1½ cups pitted dates, finely chopped (250g)
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
125g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
150g dark cooking chocolate, finely chopped
Vanilla ice-cream, to serve
180g block Caramello milk chocolate, chopped
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup thickened cream
50g unsalted butter, chopped
Lightly grease a 20cm x 30cm lamington pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 3cm above pan edges.
Bring 1¼ cups water to boil in a medium saucepan. Remove. Stir in dates and soda. Transfer to a bowl. Cool.
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Transfer to a large bowl. Mixture may look curdled at this stage.
Add date mixture and combined sifted flour and baking powder. Fold until combined. Fold in chocolate. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth over top.
Cook in a moderate oven (180C) for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Remove from oven, leaving pudding in pan.
Meanwhile, make sauce. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is hot. Whisk until smooth. Remove.
Using a skewer, piece all over the top of hot pudding through to the base. Pour over 1 cup hot sauce. Stand for 10 minutes.
Serve pudding with ice-cream and remaining sauce.
TIP! Pudding and sauce can be made up to two days ahead. Keep, covered, in the fridge. Reheat portions of pudding, then sauce, in the microwave before serving.