Winter is undoubtedly upon us (yes, I know it's officially still autumn but try telling my chilled fingers and winter appetite that) and the dinner menu one particular night reads like the perfect traditional winter comfort food: roast leg of lamb served with a balsamic reduction and steamed vegies and sticky date pudding for dessert. Reads well - well, almost.
That is before I've read the recipe for the accompanying - and let's be honest, it's what really makes it - caramel sauce. It's like someone has a personal vendetta against the healthy food pyramid. Cream, butter and sugar - in generous quantities too. No wonder warm caramel sauce is so pleasure-inducing - it's evil.
I started on the cake, leaving the minature people on my shoulders a chance to fairly debate the "need" for caramel sauce with the pudding. We start with, coincidentally enough, butter, sugar and vanilla. I also cut down on the suggested one cup of sugar - the dates are plenty sweet enough even without caramel.
I'm being lazy again and not using the electric beaters and giving my right arm and the wooden spoon a good workout. Beating in the first egg is simple enough; the second doesn't seem to want to cooperate and leaves the mixture a little separated, resembling risotto. It doesn't make that much of a difference once the soaked and chopped dates, accompanying water and flour are added. The mixture seems very watery but perhaps that's the difference between a pudding and a cake.
The quick taste test proves my sugar omission to be wise. There's a maple or honey-like sweetness, which must come from the dates, that's quite pleasing to the palate. And since I haven't the patience to bake for 40 minutes or so, it's the muffin tin and liners too. Pre-portioning, to stop me from having too much, I think optimistically.
They bake and mingle yummy aromas with the cooking leg of lamb, and when they're ready they've taken on a rich golden brown colour from the dates. They're really light and airy inside, and thankfully not overly sweet with the chopped dates adding natural sugar hits in every bite.
P.S. I eventually succumbed to the power of the caramel sauce. Yep, went out and bought thickened cream and created the evil sauce of innumerable kilojoules and endless pleasure.