A long time ago as far as contest timelines are concerned, I entered a national search to come up with the next great Häagen-Dazs ice cream flavor. I entered on a whim and submitted my flavor pitch with a short video, shot and edited by my filmmaker husband, and sort of forgot about it for the next few months. That was until I found out that I was one of five finalists. To make a long story short, after two New York City tapings, a trip to plant headquarters in Bakersfield, California, two elimination rounds, two trips to San Francisco, and lots and lots of ice cream later, my flavor submission—Sticky Toffee Pudding—won! I had noticed a recent upsurge in popularity of this old-fashioned British dessert on menus across the country and thought it would make for a tasty ice cream compatible with the Häagen-Dazs brand image of classic and authentic flavors but would also be interesting enough to stand out in the competitive world of ice cream freezer real estate. The saga was documented as a two hour special that aired on Food Network this past July (my winning moment is captured above with Scoop! host Jim O'Connor). It was a fun ride. Even better, though, I recently found out that due to its exceeding popularity, what was to be only a limited-edition flavor will become a permanent member of Häagen-Dazs' line. I guess the idea stuck.
Sticky Toffee Pudding Ice Cream Editor-in-Chief Judiaann Woo, PastryScoop.com, International Culinary Center, New York City
For 2 qts. (requires advance preparation)
Sticky toffee pudding:
unsalted butter (for preparing pan)
all-purpose flour (for preparing pan)
2 cups water
30 pitted dates, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsps. baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbsps. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 lg. eggs, at room temperature
Heat oven to 375°F.
Butter, flour, and line 8" square baking pan with parchment paper.
Bring water and dates to a boil (A); reduce heat to medium; simmer 5 minutes; remove from heat; whisk in baking soda (mixture will foam) (B); let mixture stand at least 20 minutes; puree with an immersion blender.
Sift together flour, baking powder, ginger, and salt.
Place butter and sugar in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
With the motor running, add eggs, one at a time; beat until combined.
With the motor running, add dry ingredients in three additions, scraping sides down occasionally; add date mixture; mix until combined.
Place in prepared pan; bake until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan (about 40 to 50 minutes); remove from oven; cool to room temperature before removing from the pan; wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.
Remove plastic wrap; cut cake into 1/2" cubes (C); place in airtight container; reserve.
Vanilla ice cream base:
6 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
4 oz. trimoline
1 lb. granulated sugar
24 lg. egg yolks
Bring milk, cream, vanilla beans, trimoline, and 1/2 lb. sugar to a simmer in heavy pot set over medium heat.
Place egg yolks and remaining 1/2 lb. sugar in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment; whisk until combined.
With the motor running, gradually add some of the hot milk mixture to temper the eggs; add tempered mixture to remaining milk mixture; set over low heat, stirring constantly until custard coats the back of a spoon; strain into bain-marie set in ice water bath; chill to 40°F; reserve in refrigerator.
14 Tbsps. unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. sea salt
Melt butter in heavy saucepan set over medium heat; add sugar; increase heat to medium-high; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Stir in cream and vanilla (D); reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly (about 5 minutes); stir in salt; remove from heat; cool to room temperature; place in squeeze bottle; reserve in refrigerator.
Place ice cream base in ice cream machine; process according to manufacturer's instructions; place in chilled metal container.
While still at soft-serve consistency, make a layer of ice cream in another chilled metal container; top with sticky toffee pudding cubes; squeeze toffee sauce onto ice cream between the cubes (E); top with another layer of ice cream, smoothing surface with small offset spatula (F).
Repeat process several times, making sure to end with ice cream; wrap container in plastic wrap; freeze at least 4 hours.