We don’t eat a lot of dessert at our house. It’s not a health thing, and it’s certainly not through lack of a sweet tooth. It’s just that, as a general rule, we tend to only have desserts on special occasions. So last week, when I asked Lach what he wanted for his birthday dinner, I was surprised when he asked for sticky date pudding for dessert (he wanted gnocchi carbonara for his main). Cheeky lad that he is, he told me to make sure I didn’t put too much bicarb soda in – giving me a not too subtle reminder of one of my cooking mishaps on MasterChef (where I had the chance to cook for immunity by making the best sticky date pudding, only to be let down by putting 1 tablespoon rather than 1 teaspoon of bicarb in). It’s tough when you get sledged in the kitchen by your own son!

So here is my sticky date pudding recipe. The key to a really good sticky pudding is to make the caramel sauce while the pudding is cooking, then pour some over the top when it is about two thirds cooked. This allows the pudding to soak up the sauce, and makes for a dense and delicious dessert! Although this is really more of a winter dessert, I think you can enjoy it at all times of the year, but remember, only on special occasions.

Serves 6

Sticky Date Pudding

1 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped

1 ¼ cups water

1 teas bicarbonate of soda

60g butter

1/3 cup caster sugar

1 teas vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 ½ cups plain flour

 

Caramel Sauce

1 cup soft brown sugar

1 cup thickened cream, 35%

90g butter

½ teas vanilla extract

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Lightly grease six 120ml ramekins, or alternatively use a large pudding dish (about 20cm diameter).
  3. Combine the dates and water in a large saucepan, and bring to the boil.
  4.  Remove from the heat, add the bicarbonate of soda and stir (this will froth up a bit, that’s why you need the larger saucepan), and let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy, about 6-8 minutes.
  6. Reduce the speed, and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly.
  7. Remove from the stand mixer, and using a large spoon, stir in the date mixture, then fold in the flour.
  8. Spoon mixture into the ramekins (or pudding dish), and place in the oven. The ramekins will need about 15 minutes, and the single large pudding will need about 25-30 minutes to cook.
  9. While the pudding is cooking, make the caramel sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, and stir over low heat until combined. Increase the heat, and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  10. After about 10 minutes of the pudding cooking in the ramekins (or about 20 minutes for the single large pudding), remove from the oven and pour about one third of the caramel sauce on the top of the puddings – you may need to push down the tops in the ramekins a little.
  11. Put them back into the oven to continue cooking for the remainder of the time - about 5 minutes for the ramekins, and 10 minutes for the single large pudding.
  12. est with a skewer to make sure they are cooked.
  13. Serve with the caramel sauce, and some ice-cream, whipped cream or vanilla custard (or all three!!).