Kid-friendly Sticky Icky Toffee Date Muffins + Quick Salted Caramel + Ooey Gooey Date Shakes Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Sticky Toffee Date Muffins + Quick Salted Caramel + Ooey Gooey Date Shakes

Family Meal Plan: Sticky Icky Toffee Date Muffins + Quick Salted Caramel + Ooey Gooey Date Shakes

Sticky Toffee Date Muffins + Quick Salted Caramel + Ooey Gooey Date Shakes

by Erin Fletter
Photo by MShev/Shutterstock.com
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
26 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Sticky Toffee Date Muffins + Quick Salted Caramel

Date Muffins and Date Shakes!

The secret sweetness in the Sticky Icky Toffee Date Muffin recipe is healthy dates baked into a dense muffin that's drizzled with a quick caramel salted toffee—special enough to serve guests and easy enough to have after a weeknight dinner. Date shakes are a tasty culinary creation, commonly made in the date-growing region, near Palm Springs, in southern California. These shakes may sound strange, but they're fabulous!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief
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Shopping List

  • FRESH
  • 1 lemon (or 1 T lemon juice)
  • 4 bananas to freeze (or 4 bananas + 1 C ice)
  • DAIRY AND EGGS
  • 15 T (2 sticks) butter **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 C milk, divided **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 eggs **(see allergy subs below)**
  • PANTRY
  • 8 oz pitted dates (about 10 to 12 dates)
  • 3/4 C raisins
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1/4 C honey/agave nectar
  • sea salt flakes, optional
  • HAVE ON HAND
  • 1 3/4 C water
  • 1 C ice

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend :

    to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.

  • purée :

    to blend, grind, or mash food until it is thick, smooth, and closer to a liquid.

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

  • wet vs dry :

    to mix wet and dry ingredients separately before combining them: dry ingredients are flours, leavening agents, salt, and spices; wet ingredients are those that dissolve or can be dissolved (sugar, eggs, butter, oils, honey, vanilla, milk, and juices).

Equipment Checklist

  • Oven
  • Muffin pan
  • Paper cupcake liners
  • Small saucepan
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Citrus juicer (optional)
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Electric handheld mixer (or immersion blender)
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Toothpicks
  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
  • Small bowl
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Ingredients

Sticky Toffee Date Muffins + Quick Salted Caramel

  • Muffins:
  • 8 oz pitted dates (about 8 to 10)
  • 1/2 C raisins
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 14 T (1 3/4 sticks) butter **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance)**
  • 3/4 C packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1/2 C mashed, ripe banana)**
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor—check label)**
  • Caramel:
  • 1/4 C honey/agave nectar
  • 1/4 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 T butter **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance)**
  • sea salt flakes, optional

Ooey Gooey Date Shakes

  • 2 to 4 T raisins
  • 2 to 4 pitted dates
  • hot water, to soak dried fruit
  • 2 C milk, divided **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
  • 4 frozen bananas (or 4 bananas + 1 C ice)
  • 1 C ice
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor—check label)**
  • 1 pinch pumpkin pie spice

Food Allergen Substitutions

Sticky Toffee Date Muffins + Quick Salted Caramel

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour. Use gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor. 
  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance, in Muffins and Caramel.
  • Egg: For 2 eggs, substitute 1/2 C mashed, ripe banana.

Ooey Gooey Date Shakes

  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk.
  • Gluten/Wheat: Use gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor. 

Instructions

Sticky Toffee Date Muffins + Quick Salted Caramel

1.
muffins: chop + squeeze + simmer

Have your kids chop up 8 ounces of pitted dates (about 8 to 10) and 1/2 cup raisins. Add the dates and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to a small saucepan with 3/4 cup of water and heat to a boil on your stovetop. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the chopped dates soften and start to fall apart, about 3 to 6 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of raisins to the saucepan, remove from heat, and set aside to cool completely.

2.
preheat + measure + stir

While the date mixture cools, preheat your oven to 325 F. Then, measure and stir together your dry ingredients into a medium bowl: 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking soda.

