I always have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions. I’m like everyone else in that I’ve had my January 1st’s that have begun with some declaration of change, that this, this will be the year I get out of debt, that I find the job that fulfills me, that I go to church more and keep my house clean and spend more time learning new and different things to cook instead of gravitating towards the stuff I know I can do.
And then suddenly it’s August, and I’ve made only one extra payment toward my credit cards and the house has been a mess since March, and the most adventurous I’ve gotten in the kitchen so far is from-scratch ice cream. Which sounds complicated, but I have a machine that does most of the work for me, so it’s not, really.
Last year, I promised myself that I would make 2013 count. That there would be nothing concrete planned out, but that it would be a year where I did things deliberately, and hopefully, so I could look back on December 31st and think, “Ok. that was a good one.”
Last night, as we were falling asleep, I said to the Big Man, “Can you believe that a year ago today, we had no intention of getting pregnant, no intention of opening a bar, and no plans to leave our apartment?” And yet, here we are, one year later – I’m knocked up and ready to burst, his bar opened in September and has been a total hit, and we’re living in a new apartment that is large enough to have an actual hallway between the bedrooms (this is still a big deal for me after living for over three years in the Shoebox).
We began the new year with no grand plans, and no stout resolutions. We just kind of sailed along with it as life happened. And life, thankfully, happened to be pretty great.
I’m starting this new year of 2014 with the same promise: live more deliberately, take life as it comes, hope for the big stuff, and do more in the kitchen. That last part is why the First on the First blogger challenge is always fun, even those times when it’s a total disaster. Making sticky toffee pudding was a first for me, although I’ve eaten my weight in them in the past – it’s a popular dessert in Ireland and we used to sell them at one of the restaurants I worked in, though I had never made one myself. The toffee sauce is the best part; I went back and made another batch, since I’m a glutton for it. I used a recipe by David Lebovitz, though I changed it up a bit according to what I had in my own kitchen, including the use of fresh ginger over candied (the fresh stuff gave a great, zingy vibe to a possibly heavy dessert) and subbed chopped California Figs instead of dates or raisins. Since I don’t have a pretty souffle dish, I used my boring old bread pan. Bonus: the sliced pan made it all the more easier for me to get at this cake during one of my “it’s 3 am and I’m HUNGRY” pregnancy cravings.
Make this sticky toffee pudding (at least make the sauce, it’s incredible) and keep your arms open to 2014.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dark corn syrup
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 heaping cup white flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup tap water
- 1/3 cup minced dried figs
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- For the toffee sauce: Heat all toffee ingredients together over medium-high heat, stirring often. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let cook, stirring often, until the sauce has turned a deep, caramelly-brown color and it thick enough to heavily coat a spoon. Remove from heat. Butter a 3"x9"x5" loaf pan and pour half of the toffee sauce in the bottom of the pan, making sure it evenly covers the entire bottom. Place the pan in the freezer.
- Preheat the oven to 350*F.
- For the pudding: Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together (using a hand whisk or a mixer) until coarsely combined and very light yellow in color.
- Add the egg, vanilla extract and water to the butter and sugar and stir until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, a little at a time, and mix together. Be careful not to overmix. Add the dried figs and ginger and stir.
- Remove the loaf pan from the freezer and pour the batter, evening out the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs attached. Let cool slightly before serving, with the remaining toffee sauce poured on top.
Interested in checking out First on the First? You don’t have to have a food blog to sign up! Come and make some kitchen mistakes and triumphs with us! Check out here or here for more info.
And here’s what the other First on the First bloggers came up with for this month’s challenge. (I really need to up my photo game after reading these)