I’m still working on finishing up last week’s delicious meals, so I decided to kick this week off with dessert. One fabulous dessert.
I got the recipe from a South African cookbook donated to my cause by Vert. In reading it, it sounded a lot like Sticky Toffee Pudding, which you know that I’ve already made and love, but with one major distinction. Brandy.
Brandy in South Africa is a big deal and is the country’s most popular spirit. From the early distillation of grapes all the way back in 1652, South African brandy distilleries are governed by some of the strictest production regulations in the world. Who knew? Despite this interesting tidbit, there’s another reason that I associate South Africa with brandy and I have Yam to thank for that.
I visited Yam in Capetown about three years ago. It was the most impulsive travel purchase I’ve ever made (which says a lot). I started to consider the idea around 8:30 AM and by 10:30, I had bought a flight and was staring at my credit card, head in my hands asking myself what I had done. I had given myself a little less than three weeks to get my act together which meant applying for a visa and getting the necessary vaccines for my week down there. What?!
Yam moved down there to take a breather and gain some necessary perspective from her high stress, toxic D.C. life (she’d agree with me, and she no longer leads such an existence!). She had quit her job and spent three months volunteering in a women’s aid clinic and in watching her, I was really struck by how at-ease she seemed. You know how some people just click with a city? For me, it’s London. For Apple Crisp, it’s Paris. For Lettuce, New Orleans. All my friends seem to have a place that they’ve visited or lived where they left a part of their heart, and for Yam it was Capetown. In watching her, it’d been a long time since I’d seen her so comfortable, and I was happy for her. One habit that Yam seemed to adopt is that of a nightcap. I remember when I first met her my first year of law school, she barely drank at all and now she was having daily nightcaps?? Anyway, it was funny departure and I just went with it. And her liquor of choice? Brandy. So Yam, this dessert I dedicate to you.
After eating this, I was shamed by the old English lady that lives deep within me to admit that I liked this better than my beloved Sticky Toffee Pudding. I’m also pretty sure I’m a little drunk as I write this. That was a lot of brandy and I am half Asian, after all. Anyway, SO GOOD. So good.
- 1 cup stoned dates, finely chopped
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 stick butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 ¾ cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 3 tsp butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup brandy
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- Whipped cream, to accompany
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Mix half of the dates with the baking soda and pour the boiling water over it. Mix and let cool.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and then add the eggs. Add the dry ingredients and fold in to combine.
- Add the remaining dates and nuts and then add the water-date mixture.
- Pour into a large, greased baking dish and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick tests done and it is springy to the touch. While it’s baking, make the brandy syrup.
- Heat the butter, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Cook about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the brandy, vanilla and salt.
- Pour the warm syrup over the pudding as soon as it comes out of the oven. It may seem like a lot, but it will soak in.
- Serve warm or cold.
- You may have to pour the brandy in stages for it to properly soak in.