1 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
75g unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups self-raising flour
Double cream, to serve
COCONUT CARAMEL SAUCE
400ml can coconut milk
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
Grease a metal pudding steamer (8-cup capacity) with butter. Line base and side with five long strips of baking paper, 6cm in width.
Place dates and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in soda. Transfer to a large bowl. Stand for 5 minutes.
Add butter and sugar to date mixture. Stir until butter is melted. Stir in eggs and flour. Pour into steamer. Top with a sheet of baking paper. Seal with lid.
Place a small, heatproof saucer in the centre of a removable bowl of a 5 to 6-litre capacity slow cooker. Sit steamer on saucer. Pour enough boiling water into cooker to come three-quarters of the way up the side of the steamer. