Thursday, July 17, 2014

Celebrate! Elegant Date #Cake with Sticky Toffee Sauce #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: My turn to dance around shouting "celebrate! celebrate!" (I'm the one waving purple orchids...) I have to pack in a lot today: a recipe, an update on our wonderful friend and writer Jenn McKinlay, and an explanation of the double contest. So don't quit reading early!

I was a later addition to Mystery Lovers Kitchen, appearing first as a guest in 2011 with one of my favorite summer dishes, the leaning tower of eggplant. I was thrilled to be invited as a full-timer. It's a lot of work, of course, but I love this community so much. And I've become a more inventive, accomplished cook, besides writing all the foodie mysteries.

And now for the cake...I tasted this cake during our trip to Japan and have been meaning to make it ever since. I did see an Ina Garton recipe that I think called for three sticks of butter--but I wanted us to be able to move on the dance floor, so here's my pared-down, elegant and luscious version of date cake. But whatever you do, don't skip the caramel sauce!


3/4 cups pitted, quartered dates
3/4 cups water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt


For Sticky Toffee Sauce:
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, place the dates, water and vanilla and bring to a boil. Simmer until soft (might take 5 minutes.) Remove from the heat, add the baking soda, mix well. Let the mixture cool. Meanwhile...
Cream butter with sugars. Beat in the eggs. Add the dry ingredients, and finally the cooled date mixture. (Do not worry about leaving little chunks of dates--they will provide some nice texture.) Pour the batter into a well-buttered cake pan. (I also added a layer of parchment paper and buttered that for good measure.) Bake at 350 about 40-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn the cake out onto a platter. 

For the sauce, mix brown sugar, cream, butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until thick, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add a splash of vanilla. 

Poke holes in the cake and pour the sauce overall. 

Serve warm if possible. 

Even better, serve with homemade whipped cream--this is a party after all!

And now an update from the incomparable Jenn McKinlay:

I'm still chugging along on my three series for Berkley Prime Crime -- Library Lover's, London Hat Shop, and Cupcake Bakery mysteries.  I'm finishing my other series the Good Buy Girls written under the name Josie Belle and have no idea what's next.  I like to follow the uncharted course.

WHAT A CATCH is one of my fave posts, probably, because I am hankering for some fried catfish right now:

When my next door neighbor was painting
his living room, he asked my husband if he
would babysit, or rather fish-sit, his fish of
unknown origin for him until the room was
done. That was a year and a half ago and
the fish of unknown origin is still living on top
of our piano, blowing bubbles and waving
his fins at me. Read the post here

Oh, and in a related update, we still have the neighbor's catfish.  He continues to blow bubbles and wave his fins at me.  The neighbor has moved to Pennsylvania, so I don't think I'm going to be returning Kevin (yes, we named the fish after the neighbor) any time soon.  It's okay.  I've grown quite fond of Kevin, but if you tell the Hub or hooligans I said that I will deny it.

I was such a newbie when I started writing mysteries.  I didn't belong to any groups or organizations. I'd never done the conference thing.  When Krista Davis asked me to join the blog, it was my first connection to any other mystery writers.  They were all so generous and kind with their information and encouragement and their recipes, that I really felt like we were all hanging out in a big kitchen, sharing food and snippets about our lives.  


Now for the contests! #1 Leave a comment here today telling us what you'd serve at a celebration and you'll be entered in a drawing to win the Key West mystery of your choice. Don't forget to leave your email and which book you'd like...

#2 Go to this link to enter the photo contest, which runs until July 24. Prizes are these fabulous bags and books from each of us at MLK!

Follow Lucy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.


  1. I'd serve cupcakes because they are fun and colorful and make people happy. rachelkb at

  2. I would serve whatever the people celebrating wanted. Many times it's red velvet or lemon. I would like to win your next book because I have all the others.

  3. I would serve cupcakes. I love making cupcakes! I would choose your next book coming out because I have all the others.

