For the pudding
225g whole medjool dates
175ml boiling water
1 vanilla pod
175g self-raising flour, plus extra for greasing
1 Tsp. bicarbonate of soda
85g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
140g demerara sugar
2 Tbsp. black treacle
For the toffee sauce
175g light muscovado sugar
50g butter, cut into pieces
225ml double cream
1 Tbsp. black treacle
Butter and flour seven mini pudding tins (each about 200ml/7fl oz) and sit them on a baking sheet. Heat oven to 180ËC/fan 160ËC/gas 4.
Prepare the dates by de-stoning them and chopping them into quite small pieces before putting them in a bowl. Pour over 175ml boiling water.
While the dates are soaking, make the puddings. Mix 175g self-raising flour and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda together and beat the 2 eggs in a separate bowl.
Beat 85g softened butter and 140g demerara sugar together in a large bowl for a few mins until slightly creamy (the mixture will be grainy from the sugar). Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well between additions.
Beat in 2 Tbsp. black treacle then, using a large metal spoon, gently fold in one-third of the flour and bicarbonate of soda mix, then half of the 100ml milk, being careful not to overbeat. Repeat until all the flour mix and all the milk is used.
By now the dates should have been soaking for about half an hour and will be cool and well-soaked. Roughly mash with a fork then add the seeds from the vanilla pod before mixing well to evenly distribute.
Stir the soaked dates into the pudding batter. The mix may look a little curdled at this point and will be like a soft, thick batter.
Spoon it evenly between the tins and bake for 20-25 mins, until risen and firm.
While the puddings are baking make the toffee sauce by mixing the muscovado sugar and butter in a medium saucepan with half the 225ml double cream.
Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring with a heat resistant whisk all the time, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Stir in 1 Tbsp. black treacle, turn up the heat slightly and let the mixture bubble away for 2-3 mins until it is a rich toffee colour, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Take the pan off the heat and beat in the rest of the double cream.
Remove the puddings from the oven. Leave in the tins for a few mins, then loosen them well from the sides of the tins with a small palette knife before turning them out.
You can serve them now with the sauce drizzled over, but they’ll be even stickier if left for a day or two coated in the sauce. To do this, pour about half the sauce into one or two ovenproof serving dishes.
Sit the upturned puddings on the sauce, then pour the rest of the sauce over them. Cover with a loose tent of foil so that the sauce doesn’t smudge (no need to chill).
When ready to serve, heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Warm the puddings through, still covered, for 15-20 mins or until the sauce is bubbling. Serve them on their own, or with cream or custard.