Tea time and sticky toffee pudding is a very British combo but also one that is becoming better known here in the U.S. First, though, we have to get past the language barrier.
“Pudding” in Brit lingo is not quite the same as “pudding” in Yank lingo. Especially to those of us raised on Jell-O Instant Pudding, that smooth-textured, slides-down-the-throat kind of pudding in chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, banana, and other flavors. Nope, Brit “pudding” is quite different, and sticky toffee pudding is a true British tradition. Often, these puddings are steamed and tend to be more cake-like. They are usually served with a sweet, sticky toffee sauce, and tend to be especially popular during the Winter holiday season.
Some things when I start looking into them are downright hazardous to my waistline. This is one of them. Seeing all that gooey, luscious-looking, cakey pudding with a vanilla sauce (called “custard”) or a sticky toffee sauce can be too much temptation for even the most strong-willed among us. I can do this, though. I just have to exercise a little self-control… yes, that’s it… self-control… I will not eat sticky toffee pudding… I will not eat sticky toffee pudding… the chant is working … I will not eat sticky toffee — oh, who do I think I’m kidding? Gimme that sticky toffee pudding now!
Maybe I should make my own. I found a recipe online for sticky toffee pudding and perused it to see just what it takes to make this tea time treat. After scrolling down and down and down and down and down — gasp! — and down and down the page, I decided to go to a site that sells sticky toffee pudding and phone in an order. I am wise enough to know that some things — like making sticky toffee pudding — need to be left to the experts!
The history of this delectable treat is foggy, with origination (generally agreed to be in the UK) being attributed to a farmer’s wife in Lancashire, the self-taught chef and hotelier Francis Carson (or “Coulson”), and a woman living in Millington, among others. Regardless of the origins, tons of sticky toffee puddings are consumed annually and washed down with pots full of piping hot tea. Even pop star Madonna claims this as one of her weaknesses in an otherwise health-centered diet.
It should be the right tea, though, one that goes well with caramel since that is the main flavor that comes through. To counter the super sweetness of sticky toffee pudding, go for the Darjeeling (perhaps an Autumn Flush with its delicate yet bright taste), or some Earl Grey with a bit of sweetener and maybe even a splash of milk, a green Ceylon, or a smooth-tasting Dragonwell. If you want your tea to be on equal footing, palate-wise, with the heavy flavor of this dessert, go for Assams, with their heavier flavor and ability to take milk well. A black Ceylon would also be a good choice here or even some Ti Kuan Yin or Tung Ting Oolong.
Whatever your choice, after that last bite is a memory and that last drop of tea is still echoing around in your mouth, your world will seem a warmer and cozier place, your checking account will automatically balance, and a bluebird will land on your window sill and serenade you. Well, those last two are a bit iffy, but that first one is guaranteed. Enjoy!
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