Dinner Party Sticky Toffee

Sticky toffee-1

For some unknown reason I had never tried to make this at home before. It’s undoubtedly my favourite gastro pub dessert as it is both extremely comforting and indulgent. So when I was planning the menu for a small Halloween dinner party I decided to give it a go. I knew that if I got it right it could be the perfect end to supper on a spooky night!

The recipe I used came from Pippa Middleton’s book, Celebrate, which my husband bought me for my birthday. I had picked it up before in Waterstones but couldn’t bring myself to buy it, not because I have any reason to dislike her – except for sheer jealousy at her wardrobe, handbag collection, all year-round tan and enviable social life – but because I thought it be a no expenses spared approach to throwing parties with apparent effortless glamour, and faking domestic bliss at every corner.

So, I was pleasantly surprised by the content as many of the recipes are simple, practical family feeds, and it is actually quite sensitive with regards to cost. The craft ideas are quite manageable, given some time, but it also has lots of imaginative games and activities for children, and the photography is stunning. I don’t think there is a single person on God’s earth, including Pippa, who could actually celebrate the entire year in this style, but it’s the sort of book you can keep on your bookshelf for reference when a particular event you are hosting crops up.

For example, her children’s party section is ridiculously practical and detailed, down to reminding you to keep pen and paper handy for present opening, so you know whom to thank! I know she got quite a lot of bad press for comments like this, which might be seen as rather patronizing, but really good party planners do pay attention to every last detail. I got myself in a complete muddle during present opening last year after my daughter’s party and I know I’m not the only one, as I’ve had to help other Mums match presents to people by guesswork and process of elimination! So sometimes the obvious is worth a mention if it makes you actually do it. The Order of the day for the children’s party ends with the following points: – wave goodbye, – settle your own kids in front of a film, – have a glass of wine. Ok, so maybe we don’t need to be told to wave goodbye, but you’d be surprised in the madness of handing out balloons and party bags how easy it is to forget. However, I do think the modern Mum trying hard to do it all and be it all needs to be set free from her guilt at times. What it means is this: “You did it, you had the party and yes, you can put on a DVD and drink a glass of wine, GUILT FREE, in the knowledge that even the greatest party planners would do the same.” This isn’t patronizing, it’s re-assuring!

The sticky toffee was quite easy to make if you follow the recipe to the letter and the children loved it. It’s perhaps a little less unhealthy if you replace the toffee sauce with a good quality custard and cut it into small-ish cubes. I have discovered that my children can be shamelessly bribed to eat almost anything if sticky toffee pudding is on the menu for dessert, so I have since made it several times and frozen it too. For Halloween, we also followed Pippa’s fun place setting tip, to use scrabble pieces. It was the perfect job for my 4 year old who is currently busy learning her phonics and we gave the dinner party guests a challenge to choose the person with whom they could make the longest sensible word!

A similar recipe can be found here:
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3682/ultimate-sticky-toffee-pudding
However, Pippa’s version is simpler!

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