Friday, 29 November 2013

Tipsy Chai Sticky Date Pudding

As a child living in Australia, I can't remember a Christmas where sickly Christmas pudding was an element of the day. That is a family tradition I'm happy to stand by (although admittedly this this brandied almond fruit cake is converting me to dried fruit). Instead, mum would often make an Australian speciality, Sticky Date Pudding.

Tipsy Chai Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

The stickiness in mum's recipe is created by pouring a brandy-saturated syrup over the almost-baked sponge and baking this for another five minutes. This makes the crust my favourite part; moist and flavoursome. But now in England, I can't resist the comforting sweetness of a generous drizzle of toffee sauce. Because we're alowwed to indulge at Christmas, instead of a compromise I include both the syrup and butterscotch sauce in this recipe (but have cut down on the amount of sugar in the sponge and syrup to compensate).

Butterscotch Sauce

While rustling through the cupboard, trying to come up with a seasonal twist on this dessert, I came across a packet of roughly ground chai-spices I bought in Udaipur back in 2010. I had heard of tea loaf/cake before, but perhaps a little ironically, had thought of something rather dry! However, sticky date pudding is already fed with moisture from the brandy syrup and butterscotch sauce, so I decided here to replace the water for soaking the dates with a strong cup of chai.

Butterscotch Sauce
I've made a number of toffee and butterscotch sauces, which all taste great on the day. However, depending on the recipe, some of the sauces split into buttery solids and liquids after refrigerating. I've found that the most stable sauces are formed from adding cream to a boiling sugar and butter mixture. As you can see, the sauce here firms up nicely into something you could happily spread onto cakes or eat by the spoonful. It becomes darker and runnier when reheated. Also, remember to salt it well. The little addition of salt makes the butterscotch moreish.

Butterscotch Sauce Brown Sugar
In the photo above, the toffee is at the 'boiled lava' stage and looks pretty dark, almost burnt. It's not! You can use either dark or light muscovado sugar or a mix of the two. Here I used dark brown sugar which gives it a darker than usual caramel tone. Having said that, make sure the sugar boils for only a minute or so. Overboiling turns the caramel into a hard toffee, which you can often salvage when beating in the cream, but it might take a bit more effort.

Tipsy Chai Sticky Date Pudding
You can use well buttered individual ramekins or a large baking dish for this. I'd also recommend serving the dessert with unsweetened cream, not custard or ice-cream as it's already sweet enough!

Looking for more Christmas recipes? My plum and spiced marzipan clafoutis brings a bit of summer to the festive season. Or impress the party with a chocolate orange bombe alaska with whisky-marmalade icecream and dark chocolate sauce. and as a tipple to wash it down, a fruity glass of passionfruit or cranberry and ginger sangria.

What are your family traditions for Christmas dinner? Is there a dish you'd like me to reinvent? Stuck with how to use up Christmas leftovers? Special diets you'll need cater for during the festive season? Let me know, I'm here to help!

Chai Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Tipsy Chai Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Serves 8


180g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
2tsp chai spice
1 tea bag
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g soft butter
100g brown sugar
2 eggs
180g self raising flour, sifted (or plain flour sifted with 1tsp baking powder)
100g walnuts halves, roughly chopped 


100g soft brown sugar
20g butter
1/3 cup (80ml) brandy


1 tbsp (20g) golden syrup
80g light/dark muscovado sugar
50g butter, cut into pieces
225ml double cream
1/2tsp vanilla essence (optional)

Extra cream to serve

1. Brew a large, strong cup of hot tea with the spices and tea bag. Place the dates in a bowl and mix in the bicarbonate of soda. Strain the cup of chai into the bowl, discard the whole spices. Allow this mixture to soften for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F/Gas mark 4). Grease a deep ovenproof dish (1.5 litre capacity) or 8 individual ramekins with butter or oil. 

2. Beat the softened butter and sugar with beaters until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder, walnuts and date mixture. Stir until just combined and pour into the prepared dish/ramekins. Bake for 35 minutes, or until slightly risen and firm to the touch. If the top is becoming too dark during the baking (although it shouldn't be), cover it with a sheet of baking paper.

3. While the pudding is cooking, place the syrup ingredients and 80ml water in a small pan, and simmer for 3 minutes. Prick small holes in the pudding using a fork or skewer, pour over the syrup. Return to oven for 5 minutes. 

Serve with butterscotch sauce and cream or natural yoghurt.

Butterscotch sauce (this can be made in advance and reheated): Melt butter; add brown sugar, golden syrup and salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Boil for at least a minute, until it looks like lava. In one go whisk in double cream and continue whisking, turn down the heat and cook for 10 mins, whisking occasionally. Stir in vanilla extract and serve.

Udaipur at sunrise
Udaipur, 'the Venice of the East' at sunrise. A beautifully green city set within the desert of Rajasthan, and the place I bought my chai!

Receive free, regular updates and recipe ideas by subscribing to this blog!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for linking it to my event ..
    That is a super moist pudding ...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...