Dark Choc Chip Sticky Date Pudding

StickyDate
Lately, I haven’t been cooking as much as I’d like to. True, I found time to bake, but actually cooking – as in, cooking a meal for dinner and having everyone sit around the table and eat – is something that just hasn’t made itself a priority. I suppose baking is easier – generally all the ingredients are already in the pantry and nothing needs to be bought fresh, and the final product can be kept for at least a few days and eaten at one’s leisure or shared amongst friends and relatives.
But this past Friday several weeks ago when I actually wrote this post, there was a little window of opportunity – I had the day off, everyone was going to be home and I’d invited a special someone over to hang out… so I thought, hey, let’s cook!
Now, a little random fact about me… when I cook dinner, I like to go all out. I’m talking 5 courses, expensive wine, candles, formal wear, a live orchestra performing in the background… okay, not really, but I do like to at least make some dessert afterwards to round off the meal nicely.
For the main course, I decided to whip up some gnocchi (not homemade, just from a packet, because I was feeling like a bit of a lazy bum that day, although I did once make homemade gnocchi which was quite nice) with a pesto sauce (which I’m proud to say was homemade and quite delicious!)
Of course, with Sneaky Pudding being a “blog of sweetness”, the star of the show (er, the post) is the Dark Choc Chip Sticky Date Pudding!
It’s sort of a combination of a couple of recipes I found online, plus my own little additions. Initially, I was going for this recipe on the Cadbury Kitchen website… the idea of adding dark choc chips to a sticky date pudding sounded absolutely delish! However, the recipe required a square cake pan (which I did not have) and for the pudding to be cooled completely before serving (meaning I’d have to make it earlier in the afternoon, which I didn’t have much time for) so I went for a search and found this recipe from taste.com.au which was in the format I was searching for.
This pudding is absolutely freaking amazing. I absolutely love dates, even though some people think they resemble cockroaches (I guess they do, in a way) … I call them “nature’s candy” because to me they seriously taste like caramel! The addition of the choc chips to the pudding gives it a nice twist, especially when served warm because they melt, and the walnuts add an occasional satisfying crunch. It’s also quite delicious when eaten cold the next evening (yes, I ate dessert two days in a row… shhh)

Dark Choc Chip Sticky Date Pudding

250g chopped, pitted dates
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 and 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup brown sugar
125g butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon rum essence
2 eggs
1 and 3/4 cups self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 cup walnuts
1/3 cup dark choc chips

SAUCE:
100g butter
1 cup brown sugar
250g spreadable cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Place chopped dates in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Stir in bicarbonate of soda. Leave for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line base and sides of a cake tin with baking paper. Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and rum essence together until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
Pour in the date mixture and sift in flour and spices. Add walnuts and choc chips. Stir the mixture until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let sit in tin for about 5 minutes before turning out (upside down) onto a place.
Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until sauce comes to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes.
Poke the surface of the pudding all over with a skewer, and pour half of the sauce mixture over the top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

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