Made a Date

Sticky, plump, rich and decadent, Californian organic Medjool dates are a must for your festive shopping trolley

For the best dates, you need the best growing conditions, and the Coachella Valley in sunny California has this in spades. Its unique microclimate, incredibly fertile desert soil, and plentiful water piped in from the Colorado River, unite to produce some of the finest dates in the world. One of the oldest cultivated fruits, dates have been prized by ancient and modern civilisations for centuries, and more recently have been winning fans for their health-giving properties – they contain potassium, dietary fibre, iron and antioxidants and, despite a relatively high sugar content, have a low glycaemic load, unlike refined sugars. Whether you plan to enjoy them whole as a fruity snack, stuff them with savoury fillings to serve to guests as canapés, or use them to bring a natural sweetness and hint of fudginess to festive cakes and bakes, they are a modern Christmas must-have.
 
 
To download a free copy of the California Medjool Date e-cookbook, visit http://bit.ly/medjoolcookbook
 
 
Sticky toffee pudding
SERVES 8  V  Hands-on time 30 mins  Total time 1 hour plus soaking
 
Sunflower oil, for greasing
175g unsalted butter, softened
100g light brown muscovado sugar
6 Californian organic Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp black treacle
175g self-raising flour
 sp bicarbonate of soda
 sp baking powder
 sp fine sea salt
For the date paste
10 Californian organic Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (you’ll need 150g)
Pinch flaky sea salt
squeeze of lemon juice
For the butterscotch sauce
30g unsalted butter
150g light brown muscovado sugar
200ml double cream
 
To make the date paste, put the dates in a heatproof bowl, pour over 300ml just-boiled water, then set aside for
30 minutes. Transfer the dates and
the soaking liquid to a blender, add the salt and lemon juice then blitz
until smooth. Reserve 2 tbsp for the butterscotch sauce, and store the remainder in an airtight container
in the fridge for up to 1 week.
2  Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Lightly grease 8 x 175ml pudding moulds with the oil and line the
bases with baking paper. Transfer
to a roasting tin and set aside.
3  In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the dates, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract and treacle. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Fold the dry mixture into the wet, then divide evenly between the prepared moulds.
4  Carefully pour just-boiled water from the kettle into the roasting tin, until
it reaches halfway up the sides of the moulds. Cover the roasting tin with a large, pleated sheet of kitchen foil, making sure it’s tightly sealed to prevent steam escaping. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
5  To make the butterscotch sauce, put the butter, 2 tbsp of the date paste, the sugar and a pinch of salt in a pan and set over a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in
the double cream until smooth.
6  Remove the roasting tin from the oven and discard the foil. Let the puddings cool for a few minutes, then gently loosen them with the tip of a small knife. Turn the puddings out onto plates, removing and discarding
the baking paper. Pour over the butterscotch sauce to serve.
 
 
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