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1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Brush a 20cm springform tin with melted butter and line the base and sides with baking paper. Chop dates using scissors dipped in hot water. Put dates and water in a medium heavy-based pan. Bring slowly to the boil, then remove from heat. Stir in bicarb and stand until lukewarm.
2. Peel each pear, then cut into quarters and remove core. Cut each quarter into 3 slices. Arrange pear slices in the base of the prepared tin. Using electric beaters, beat the butter, caster sugar, vanilla bean paste and eggs in a small bowl until light and creamy. Transfer the creamed butter mixture to a large bowl.
3. Sift flour and cocoa onto the creamed butter mixture. Add the cooled date mixture, then mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Spoon the date mixture over the pears in the prepared tin. Smooth the top of the pudding and bake for 40-45 minutes.4. Put brown sugar, cream and extra butter in a small heavy-based pan and stir over a low heat until
the sugar has dissolved. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes. Remove the pudding from the oven and pour over ½ cup of the hot sauce. Return the pudding to the oven and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve the pudding hot, in wedges, with remaining sauce and cream, if desired.YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE THIS RECIPE FROM KAREN MARTINI