with braces?
Yes. The toffee sauce is a sort of thick liquid but it's not chewy or tacky. You can definitely eat sticky toffee pudding with braces - it's basically a soft food. The sauce has the same general consistency as gravy but obviously a very different taste! Sticky toffee pudding is very easy for anyone to eat.
Is sticky toffee pudding cheap to make?
Yes it's fairly cheap to make, just slightly more expensive than baking a cake. The main extra costs come from the heavy cream that goes into the sauce (but you don't need a ton of it) and the dates that go into the pudding (again, you won't need a lot). Also, whatever topping you opt for will cost a bit extra - I recommend ice cream if you're on a budget since it's typically cheaper than whipped cream or heavy cream. Those items are the only costs that would go above and beyond the cost of making a cake.