1/4 cup (1/2 stick/2oz./56g) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces pitted dates
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6oz./170g) butter
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F (180 C). Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside.
Combine the butter in sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blend until combined. Add the eggs and the vanilla and run the machine for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Wash the food processor bowl and steel knife for the next step.
Bring the 1 cup of water to a boil and remove from the heat. Add the baking soda and stir to dissolve.
Place the dates in the bowl of the food processor and slowly add the water while the machine is running. Process until the dates are coarsely chopped. Transfer the date mixture to the bowl with the butter and eggs and stir to combine.
Whisk the flour with the baking powder and add to the batter, mixing just to combine. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake until the cake is set and the edges just begin to shrink away from the sides of the pan, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack while you make the sauce.
Combine the cream, butter, and sugar in a medium pan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until the sauce thickens, 5 to 10 minutes.
Cut the warm cake into squares and place each serving in a shallow bowl. Pour some of the hot caramel sauce over each portion. Garnish with whipped cream or ice cream, if using.
Makes 9-12 servings.
Date: November 6, 2004