Friday, 24 February 2012
8oz chopped, pitted dates (the square block variety is fine)
1 teaspoon bicarb of soda
6oz soft light brown sugar
4oz salted butter, very soft
1 teaspoon good vanilla essence
2 large eggs, beaten
6oz self-raising flour
6 tablespoons double cream
3oz soft light brown sugar
2oz icing sugar, preferably unrefined
Heat the oven to 170C or equivalent. Grease and line a 20cm square tin or brownie pan.
Chop the dates, put in a pan with the water and boil for a few minutes until soft and the water has evaporated. Allow to cool for 5 minutes or so and then stir in the bicarb. It will froth a bit. Now put the soft butter, the sugar, the eggs, vanilla and flour into a mixing bowl of a stand mixer or use a hand held mixer, and cream everything together for a minute or two until well combined. Don't overmix, though, a minute should do it. Fold in the dates using a metal spoon, turn into the tin, and bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly springy when pressed with your finger, and coming away slightly from the edge of the tin. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
Make the icing: put the cream, brown sugar and butter in a pan, bring slowly to the boil, stirring, to dissolve the sugar, then boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes - no more or it might set into toffee. If it does, add a spoonful or two of milk to the pan and gently reheat, stirring, to liquify it again. Add the icing sugar and beat with a wooden spoon until incorporated. You want a fudgy toffee icing, so add a little more icing sugar if it is too runny. Spread over the cooled cake and allow to set. Cut into squares and consume in sugary bliss, deluding yourself that dates are good for you, full of iron, and 1 of your 5 a day.