Similar to Sticky Toffee Pudding of Scotland, this gooey, tooth rotting, sweet treat is awesome. The beer adds a whole new dimension to the caramel sauce flavour, and the dates give a weight to the cakes that make you feel like you had a lot, when you only ate a little.
Preheat grill to 325°F
In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Add dates and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda, it will bubble.
Butter or spray a 9–inch round cake pan, or a muffin tin, if you want to make individual cakes. I do this, purely because if I do not, then I end up eating half of the cake in one sitting.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
Add flour mixture to the butter mixture slowly. Beat in dates in the water, and walnuts, until they are just combined. Pour batter into cake pan or muffin tin.
Bake on the grill for 55 to 60 minutes or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean for the cake pan. If going the muffin tin method, the little cakes take about 20 minutes, but keep an eye on them as the outsides can get really dark very fast.
Beer Caramel Sauce
In a medium saucepan, reduce the beer by half over medium–high heat. Measure the reduced beer in a glass or metal measuring cup to ensure that it reduced to ½ cup. Return to pan.
Add brown sugar, salt and double devon cream. Simmer until reduced to a thickened sauce. Let cool slightly and serve warm with the date cake and vanilla ice cream.
For added barbecued-ness, slice the date cake and grill the slices before serving them. Make sure that you have very clean and well oiled grids, you don’t want your cake to taste like steak!
Pairing your beer with this, a complimentary beer will be an pale ale, and have citrus, clove and heather notes with a warm finish. A contrasting beer will be something like a vanilla porter, while heavy, has the sweet and nutty flavours that contrast with the citrus of the fruit and the caramel sauce.
This recipe is very similar to something known as Sticky Toffee Pudding, a recipe with origins in Scotland. It also happens to top my list of Top 10 Desserts EVER.