Saturday, 26 January 2013

Sweet treats

It's no secret that my favourite dessert is Sticky Date Pudding. In fact, I display an abnormal compulsion to order it should it appear on a menu. It's perfection in all its juxtaposing facets: spongy in texture and dense in flavour. Who can go past its sickly sweetness and deep amber colour?

This recipe is slightly more versatile than one I have previously shared. It is baked as a cake and easily prepared in the food processor. You can serve large squares of this incredible pudding cake with warm caramel sauce and ice cream and stick to the traditional, or (as I have done today) cut it into "two-bite" sized bars with a smear of caramel for a light afternoon morsel. No one is going to accept a bowl of hot pudding and ice cream for afternoon tea but they'll be all over this is a jiffy.
The secret to getting neatly cut bars is to put the cake (once cooled) in the freezer for half an hour before cutting. This firms it up and takes off the stickiness that makes slicing difficult. Once out of the freezer, use a serrated-edge knife to portion the cake as you wish. These little bars suit me because you never feel quite as guilty stealing a second one! If you are serving in this way, also set aside your sauce for a couple of hours to cool (and thus, thicken sufficiently). This naughty sauce is a perfect one to have stashed in the fridge for topping ice cream, drizzling over cakes or shortbread (the sweetness cuts through a tart cheesecake remarkably well) or for attacking with a spoon when no one else is looking.

Sticky Date Cake
315g fresh dates
375mL boiling water
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarb)
150g unsalted butter, softened
175g brown sugar
3 eggs
225g SR flour, sifted

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C. Place dates, water and bicarb in the food processor with the cutting blade. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Pulse the processor 3-5 times to roughly chop the dates.  Change to the mixing blade before adding butter and sugar. Process until well combined.  Mix in eggs and flour until just incorporated. Pour mixture into a greased and lined 30cm square slice tin. Bake for 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in tin for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Sticky Caramel Sauce
150g unsalted butter, chopped
250mL single cream
265g brown sugar

Place all ingredients into a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to the boil, keep stirring and cook for 8 minutes.  Caramel will thicken as it cooks.  Serve hot for a thin sauce or at room temperature if you prefer it thick and gooey.

Don't you wish you were at my house for afternoon tea today?

F. x

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