  4. My husband has been away on business and will be returning tonight. I have a Nutella Cheesecake in the oven right now to celebrate his return!

  5. All of our kids are coming next week and one family has dietary requirements so our food celebrations will be a little quieter this year. We all will try to stick with their food plan so their kids don't have to watch others eat things that they may want. But the best part will be the dancing to celebrate all of us being together! But the cake looks very good!

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

  6. Silly me...I prefer pie, over cake, and have always been a fan of French apple.

    I'd love to win Murder with Ganache.

    patucker54 at aol dot com

  7. I would probably cheat and go to Costco and pick up one of their great white sheet cakes. You can't go wrong with them.
    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  8. It always varies depending on who will be there and what the event is. Never anything too fancy. But this time I think it would have to be Lucy's Lime Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting. They were a bit hit and disappeared immediately. Pretty, too!

  9. I would make marble cake since it is a very big favorite and great for many occasions. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  10. During the summer I would make Lemon tarts since I love anything lemon and they would be delightful. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  11. chocolate cake

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  12. Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry icing.

    littleone AT shaw DOT ca

  13. My husband's birthday is next month and he LOVES peach cobbler. I am going to make Krista's Magic Peach Cobbler. Perhaps I should make one in advance just to be sure I get it right. :)

  14. One year for my husband's birthday I made two cakes--one was a Grand Marnier orange cake and the other was Julia Child's Triple Chocolate Bomb. A fine bit of celebrating.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  15. If I was serving in for a celebration for me----baklava; for my hubby ---chocolate cake wit chocolate frosting.

  16. What a gorgeous cake! Love it. And love catching up on Jenn, always. She's such a fun lady!

    Daryl /Avery

  17. Sticky toffee was new to me until a few years ago. I'm under the impression that it has been a big favorite in Britain for a long time. I'm very eager to try this. Sounds fabulous, Lucy!


  18. This recipe sounds delicious. My grandmother made the best date nut loaf. I love all the key west mysteries. I love Hayley and Evinrude.

  19. With fresh picked Maine blueberries here in New England now is the time that I make all of my fresh blueberry recipes. One is a blueberry pie with some blueberries cooked with sugar to form the glaze for the rest of the pie of all fresh berries. I make a homemade from scratch pre-baked flaky pie shell (deep dish) and topped off with whipped cream. I also love my Mom's family recipe for easy sugar topped blueberry cake which is great for breakfast, snacks or dessert. I use a LOT of fresh berries for desserts as long as I can get the best then I am into apples and every kind of apple dessert in the fall. :)


  20. I am sorry but I neglected to mention that I would love to win Death in Four Courses if I were lucky enough to win. Thank you.

  21. I'd serve guacamole -- it's the best thing I make. The key is garlic. My email is kggiarratano at gmail dot com. I'd love any Key West mystery -- it's my fave place.

  22. Cherry Cheese Cake


  23. I would serve either angel food cake or brownies,either one of which makes my husband very happy.
    I would love to win the first Key West book, it's on my TBR list
    Kim j

  24. Tropical Cheesecake with fresh blueberries and raspberries scattered on top.
    I'd like MURDER WITH GANACHE if I'm lucky enough to win!


  25. I would serve barbeque ribs dripping with sauce. I would love to win any of your books.

  26. Thank you all so much for the delicious goodies--you know how to make a celebration special! Yesterday's lucky winner is KIMBERLY, but there's another giveaway today and all through next week...xoxo

  27. For a celebration, I think I'd probably serve something easy for me to make -- like box mix brownies. And they would have to have some nuts (pecans probably, or walnuts would be ok) and I'd probably throw in some mini chocolate chips too.
    Or easier still would just be pull out some ice cream.
    I don't know though, hubby might like me to try your date cake. He loves to eat dates.

  28. This sounds lovely. Going to give this a go. thanks for sharing this recipe.