Date With Destiny

Ramadan, the holiest of months in the Islamic calendar, has a strong affinity towards dates — those sweet, succulent gifts of Mother Nature and the Middle Eastern date palm.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
165g plain (all-purpose) flour
1tspn baking powder
180g dates, seeded and chopped
300ml boiling water
1tspn bicarbonate soda
50g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1tspn vanilla essence

Sticky toffee sauce:
100g unsalted butter
125ml heavy cream
170g light brown sugar
250ml heavy cream, whipped

• Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
• Chop the dates finely and place in a small bowl.
• Add boiling water and baking soda; set aside until cold.
• When cold drain excess water and mash the dates with a fork.
• Butter a square baking tray and line with greaseproof paper.
• Sift the flour and baking powder.
• With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
• Add the egg and vanilla, beating until blended.
• Gradually add flour mixture.
• Add the date mixture to the batter and fold with a rubber spatula until blended.
• Pour into prepared tray and bake until firm on top, for about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven to wire rack.
• Make the toffee sauce by combining all ingredients in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stirring consistently, heat the liquid until boiling. Boil gently until mixture thickens, for about six to seven minutes.
• Cut the cake into serving portions and serve with hot sticky toffee sauce poured over the top and accompany with whipped cream or ice cream.

Date, Chocolate and Pecan Cake
500g dates, seeded and finely chopped
1 tspn bicarbonate soda
500ml boiling water
150g unsalted butter
210g caster sugar
1 egg, large
300g plain (all-purpose) flour
1tspn bicarbonate soda
1/2 tspn salt
150g chocolate chips
100g pecans, chopped

• Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
• Put the chopped dates and first spoon of bicarbonate soda in a bowl. Stir in the boiling water and leave to cool completely.
• Drain excess water before using.
• In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together.
• Beat in the egg and combine completely.
• Sift together the flour, salt and second spoon of bicarbonate soda.
• Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mix alternately with the dates.
• Pour the mixture into a greased round baking tin approximately eight inches in diameter.
• Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips and pecan nuts.
• Bake for 40 to 55 minutes.
• Allow to cool completely before removing.

Date Cookies

200g date paste
180g unsalted butter
130g brown sugar
1 tspn vanilla
1 egg yolk
300g plain flour
1?2 tspns bicarbonate soda
raw sugar

• Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
• If the date paste is firm, warm it in the microwave so that it is of a spreadable consistency.
• In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the butter, brown sugar
and vanilla.
• Add the egg yolk, cooled date paste, sifted flour and bicarbonate soda. Mix until combined but do not overdo it.
• Roll small amounts into balls about the size of
a walnut.
• Roll the ball in raw sugar, then place on parch ment lined baking trays and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.
• Bake for 12 to 15 minutes and cool on the tray before serving.

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