The big, bold flavors of Africa are a source of culinary inspiration. Spices are the essence of African cuisine, and African spice blends are an exciting way to bring flavor to any dish.

Ras el hanout is a North African spice blend that commonly includes cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric. It’s used in many savory dishes, sometimes rubbed on meat or fish, or stirred into couscous or rice.

The warmth of ras el hanout also blends well in some sweet dishes, like this one below we created in the FDR kitchen.

The flavor of dates and spices and a hint of orange make Ras el Hanout Sticky Toffee Pudding with Orange Toffee Sauce an alluring autumn or winter dessert.

ras el hanout sticky toffee pudding

Ras el Hanout Sticky Toffee Pudding with Orange Toffee Sauce Recipe

30 min Prep Time
1 hr, 5 Cook Time
1 hr, 35 Total Time


For the Cake

  • 14 ounces dried dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 1/4 cups flour, all-purpose or white whole wheat
  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Toffee Sauce

  • 2 1/4 brown sugar
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • zest of half an orange
  • 1/4 teaspoon ras el hanout
  • pinch of salt


Make the Cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with baking spray.
  2. Combine the chopped dates and the water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer and stir in baking powder. (Mixture will foam up.)
  3. Combine flour, spice, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Beat butter until fluffy
  5. Add sugar and beat until smooth.
  6. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, stirring down sides of bowl as necessary.
  7. Add one-third of the flour and mix on low until mostly combined.
  8. Add half of date mixture.
  9. Repeat until all of flour mixture and date mixture are combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula to incorporate.
  10. Pour into prepared pan and bake until top springs back when pressed lightly, about 40-50 minutes.
  11. Let cool.

Make the Sauce:

  1. In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, half-and-half, molasses, zest, spice, and salt and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 4 minutes.
  2. Turn off the heat and pour most of the sauce on top of the cake. Reserve some for serving.
  3. Bake until the sauce is bubbling, about 10 minutes.
  4. Let cool slightly, cut into squares, and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

For even more on global flavor trends showing up in the USA, visit FDR Food & Beverage Trends.

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