Today is June 21st, our Winter Solstice; and what better way to celebrate the shortest day and longest night with a deliciously tasty hot winter pudding smothered in a creamy caramel sauce. And of course a dollop of freshly whipped cream never goes amiss.
The combination is very more-ish as we discovered over dinner with friends the other night. It’s always a great compliment when someone who doesn’t ordinarily eat dessert, has a second helping. If feeling very indulgent, you might want to use a 6-hole Texan muffin pan, but I preferred to make them a little smaller, using a standard 12-hole muffin/cup-cake tin. No linings please, just a light spray of oil around each cup/hole or you can wipe with butter – the good old fashioned way, but take care to cover everywhere as you don’t want to be fighting with the tin to get a hold of your pudding!
The dates are gently simmered in water for a few minutes, but instead of adding them whole, I blitzed them after simmering to make more of a puree with the softened dates and residual water. If you prefer bigger pieces of dates, either add them whole or cut them into smaller chunks before adding to the pot.
This caramel sauce and I have become firm friends. It took under 10 minutes to make and was heavenly poured hot over the oven-warm puddings. On their own, the two pair perfectly, but a dollop of the freshly whipped cream adds a third dimension of velvety smooth texture and coolness to the warm pudding and hot sauce.
2 cups dates
1 cup water
1 tsp baking soda
120 g butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
¼ tsp salt
1½ cups self-raising flour
3/4 cup each: cream, brown sugar
150 g butter
½ tsp vanilla essence
lightly whipped cream, runny cream or custard
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. Spray a 12-hole muffin pan with spray oil (or to make larger one, use a 6-hole Texan muffin pan instead).
- Place the dates and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 4 minutes, or until there is about 1 tablespoon of water left.
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool for about 2 minutes. Add the baking soda to the dates and stir until combined.
- In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla essence and add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Beat in the salt.
- Sieve the flour directly into the bowl and fold in with the date mixture. Spoon the batter into the muffin pans until they are half to three-quarters full.
- Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of one of the puddings comes out clean.
To make the caramel sauce:
- Place the cream, sugar, butter and vanilla essence into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Serve the puddings with the whipped cream and caramel sauce, or don’t whip the cream and simply pour over the puddings. Custard is also a tasty addition.