3.
combine + cream

Measure and add 14 tablespoons of butterand 3/4 cup brown sugar to a large bowl and cream together with a hand mixer or immersion blender until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.

4.
crack + purée + whisk

Crack 2 eggs into the butter mixture, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Next, measure and mix in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract along with the cooled date mixture and purée until smooth. Finally, whisk in your flour mixture (dry ingredients) until combined.

5.
fill + bake

Fill a lined muffin pan with batter and bake for 15 to 20 or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs stuck to it.

6.
caramel: combine + simmer + spoon

Meanwhile, make the Quick Salted Caramel (sticky toffee). In a small saucepan on your stovetop, combine 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar dissolves and bubbles, remove from heat and swirl in 1 tablespoon of butter. When the muffins are finished baking, spoon the sticky toffee over each muffin and sprinkle with flakes of sea salt, if desired. Serve with Ooey Gooey Date Shakes (see recipe)!

Ooey Gooey Date Shakes

1.
soak + purée

Soak 2 to 4 tablespoons of raisins and 2 to 4 pitted dates in hot water in a small bowl for at least 5 minutes and up to an hour before preparing the shakes. Using a blender (or pitcher + immersion blender), purée the soaked dates and raisins in 1/4 cup of milk until smooth.

2.
add + blend

Add 1 3/4 cups milk, 4 frozen bananas, 1 cup ice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 pinch of pumpkin pie spice and blend until well mixed. The goal is to achieve a smooth and thick texture with minimal chunks of fruit.

Surprise Ingredient: Dates!

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Photo by Rahou Maachou

Hi! I'm a Date!

"You wouldn't know from looking at me, but I'm a deliciously sweet fruit! We dates don't have much water in us, so we are naturally dehydrated, and we have lots of fructose—that's a sugar found in fruit. We're better than candy because we're a tasty and healthy source of fiber and energy!"

History & Etymology

  • Dates are the fruit of the date palm, a flowering plant in the palm family. 
  • It is uncertain where dates originated, but they may have initially started growing in the Middle East or the Persian Gulf. They are considered one of the oldest crops and have been grown in areas of North Africa and the Middle East for around 5,000 years.  
  • Fossil records indicate that the date palm has been around for possibly 50 million years. Archaeological evidence for dates goes back to about 7000 BCE in the Middle East.
  • Because the date palm tree and its fruit have so many uses—from food to building materials—the date palm is known as the "tree of life" in the Middle East, and it is the national tree of Saudi Arabia. It is also an important symbol in Jewish and Muslim religions.
  • Spaniards had introduced date palm trees to the United States by 1769, where they grew at the Franciscan Mission San Diego de Alcalá in San Diego, California.
  • The trees are used for shade in the desert; their leaves are used to make baskets, carpets, and trays; the trunks are used as a frame for tents and for making furniture; and the fiber is suitable for ropes, fish traps, brushes, and filling mattresses and pillows.
  • The word "date" comes from the Greek word "daktylos," meaning "finger," due to its shape.

Anatomy

  • Date palm trees can grow up to 100 feet tall. They grow slowly and can reach 100 years of age. Their fronds or leaves are 13 to 20 feet long, and they have spines along their stalks.
  • Dates, the fruit of the date palm, grow in clumps near the top of the tree, just below the fronds. The fruit can be oval or cylindrical in shape, one inch in diameter, and one to three inches long. Depending on the variety of dates, their color may be yellow, amber, red, or dark brown.

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Choose dates that are plump, shiny, and not too wrinkled or hard. They should have a delicate fragrance rather than a pungent smell.
  • When dates are dried, they become very sweet. The low water and high sugar content give dates a long shelf life of many months to years! People have taken them for long boat trips, crossing deserts, and even living in fortresses as survival food throughout history.
  • You can eat dates whole or chop them up and add them to cakes, muffins, smoothies, shakes, cereals, or salads. For an appetizer, you can stuff dates with soft cheese, honey, and chopped nuts, wrap them with a thin slice of bacon or prosciutto, and then bake them for about 15 minutes. 

