Not all deserts are created equal. This one is what we might call from a privileged background. It features both dates and pecan nuts which immediately give it the edge. To seal the deal it’s also topped with a toffee sauce. It’s the type of dessert that will feature on the menus of fancy restaurants, and that I will order when it’s on those menus. Until the day comes in your life when you realise you can actually make an even better version of it in a potjie on the fire. Tere is not a single difficult task in this recipe. Just get the list of ingredients together and follow the steps. If you can read this book, you can make this dessert. The most difficult part will be finding the dates. They are hidden in the baking section of a supermarket. There will be a packet of pitted date pieces, compressed into a block, and that is what you’re looking for. If you can’t find it, ask anyone in the supermarket for directions. While you’re in the baking section, also get some bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. From there make your way to the spice section and get some ginger powder in a little glass bottle. Everything else should be easy to find.
FOR THE BATTER
- 250g dates (chopped into small pieces)
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 cup boiling water
- ½cup butter (melted)
- ½cup brown sugar (any shade of brown)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1 packet pecan nuts (100g, roughly chopped)
FOR THE TOFFEE SAUCE
- ½cup butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup cream
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- Throw the chopped dates and bicarbonate of soda into your no. 10 flat-bottomed baking potjie. Pour the boiling water over it and leave to stand for 10 minutes. The bicarbonate of soda is needed to break up the dates and make them softer and juicier, so you will see the texture and colour of the mixture changing during these 10 minutes.
- Get a few coals under the potjie and add the butter and sugar to the dates in your potjie. Mix everything together and simmer on low heat until all the sugar is dissolved. We’re not trying to cook anything, just getting the sugar to melt. Remove from the heat and let it cool down.
- Once the mixture has cooled down (this will take about 10 minutes), add the eggs and mix well. Ten add all of the other ingredients for the batter and stir well to combine them. Don’t add the stuff for the sauce, just for the batter.
- Put the lid on the potjie and bake on medium heat for about 30 minutes by placing coals underneath the potjie and on top of the lid. It’s ready when you stick a knife into the pudding and the knife comes out without any raw dough sticking to the blade.
- When you think the baking process is nearing the end, mix all the sauce ingredients together in a small pot or pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until it starts to thicken, looks smooth and goes a rich brown toffee colour.
- When the dessert in the potjie is ready, pour all the sauce over it so that it can soak in. Alternatively, dish up spoonfuls of the cakey dessert and pour sauce over each portion.
- Serve with the type of trusted accompaniment you feel good about. These might include the likes of cream, ice cream and custard.
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