From the fabulous new cookbook The Blue Ducks in the Country by Darren Robertson and Mark La Brooy, this is a little play on the classic sticky date pudding that we all know so well, with the mandarins bringing a lovely citrus freshness and flavour. You can mix it up even further by adding 200g of roughly chopped chocolate to the batter. This creates warm chocolate bombs that go really well with the boiled mandarins. We’ve been using a similar recipe on the dessert menu at The Ducks in Rosebery, and it’s been a real winter hit. Mandarin & Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce!
110 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
320 g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
360 g plain flour
300 g dates, roughly chopped
2 heaped teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
double cream or ice cream, to serve
220 g caster sugar
100 g unsalted butter
100 ml cream
Preheat the oven to 190°C fan-forced. Grease a large loaf tin with butter.
Fill a saucepan with water and bring it to the boil. Lower in the unpeeled mandarins and boil for 45 minutes, then drain.
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds (keep the scraped bean in a container of caster sugar to make vanilla sugar, or freeze for another use) in an electric mixer on medium speed until pale.
Add the eggs one at a time while beating. Add the flour in four batches, incorporating each addition before adding the next.
Add the dates and 600 ml of water to a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the bicarbonate of soda – the mixture will rise and froth as the bicarb is activated. Pour the dates and liquid into the creamed butter and eggs and fold in by hand until combined.
Roughly chop the mandarins into 1 cm chunks, skin and all, and fold them through the batter.
Pour the batter into the greased tin, leaving about a 2 cm gap from the top – if you have excess batter, just fill ramekins or coffee cups and cook them for a shorter time.
Place the tin in a deep roasting tin and fill the tin with hot water to come halfway up the sides of the loaf tin. Cover both tins with foil, creating an enclosed water bath and bake for about 55 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
To make the butterscotch sauce, add the caster sugar to a very clean saucepan over medium heat. Don’t stir it.
Once the sugar has melted and become a dark caramel colour, add the butter and cream while stirring and immediately remove the pan from the heat. The butterscotch will boil intensely until the temperature drops. If there are any crystallised sugar lumps, pass the sauce through a fine sieve. If not, pour the sauce into a container. Don’t refrigerate as it will harden.
Cut the pudding into thick slices, pour over the butterscotch sauce (reheating if needed) and serve with double cream or ice cream.
The Blue Ducks in the Country is published by Plum RRP $39.99