Tahini toffee pudding by Reem Kassis – recipe

My feet were sore and my heart was heavy after a long day of walking. I had left Jerusalem again and was going to make London my home for the foreseeable future. After a day spent sorting out living arrangements, I stumbled into a pub I had read about once in a novel. I ordered fish and chips and I splurged on a dessert the waiter told me was not to be missed. It was my first experience of sticky toffee pudding. It wrapped me in such warm comfort that night and remained my favourite dessert until I left London with a family in tow, five years later, to make Philadelphia my new home. At first, I felt a sense of betrayal at tinkering with this dessert that had been so good to me, but this version with tahini is so sublime that the transgression can only be forgiven.

Serves 9-12
butter and flour for the tin
pitted medjool dates 250g
boiling water 250ml
vanilla extract 1 tsp
unsalted butter 70g
granulated sugar 150g
eggs 2
tahini 5 tbsp
plain flour 200g
bicarbonate of soda 2 tsp
baking powder 1 tsp
vanilla ice-cream or Greek yoghurt to serve

For the toffee sauce
double cream 175ml
unsalted butter 85g
light brown sugar 85g
date molasses 3 tbsp
tahini 1 tbsp
salt a pinch

Preheat the oven to 160C fan/gas mark 4. Butter and flour a 23cm round or 23cm x 33cm rectangular cake tin. In a food processor, combine the dates, boiling water and vanilla, and blend into a smooth puree. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In the same food processor bowl, combine the butter and granulated sugar, and cream until pale and well combined. It won’t fluff up as it would in a mixer, but that’s fine. Add the eggs and tahini, and process until you have a pale smooth puree. Tip the flour, bicarb of soda and baking powder into the food processor and process until combined. Fold the date mixture back in and process just until combined, taking care not to overbeat the batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake tin and transfer to the oven. Bake until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 45 minutes. You can start testing at 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce. In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter, brown sugar and date molasses and cook over low heat until the butter melts. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, add the tahini and salt, and give one final stir. The tahini toffee sauce should be warm when served and can be reheated on the stovetop if necessary. To serve, place an individual slice on a serving plate, top with ice-cream or yoghurt, and drizzle with the warm sauce.