President Obama and First Lady Obama are welcoming about 14,000 people to their home during 24 holiday parties and receptions this year, and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and his team are working non-stop to keep the gorgeous dessert tables laden with seasonal treats. Yosses' White House Sticky Toffee Pudding is an embroidery on the classic British sweet that has been a staple at the Presidential holiday parties for the last four years, and he has newly released his recipe, scaled for the home chef. (Above: The First Couple walk down the Grand Staircase to a holiday reception on Dec. 4)
The dessert is not pudding in the American sense of the word, but rather a rich, dark cake that takes its flavor from pureed dates--Yosses suggests Medjool--brown sugar, loads of butter, and whipping cream. It's topped with a very sweet toffee sauce, served warm, that creates an explosion of joy in the mouth. (Above, the Pudding at a reception on Dec. 5)
Between 200 and 400 guests are invited to each Presidential holiday party, so Yosses and his team bake on a grand scale. Each oversized Pudding is served in a large chafing dish with the sauce on the bottom. These are placed atop silver claw-foot stands over lit sternos to keep warm, and guests scoop out their own portions with long-handled spoons--or are helped by the many friendly Butlers hovering nearby.
Yosses, who is on hand each evening to oversee the sugar operation for the receptions, says the toffee sauce can be made up to two days in advance, and then refrigerated in a tightly sealed container. To re-heat, place in a sauce pan over a low flame before serving. The ultra indulgent will dollop unsweetened whipped cream on top of their pudding before enjoying it.
Yosses has other signature White House holiday desserts on offer at the parties, including Apple Pie and Huckleberry Pie and Gingerbread Cookies and Pumpkin Cake. His nearly 300-pound Gingerbread White House is a show-stopper this year, too. The savory dinner buffet menu includes recipes featured in the First Lady's Grammy-nominated book, American Grown.
White House Sticky Toffee Pudding
For the pudding:
*8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature, plus more for the ramekins or cake pan
*3 Cups flour
*1 Teaspoon baking powder
*1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
*9 ounces Dates, preferably Medjool
*1 Cup warm water
*2 Cups packed dark brown sugar
*3 large eggs at room temperature, beaten
For the sauce:
*2 1/2 Cups heavy whipping cream
*2 Cups packed light brown sugar
*1/3 Cup corn syrup
*8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
For the pudding:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter eight 8-ounce ramekins or one 9-inch cake pan.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl.
3. Coarsely chop the dates, discarding the pits. Combine dates and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, adjusting heat so the water boils slowly.
4. Transfer the dates and water to a food processor and process to form a smooth puree.
5. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the eggs, beating until well incorporated. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, then reduce the speed to low. Add the flour mixture and beat until well incorporated.
6. Add the date puree a little at a time, beating to combine.
7. Pour the batter into cake pan, or divide the batter evenly among the ramekins.
8. Bake 25 to 35 minutes, just until a cake tester comes out clean; do not over bake. Transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature.
For the sauce:
1. Combine the heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil, then reduce the heat to medium and boil for 10 minutes. For a thicker sauce, boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter until it has melted.
3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, but keep it in a warm place while the puddings are cooling.
*Serve the pudding at room temperature and pass the warm sauce on the side.
Above, a serving of the pudding on a guest's plate at the White House, dolloped with unsweetened whipped cream. Check the sidebar for all White House recipes.
Click here for links to all posts about the 2012 holidays.
Download: The Official White House Holiday Tour Booklet [PDF]
*Top photo by Pete Souza/White House; all other photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama