Dairy-free and gluten-free
The recipe I adapted for this gluten- and dairy-free dessert calls itself a healthier version of a sticky toffee pudding. It comes from the Hemsley sisters who are well known for healthy eating recipes and I found it on the Vogue website. That's not a website that I would think to look at for recipes but it came up in a Google search for recipes using coconut flour.
While I'm all for healthy eating, that wasn't the aspect of the recipe that really interested me. What I wanted was a gluten-free recipe that could be adapted to be dairy-free as well. In this recipe the flour is replaced by ground almonds and coconut flour. The recipe also cuts out added refined sugar, relying on just the dates for natural sweetness. I wasn't convinced this would be sweet enough for those more used to normal puddings, so I added 75g of light muscovado sugar. I replaced the butter with coconut oil and added 75g chopped walnuts for texture and flavour (and also so that this dessert could be my contribution to this month's AlphaBakes challenge).
1 1/4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
200ml boiling water
100g coconut oil
75g light muscovado sugar
3 eggs (mine happened to be large)
200g ground almonds
pinch of ground cloves
20g coconut flour
75g walnut pieces
* I used a semi-dry date which was still quite moist and sticky. I cut each date crossways into three pieces with scissors - this ensures there are no pits left in any of them.
(I don't have a large food processor, so adapted the method in the original recipe to use a hand (stick) blender.)
Soak the dates in the boiling water and bicarbonate of soda for 10 minutes. While still warm, use a hand blender to purée the dates, and their liquid, with the coconut oil. If you can leave a few pieces of dates in the mixture it gives more texture to the pudding, so don't blend too much.
Transfer the date mixture to a large bowl and stir in the sugar, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Stir in the ground almonds and cloves, then sift over the coconut flour and fold in quickly. Lastly, fold in the walnut pieces.
Transfer to a baking dish (I used one roughly 20cm square), greased with coconut oil, and bake at 170C for around 45 minutes, until firm. You might need to cover the pudding towards the end of the cooking time, if it's getting too dark.
Cut into portions to serve while still warm - it should serve 8-12 people depending on appetite.
The resulting dessert was delicious but not really dark and sticky enough to call itself a 'sticky toffee' pudding in my opinion, so I've just called it a sponge pudding. It was surprisingly light, considering it was just raised by the bicarbonate of soda. Adding 75g of sugar seemed to make the pudding just about right to me, in terms of sweetness, so I'm not sure how enjoyable the original version would have been. However, it's certainly worth a try if so-called 'sugar-free' baking appeals to you - but remember that dried fruit such as dates contain a lot of natural sugar, so you're not cutting out all sugar!
Adding the walnuts, and leaving some pieces of dates in the blended mixture made the texture of the pudding more interesting - the walnuts added crunch and the pieces of dates added bursts of sweet caramel flavour. If you don't like nuts, adding some plumped up raisins or sultanas would keep some textural variations - I would soak them in orange juice or something similar, so that they didn't absorb too much moisture from the cake batter, as coconut flour needs all the moisture it can get to avoid making things really dry and stodgy. I didn't make the suggested sauce to serve with the dessert, as I needed to stay dairy-free, but it was very good with a little maple syrup poured over it, and served with natural yogurt.
AlphaBakes is a monthly challenge hosted by Caroline, at Caroline Makes, and Ros, at The More Than Occasional Baker. The idea of the challenge is to use a randomly chosen letter of the alphabet as the first letter of a prominent ingredient, or a word in the name of the dish made. This month, Caroline is the host, the letter is W, and I used Walnuts.