Oh my goodness. This dessert is heaven on a plate. Or in a bowl. Although I have a whole lot of favourite desserts this would have to be somewhere up the very, very top. This gorgeous pudding is soft and cake-like, dripping in a syrupy, rich caramel sauce. I don't particularly like dates raw, but there is something about using them to concoct sticky date desserts that turns them into some magical, delicious 'secret ingredient'. They just work so well! The smells wafting around your house when making this dessert are absolutely to die-for, and virtually no-one will be able to resist a warm slice, fresh out of the oven, with a huge scoop of just-melting vanilla ice cream and an extra serve of caramel sauce dribbling down the side. If you're not already in the kitchen, what are you doing? Get baking right now!! :D
Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce
250g pitted dates, chopped
1 tsp bicarb (baking) soda
325mls boiling water
125g butter, softened
250g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
315g self-raising flour, sifted
300mls thickened cream
250g brown sugar
60g butter, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)Grease well and line the base of a 23 cm (9 inch), 7 cm (3 inch) deep cake tin.
Place dates and bicarb soda into a heatproof bowl. Add boiling water and stir until the baking soda is mixed through and dissolved. Set aside for 15-20 minutes.
With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Add the eggs in separate additions, beating well after each. Fold through the date mixture and flour until well combined, and no dry pockets or ‘clumps’ of flour are left.
Transfer mixture into cake tin. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer or wooden toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean (Note: depending on your oven, you may have to leave it in even longer - but definitely make sure a skewer inserted in the centre comes out without any uncooked mix on it. And I definitely recommend baking only one pudding at a time if you're making more than one. I learnt this the hard way...oops!). Let stand in pan for about 5 minutes, then turn out onto a plate.
To make the caramel sauce: combine sugar, cream, vanilla and butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it comes to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes.
To serve, pierce the pudding all over with a skewer. Pour some of the sauce over the warm pudding, then allow it to stand for about 5-10 minutes (to allow the pudding to soak up the caramel goodness!). Cut into wedges as desired, and serve with remaining sauce and vanilla ice-cream.