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Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Almond Praline

There are many dishes that I have on my list of yummy things to make after watching the MasterChef Australia [1] 2009 series – and this was one of them. You may have already seen my first MasterChef challenge – the Crouquembouche [2], which I will be making again (not necessarily in a cone shape – perhaps just profiteroles filled with gorgeous custard, placed on baking paper and toffee poured over them, thereby reducing any injury due to placing fingers in hot toffee).

The judges absolutely loved the contestants’ sticky date puddings for this pressure test, with none of them being eliminated as they had all done so well. A friend at work had also made this dish – at least 3 times, so I figured it must be good.

I thought the dish was very lovely, although I think my expectations on taste had been lifted so high from the Crouquembouche that it didn’t live up to that recipe. The butterscotch sauce was easy and beautiful (I love butterscotch flavoured desserts) and the praline was quite nice too (although when I poured it over my almond slivers, it tended to push them away rather than flow over the top – not sure what I did wrong). The sticky date pudding itself was very tasty, even though I don’t normally like sticky date puddings out at restaurants.

Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Almond Praline
Recipe from MasterChef Australia 2009 [3]

Makes: 6-8

180g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
11/4 cups (310ml) water
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cup (165g) firmly packed brown sugar
60g butter, softened chopped
2 eggs
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour

Almond praline
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
1/4 cup (35g) slivered almonds

Butterscotch sauce
50g butter
1 cup (220g) brown sugar
1 cup (250ml) cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Lightly grease 8 (1/2 cup capacity) metal dariole moulds. (I used 6 ramekins)

Place dates and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Remove from the heat. Add
bicarbonate of soda, stir until dates start to break down, set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

Beat butter and sugar in a bowl using a hand beater, gradually add eggs one at a time, beat until light and fluffy.

Add date mixture, stir to combine. Carefully fold through sifted flour, divide mixture evenly between the eight moulds (I used 6 ramekins), until 2/3 full.

Place moulds in a baking tray, carefully pour water in tray until it comes up 1/3 of the side of the moulds. Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until golden and skewer comes out clean.

Meanwhile, for the almond praline, combine sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan over medium heat and cook caramel without stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden. Scatter almonds onto a baking paper-lined oven tray, pour over caramel and cool until set. Break praline into pieces.

For the butterscotch sauce, combine butter, sugar, cream and vanilla in small saucepan over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring sauce to the boil, reduce heat and cook for 5-6 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly.

To serve, invert the hot pudding onto a serving plate, top with butterscotch sauce and shards of praline.