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Not Quite So Sticky Pudding

(recipe, Deborah Madison)

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Pouring hot liquid over a thick batter never looks as if it’s going to work in a pudding of this type, but it always does. You end up with a tender pudding-like cake surrounded by a caramel-like, dark molten sauce. Using coffee in place of some of the water topping tempers the sweetness of the dates, plus dates and coffee are one of those natural pairings. Douse the top of the finished pudding with brandy, Marsala, or Kahlua if you like, but be sure to serve this warm with something cold, wet, and creamy. This recipe is adapted from one found in Seasonal Fruit Desserts.


  1. 8 oz. whole Deglet Noor or Medjool dates (about 1½ cups)
  2. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  3. ½ cup light muscovado or light brown sugar
  4. 2 tsp. baking powder
  5. ½ tsp. salt
  6. 1 cup chopped walnuts
  7. ½ cup buttermilk, yogurt, or milk
  8. 2 Tbsp. walnut oil or melted butter
  9. 1 cup strong coffee
  10. ½ cup water
  11. 2 Tbsp. butter
  12. ½ cup dark muscovado or organic brown sugar
  13. 2 Tbsp. brandy, Marsala, or Kahlua
  14. Cold cream, ice cream, or yogurt for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish.
  2. If the dates are hard, steam them for a few minutes over simmering water, then turn them onto a counter and pit them. Remove the stones and chop each date into approximately 6 pieces. You should have about 1 cup, packed.
  3. Combine the flour, light brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add the dates, nuts, milk, and oil, and mix together to make a thick batter. You may find that your hands are the best tools here. Pat the batter into the baking dish and don’t get discouraged.
  4. Bring the coffee, water, butter, and dark brown sugar to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. Pour over the batter and bake for 30 minutes. When done, a gooey sauce will puddle up around the edges. Remove from the oven and pour over the alcohol. Serve warm with the cold cream or whatever dairy you prefer.