So, this was Christmas …

And now that it’s done,
We are left with our memories,
Of tears, joy or fun.

The New Year is here now
So leave the old one behind
and look forward to good times
with a fresh state of mind.

Focus on what could be
Don’t on dwell on the past
Spend more time with your loved ones
and less on things that don’t last.

When it’s all said and done, it’s family and loved ones that matter most and, using the words my son used to express his love for his bride on their wedding day…

I love my family like a fat kid loves chocolate, or in my case, chocolate cake…

and here’s a recipe for a delicious Chocolate and Date Cake with sticky toffee topping that my family absolutely love!img_2714.jpgWhat you need

  • 1 cup (170g) pitted dates
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 90g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons coffee essence
  • 200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • Vanilla to serve (optional)

For the sauce:

  • 150g brown sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 150ml thickened cream
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped.

What to do

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Grease a 24cm round cake pan and line with baking paper.

Place the dates and soda in a bowl and pour over 175ml of boiling water. Set aside for 30 minutes to soften.

In the meantime, beat the butter sugar and vanilla together with electric beaters until thick and pale. Add the eggs and beat until well combined – it may look a little separated, which is normal.

Place the dates and the liquid in a food processor and process until smooth, then add to the cake mixture.

Fold in the flour, baking powder, coffee essence and chopped chocolate.

Spread evenly into the cake pan αnd bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool a little in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack.

For the chocolate toffee sauce, place all of the ingredients in a saucepan and stir over low heat for 2-3 minutes until smooth.

Serve with ice cream, drizzled with the warm chocolate sauce.

Recipe adapted from Valli Little’s Sticky Mocha Pudding.