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Sticky toffee pudding gets made-over into a sheet pan dessert bar thanks to a shortbread crust in this decadent recipe from Chef Ryan Scott.
"Think if sticky toffee pudding and a shortbread cookie had a love child, well, this would be it. Buttery base with a gooey date and pecan top, only to be covered with a hot date toffee sauce for a luscious finish. You'll never be lonely with these date bars by your side." –Ryan
- The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated if you want—just bring to room temperature before baking. (Also, this recipe makes for a delicious shortbread cookie. Just slice them up after baking for a tasty treat with tea like the Scottish do!) If you'd rather skip the rum, soak the dates in water for 10 minutes to soften and then drain before using.
- Serve hot for a messy, warm dessert or let the sauce set for a packable snack stacked with wax paper in between layers. (By the way, the toffee sauce tastes amazing over ice cream, so consider making a double batch).
- Ryan uses Just Date Syrup to make his toffee sauce and Maldon salt for the ideal sweet-salty combo.
For more sheet pan recipes from this episode, check out Rach's Korean-Style Chicken + Vegetables, Gail Simmons' Moroccan-Style Chicken with Apricots, Olives & Lemons and Ronnie Woo's Teriyaki Salmon With Baby Bok Choy.
- Neutral-flavored cooking spray, such as canola oil, for pan
- 2¼ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature and softened
- ¾ cup confectioners' sugar
- 3½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- ½ cup rum or water
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ cups corn syrup
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup flour
- 3 cups pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons date syrup (Ryan likes Just Date Syrup)
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- ½ tablespoon flaky sea salt (Ryan likes Maldon), for topping (optional)
For the shortbread crust, preheat oven to 400˚F.
Line a 17-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, then lightly spray the parchment with cooking spray.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and confectioners' sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the salt and mix for about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, add the flour, then gradually increase the speed to medium, pausing the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until mixture is combined and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the sticky dough to the center of the prepared baking sheet. To help spread out the dough, take a second sheet of parchment paper, lightly spray one side, then press the coated-side onto the mound of sticky dough. Using your hands, press through the parchment until the dough is evenly distributed from edge to edge of the baking sheet. Remove and discard the top sheet of parchment sheet.
With the tines of a fork, lightly poke holes from edge to edge of the dough.
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until light golden, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
For the date-pecan layer, combine dates and rum or water in a small saucepan. If using rum, carefully set the rum ablaze and flambé until the alcohol has evaporated, swirling the pan to keep the dates from burning. Remove from the stove and set aside. If using water, bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes, then remove from heat and let cool; drain and discard water once cool.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, granulated sugar and corn syrup until light yellow and glossy. Add baking powder and soda, salt and flour, then whisk until combined. Stir in the dates and pecans.
Using a rubber spatula, spread the date-pecan mixture over the parbaked shortbread from edge to edge. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown and the date-pecan layer puffs up to the edges of the pan, 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the toffee sauce, melt the brown sugar, date syrup and butter in a pan and bring to a boil slowly, allowing the mixture to dissolve and combine, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the cream. Return the pan to heat and bring back up to a boil, stirring, and cook for 3 minutes more until the sauce is thick and glossy.
Pour the toffee sauce over the uncut bars and spread in a thin even layer. Cool slightly, then sprinkle with salt, if using, slice and serve warm or let cool completely.