This wicked pudding is definitely not for people who are on a diet! Merrilees normally makes one big pudding but you can also make it into individual portions.


  • 175 g/6 oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

  • 175 g/6 oz dates, stoned and chopped (preferably medjool)

  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • 175 g/6 oz golden caster sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 175 g/6 oz self-raising flour, sifted

  • 100 g/4 oz dark muscovado sugar

  • 4 tbsp golden syrup

  • 4 tbsp double cream

  • vanilla ice-cream, to serve


  • 1.

    Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4; fan oven 160C.

  • 2.

    Grease a 25 cm x 18 cm/10 in X 7 in non-stick baking tin that is at least 2.5 cm/1 in deep.

  • 3.

    Place the dates in a pan with 300 ml/1/2 pint of water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes until softened. Remove from the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda until the mixture stops foaming.

  • 4.

    Place 50 g/2 oz of the butter and the caster sugar in a large bowl and cream together until light and fluffy, using an electric mixer, then beat in the vanilla essence. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition.

  • 5.

    Fold in the flour with a metal spoon and finally fold in the date mixture. Pour into the greased baking tin and cook for about 35-40 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch.

  • 6.

    To make the toffee sauce, simply place the remaining 100g/4 oz of butter the dark muscovado sugar and golden syrup in a pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Stir in the cream and allow to bubble down, then remove from the heat.

  • 7.

    When the pudding is cooked, remove from the oven and after 5 minutes turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely. To serve, cut the pudding into portions and arrange on plates. Pour over some of the toffee sauce, then flash under a hot grill until bubbling, if liked. Add a scoop of ice cream and serve the remainder of the sauce separately, hot or cold.

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