How to make individual sticky date puddings
To make individual puddings, grease 8 x 1-cup (250 ml) ovenproof dishes. Spoon pudding mixture into dishes. Top with pleated baking paper and foil. Secure with kitchen string or an elastic band. Place puddings in a large, deep frying pan, with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Cover saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Boil for 1 hour, replenishing the boiling water as necessary to maintain level. Stand puddings for 5 minutes then turn onto a plate.
Grease a 7-cup (1.75L) pudding steamer or basin. Place a round of baking paper in the base.
Combine the dates and the water in a medium saucepan, bring to the boil, then remove from heat. Add soda, stand for 5 minutes. Blend or process date mixture until almost smooth.
Beat butter, vanilla and sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir in date mixture, sifted flour and nuts.
Pour mixture into the pudding steamer. Top with pleated baking paper and foil (this will allow the pudding to expand as it cooks). Secure with kitchen string or clip lid in place.
Place the pudding in a large saucepan with enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the steamer. Cover saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, then boil for 2 hours, replenishing boiling water as necessary to maintain level. (It’s a good idea to have a kettle of boiling water ready.)
TOFFEE SAUCE Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, and boil, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat. Carefully add the golden syrup, butter and liquor (or extra water). Take care as syrup will bubble and splutter. Stir until well combined. Cool to room temperature.
Stand pudding for 10 minutes before turning onto a plate. Drizzle with toffee sauce. Top with extra walnuts. Serve with thick cream, if desired.
Suitable to freeze. For an alcohol free version of the toffee sauce, swap the brandy for water. The pudding can be made up to one week ahead, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Toffee sauce is best made on the day of serving.Test Kitchen tip