Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Lightly grease a standard muffin tin, and line the bottoms with parchment rounds. Set aside.
In a medium or large bowl, add chopped dates and sprinkle with baking soda. Pour the hot coffee, whisky (see Chef’s Tips), and orange zest over the mixture. Let sit for 15 minutes or until slightly cooled.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder until well combined.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the Redpath® Demerara Style Sugar and butter until creamy and pale in colour; 3 to 5 minutes. Add in eggs 1 at a time, mixing until fully incorporated before adding the next. Add in the vanilla extract and salt, creaming until combined.
Using an immersion blender, process the cooled date mixture until almost completely smooth. Pour the date mixture into the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix until incorporated. Add in half of the dry ingredients. At low speed, mix flour mixture into the batter until just combined before adding the remaining dry ingredients and the candied ginger (see Chef’s Tips); do not overmix.
Evenly divide batter amongst the wells of the muffin tin, filling to the top of each well. Place into the preheated oven and bake until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean or when gently pressed, the tops spring back (see Chef’s Tips); 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 400°F (204°C).
With a pair of toothpicks or skewers, poke the surfaces of the mini cakes while the cakes are hot (at least 10 pokes all over each cake). Drizzle the entire surface of each cake with a tablespoon (15 ml) of the warm toffee sauce. Place tin back into the preheated oven, and heat just until the tops look glossy and sticky; 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and place pan onto the wire cooling rack to cool slightly; 10 minutes.
Using a small offset spatula, carefully go around each pudding to loosen them from the sides. Remove the cakes by gently tipping the tin on its side over a parchment-lined baking sheet.
While the cakes are baking, make the sauce. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine heavy cream, the Redpath® Demerara Style Sugar, butter, and salt. Place over medium heat until butter is melted, stir to ensure the brown sugar has completely melted, becomes homogeneous, and sauce begins to simmer.
Reduce heat to low and stir in the whisky and vanilla extract. Cover pan to keep warm.
Place a pudding onto a dish (if serving bottom side up, it may be necessary to slice off the rounded part of the cake to make it level) and spoon another tablespoon of the warm toffee sauce over the cake. Allow sauce to absorb into the cake.
If desired, sprinkle tops with flaky sea salt, add whipped cream (or ice cream), and garnish with candied ginger. Serve with more warm toffee sauce, if desired.
*Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature before proceeding with the recipe, except for the hot coffee.
*If whisky is unavailable, dark rum, brandy, or bourbon will also work well. If an alcohol-free version is desired, replace whisky with an equal amount of hot coffee or hot water, and increase the amount of vanilla extract by 1 teaspoon (1 tablespoon / 15 ml of extract in total in the pudding). For an alcohol-free version of the sauce, omit whisky and increase the amount of vanilla extract by 1 teaspoon (5 ml).
*Toss the chopped candied ginger in the remaining dry ingredients to prevent ginger pieces from clumping together before adding to the batter.
*It can be challenging to determine whether a sticky toffee pudding is baked through, due to the dates and high moisture content. If a thermometer is available, insert the tip of the thermometer into the centre of a pudding, being careful not to touch the bottom of the pan. If it reads 180°F (82°C), the puddings are done.
*Redpath® Demerara Style Sugar can be replaced with either Redpath® Dark Brown Sugar or Redpath® Golden Yellow Sugar. Note that the resulting product will be less complex in flavour and paler in colour.