This decadent vegan dessert is made with date purée and finished with salted maple caramel and almond brittle. Equipment and preparation: You will need 6 silicon dome molds and a cook’s thermometer.
For the cakes
- 120g/4½oz dried dates, roughly chopped
- 150g/5½oz boiling water
- 100g/3½oz ground almonds
- 50g/1¾oz fine easy-cook polenta
- 70g/2½oz caster sugar
- 80g/2¾oz plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 1 lemon, zest only
- 80ml/2½fl oz vegetable or sunflower oil
- 150ml/5fl oz plain dairy-free yogurt
- cooking spray
For the almond brittle
- 110g/3¾oz flaked almonds
- 95g/3¼oz liquid glucose
- 90g/3¼oz caster sugar
- 3g fine salt
- 6g/⅛oz bicarbonate soda
For the salted maple caramel
- 2 dates, stones removed and thinly sliced
- 50ml/2fl oz bourbon
- 120ml/4fl oz maple syrup
- 40ml/1½fl oz soya cream, at room temperature
- ¼ tsp sea salt flakes
- To make the cakes, preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
- Put the chopped dates in a saucepan and pour over the boiling water. Simmer on the stove until they are softened and the water has evaporated slightly. Remove from the heat and blend to a purée using a hand-blender or mini-blender. Leave to cool.
- Mix together the ground almonds, polenta, caster sugar, plain flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon zest.
- Whisk together the oil, half of the date purée (the rest can be frozen and used another day), and yogurt, and then fold this into the dried ingredients. Mix until combined.
- Using cooking spray, grease 6 silicon dome molds and fill with the mixture to just below the top. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown on top.
- Once cooked, de-mold the cakes and leave to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes
- To make the almond brittle, preheat the oven to 100C/80C Fan/Gas ¼. Lightly toast the almonds in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Put the glucose and sugar in a small, thick-bottomed saucepan and place on medium heat to lightly caramelize.
- Mix the almonds with the salt and pop in the low oven to keep warm until the sugar has caramelized. Once the caramel is lightly golden, add the warm nuts and salt and gently mix. Remove from the heat and dust in the bicarbonate soda, then using a spatula, mix gently ensuring the bicarb is incorporated, but be careful not to knock the bubbles out. Pour the mixture onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and leave to cool. Once hard and set, chop into smaller pieces.
- To make the salted maple caramel, place the sliced dates in a bowl and pour over the bourbon and leave to soak.
- Pour the maple syrup into a small saucepan over medium heat and using a cook’s thermometer, cook to 110C. Once the temperature is reached, remove from the heat and pour in the soya cream. Gently whisk until emulsified. Add the salt and the bourbon-soaked dates and mix again.
- To serve, immediately pour the hot salted maple caramel over each cake and sprinkle with almond brittle.