To start the cakes, or puddings, you chop the dates and remove the pits as you go. They were then covered with boiling water, and vanilla, instant espresso powder, and baking soda were added. Eight ramekins were buttered and the oven was preheated. In a stand mixer, softened butter and granulated sugar were creamed, and eggs were added. Flour and baking powder were sifted together and slowly added to the egg mixture while mixing. Last, the date mixture was folded into the batter, the batter was divided among the ramekins, and the puddings baked for 20 minutes. The cooled puddings were removed from the ramekins and stored on parchment in an airtight container. They can be made in advance and refrigerated or even frozen. For the sauce, brown sugar, butter, salt, and cream were combined in a saucepan and brought to a simmer. Once the sugar was dissolved and the sauce thickened a bit, it was ready. This step could also be done in advance, and the sauce can be refrigerated and reheated just before serving. When it was time for dessert, the broiler was set to high. The puddings were placed on a baking sheet and topped with some of the sauce. The sheet pan was placed several inches under the broiler, and the puddings were warmed until the sauce was bubbly. The puddings were transferred to serving plates, topped with more sauce, and garnished with whipped cream and toasted walnuts.
Obviously, I was delighted with this dessert and could have eaten the sauce by itself with a spoon, but still, there seemed to be not quite enough sauce since I ended up making a second batch to serve with the leftover puddings the next day. This is no place to skimp on buttery, caramel sauce. And, I’m delighted to find out how wrong I was about making them. They’re easy enough to whip up again whenever I want.
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