Date Puddings with Sesame Ice-Cream and Salted Caramel

Ingredients

  • 450 ml milk
  • 375 gm pitted dates coarsely chopped
  • Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 120 gm softened butter
  • 220 gm (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 3 eggs 225 gm
  • 1½ cups self-raising flour, sieved
  • Pinch each of ground allspice and ground cinnamon

Sesame ice-cream

  • 80 gm sesame seeds
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 3 tsp tahini
  • 250 ml (1 cup) pouring cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 120 gm caster sugar

Salted caramel

  • 275 gm caster sugar
  • 180 ml pouring cream
  • 50 gm unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

Method

Step 1 For sesame ice-cream, preheat oven to 170C. Spread sesame seeds on an oven tray and roast, stirring occasionally, until light golden (3-5 minutes). Transfer to a saucepan (reserve 1 tsp for serving), add milk and tahini, stir to combine and bring to the boil. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate to infuse (2 hours). Strain through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan, add cream and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, whisk yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl until pale. Add cream mixture and stir to combine, then return to pan and stir continuously over low heat until mixture coats a wooden spoon thickly (5-10 minutes). Transfer to a chilled bowl placed over ice and stir occasionally until cool, then freeze in an ice-cream machine. Freeze until required. Makes about 1 litre.

Step 2  For salted caramel, combine sugar and 100ml water in a saucepan, bring to the boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, then brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush and cook until dark caramel (10-15 minutes). Add cream, butter and a tsp fine sea salt (be careful as hot caramel will spit), stir until dissolved (1 minute) and set aside.

Step 3  Combine milk, dates and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to the boil, remove from heat, add bicarbonate of soda and set aside to cool (1 hour).

Step 4  Preheat oven to 175C. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until smooth, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour, spices and date mixture and mix to just combine. Divide among 6 buttered and floured 9cm-diameter cake tins, tap tins on bench to level, then bake on a tray, turning tray occasionally, until cakes are golden and spring back when touched (30-40 minutes). Cool slightly, then turn out onto plates or serve warm in tins, with a scoop of sesame ice-cream topped with salted caramel (see note) and scattered with reserved sesame seeds.

Notes:  If salted caramel has cooled and become too thick, reheat it to drizzling consistency over low heat.

Source:  This recipe is from the May 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.  Recipe by Lisa Featherby, Photography by Chris Court, Styling by Lisa Featherby.