Wednesday, March 19, 2008

English Chocolate Cake with Caramel Sauce

I admit it, I love a bargain. The feeling of satisfaction that comes after getting a great deal. However my love of a bargain can sometimes override my good sense. Especially when it comes to the wholesale clubs, like Sam's and Costco. I'm a Sam's club member, and you really can get great deals on everything from tires to milk. I've gotten two garden hoses for less then the price of one in a regular store, and picked up steaks for significantly less than the price at the grocery store. The excitement of such deals can make me temporarily loose all sense of reason. Aside from restaurants and families of 8 or more who really needs two gallons of mayonnaise? Who's got enough space in the refrigerator? But it's such a great deal that I've been known to make such purchases. This happened on a recent trip to Sam's. They had dates on sale for $4.88, about the price of a small box at the grocery store. $4.88, for 3 pounds of pitted dates. I grabbed a container and threw it into my cart. See right there, losing sense of reason...3lbs of dates?!? Yes an amazing bargain, but how many dates can I really eat? So after making my great purchase and going home, it began to dawn on me that I had 3 pounds of dates to use!! I've looked for any reason to use dates since I bought them. I stuffed some with Parmesan and wrapped them in bacon as an appetizer for a party. I made 2 dozen for the party and it barely made a dent in the 3 pounds. So I've been keeping an eye out for any recipe using LOTS of dates. I came across a recipe for Queens Cake from La Cuisine d'Helen. It uses 1 3/4 cups of dates!! Yeah. Queens cake is sort of a chocolate version of sticky toffee pudding, which is one of favorite desserts, so I couldn't wait to give it a try. This is an awesome cake. No one would even guess it had so many dates in it! Helen calls it the ultimate cake and I would have to agree. The caramel sauce alone is enough to make you swoon. Make this cake even if your not trying to use up 3 lbs of dates. With all those dates it's healthy cake, right? Well maybe not after you add the caramel sauce;)
I still have about a pound and a half of dates left to use so if you've got any suggestions???
English Chocolate Cake with Caramel Sauce

1 1/4 cups water
1 3/4 cups dates
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter -- softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound nuts (optional)
8 ounces chocolate chips

2 cups cream
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.

Put the water and dates in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Boil the dates for 3 min. Turn off the heat, add the baking soda and let cool a bit. Mash the dates with a fork until pureed.

In a medium bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Whisk well.

In a large bowl, cream sugar with the soft butter. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add half of the flour mixture and mix. Add the dates. Then finish with the flour and mix well.

Pour into a 13x9 buttered pan. Bake for 25 min.

In the meantime, bring the cream, brown sugar and butter to a boil. Boil for 4 min. on med-heat and take out 1 1/4 cups of the mix. Continue to cook what's remaining for another 10-13 min.

After 25 min., take out the cake and put on top the nuts, if using. Add the chocolate chips and pour the 1 1/4 cup of the caramel sauce on top.

Return to oven for another 20 min.

Serve with ice cream and the caramel sauce


Rosie said...

I'm all for a good bargain too you can't beat it ;)

Now for that delicious chocolate cake and caramel sauce what a stunner and such a great combo of flavours - mmmmm

Rosie x

Marie said...

OOhhh, that looks lovely and wonderfully delicious. I must try this soon. I love a good bargain! Have you thought about a Date and Nut loaf or my favourite . . . Sticky Toffee Bread Pudding. I have a delicious recipe for it posted on my page!!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Wow, that's a lot of dates. :)

This cake looks comforting deliciously sticky!

I have never cooked nor baked with dates, but I do have some recipes with them at home. I'll search for something special and let you know.

Gretchen Noelle said...

What a great problem to have! Dates are not available here in Peru so i am slowly, ever so slowly using the one pound bag I have. My favorites are a Moroccan Chicken recipe with dates on my site and just recently a banana date bread (muffin) that I need to post. Yummers!

Damien Franco said...

All I can say is wow! Totally impressed with your blog. Love the candidness of your content and the recipes are fantastic. I think the thing that really makes your blog pop is your photography. Using natural light and a good eye for composition you have done a fantastic job of letting our eyes feast on these yummy morsels. Bravo!

By the by, I found your blog featured on the blog of the day at Fuel My Blog!

Farmgirl Susan said...

YUM! This looks incredible. Once in a while I buy dates and then can never think of what to do with them. Putting them in cake is a great idea! ; )

Jack said...

Mmmmmm looks scrumptious!... my mouth is watering just looking at the photo.

Found you blog from you link on Fuel my Blog... great spot you have, I'll be back for sure.

SaraLynn said...

oh I could so eat this right now!!

Jannett said...

Idea...sticky toffee pudding, date bars (oatmeal in them)
I will keep thinking... :)