Nutrition

  • Dates are full of potassium and fiber. One cup of dates has 27 percent of the recommended daily potassium requirement and 48 percent of the daily fiber. 
  • Dates also contain vitamin A and several B vitamins. In addition, their high fructose content makes them a great natural source of energy.

History of the Date Cake & Date Shake!

Photo by Robyn Mackenzie/Shutterstock.com
  • Date cake or sticky toffee pudding is a British dessert made with a moist sponge cake and finely chopped dates, covered in toffee sauce and vanilla custard or ice cream. 
  • The genesis of sticky toffee pudding is disputed. Still, some people attest to one early recipe created by Francis Coulson and Robert Lee at the Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel in Cumbria, England, in the 1970s. However, there are stories that two other people shared the recipe with them, so we may never know the dessert's true origins.
  • The date shake may have been invented by Russell Nicoll in 1928. He and his family also opened a date shack near Thermal, California. A date shake consists of chopped dates blended with milk and vanilla ice cream. Today, several places in California's Coachella Valley sell date shakes. It is the unofficial drink of the valley and the city of Palm Springs. 
  • Annually, in February, the town of Indio, California, hosts the annual National Date Festival with an Arabian Nights theme. The festival's specialty is the date shake.

Let's learn about England!

Photo by Tomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock.com
  • England is ruled by a Monarch, a Prime Minister, and a Parliament. Windsor Castle is the oldest royal castle in the world that is still being used by the royal family.
  • England is on the island of Great Britain, along with Wales and Scotland. It is also part of the United Kingdom, which consists of those three countries and Northern Ireland. 
  • Did you know that there's no place in the UK that is more than 70 miles from the sea?! 
  • Stonehenge is a construction of immense stones that the early inhabitants of what's now Wiltshire, England, began building around 3100 BCE. The final sections were completed around 1600 BCE. Scientists are still not sure how or why they built it. One theory for its purpose is an astronomical observatory. It is very popular with tourists.
  • Other popular tourist spots in England include the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Parliament (Palace of Westminster), the Roman Baths and the city of Bath, and the Lake District.  
  • London, the capital city, wasn't always called that. In the past, its name was Londonium.
  • England took part in the briefest war in history. They fought Zanzibar in 1896, and Zanzibar surrendered after just 38 minutes!
  • There have been several influential English authors, but perhaps the most well-known is William Shakespeare, who wrote classics such as Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet.
  • English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee is credited with inventing the World Wide Web.
  • The British really like their sandwiches—they eat almost 11.5 billion a year!

What's It Like to Be a Kid in England?

  • Most schools in England require students to wear a school uniform. 
  • Sports kids play include football (soccer), cricket, rugby, tennis, netball (similar to basketball), and rounders (similar to baseball). They also play video games, watch the telly, and ride bikes or skateboards.
  • Boxing Day is a unique holiday kids celebrate in England the day after Christmas, December 26. The official public holiday is the first weekday after Christmas if Boxing Day falls on a weekend. When the English created the holiday, it was the day to share the contents of alms boxes with the poor. Today, it is mostly a day off from school and work, although some small gifts may be given out to family and employees, or collected to give to the poor.
  • English kids may have different names for everyday items also found in the United States. For example, a kid will call his mom "mum." Their backyard is a "garden." A big truck is called a "lorry," and the trunk of a car is a "boot." Biscuits in the US are closest to the British "scones," and cookies in England are "biscuits." A TV is usually called a "telly." Bags of chips are referred to as bags of "crisps." French fries, like those from a fast-food hamburger place, might be called "fries," but if they are thicker, like the ones typically served with batter-fried fish, they're called "chips" (fish and chips). Finally, kids call the fish sticks they might have for lunch "fish fingers.

That's Berry Funny

What do you call a heroic fruit of the round table? 

Date Knight.

That's Berry Funny

What fruit can't see? 

A blind date!

That's Berry Funny

What do you call an old, stale date? 

An expiration date!

That's Berry Funny

Why did the fig take the raisin out to the movies? 

She couldn’t find a date!

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