These are a little different from the Medjool dates we've been used to - they are about half the size and are sold pitted and believe me when I say this, you need to fight every urge not to just gobble them up as they are. The are sweet and soft and chewy.
So what should I do with these dainty dates - make Sticky Date Puddings of course!
Rather than use my regular recipe I've decided to try a different method I recently spotted in February's issue of BBC Good Food magazine. It's by Gregg Wallace and what particularly got my attention is that it avoids the need of soaking the dates in bicarb and to be honest, I think the end result is far better. You could say the proof is in the pudding!
[Makes 6 small pudding]
75 grams dates, stoned, roughly chopped
75 grams butter, softened and cut into cubes
50 grams soft brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
140 grams self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
⅔ cup cream
75 grams soft brown sugar
25 grams butter
Prepare the dates:
Put the dates and water into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Let it come to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until the dates have softened and are started to collapse. Remove from the heat and stir to form a rough paste. Set this aside to cool before using.
Make the pudding:
Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat the eggs in, a little at a time being careful not to curdle the mixture. Sift the flour and baking powder together before adding it to the mixture - gently fold it through before adding the prepared dates. Give it a gentle stir to ensure it's been well incorporated.
Butter and flour 6 x ½cup souffle dishes - fill each mould about three-quarters full.
The original recipes calls for baking these in a foil covered bain-marie - which I did with my first lot. The puddings tasted nice but where a touch dry. The second time I steamed them and I found it resulted in a lighter and fluffier textured pudding and personally, I would recommend steaming the puddings for the best result.
For these sized puddings, you'll need to steam them for around 30 minutes. If you make larger puddings, naturally, it will take longer.
Due to the colouring effect of the date puree, even if you steam them, they do look like they have been baked.
Make the Sauce:
Put the butter and sugar along with ⅓ cup cream into a small saucepan and place over a medium heat. Stir constantly until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat so the mixture simmers and cook for few minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced slightly. Add the rest of the cream, stirring to incorporate - simmer for a minute and then remove from the heat. It should have look rich and glossy. The sauce can be made ahead of time and reheated when the puddings are ready to be served.
Unmould the puddings and generously spoon over with the toffee sauce.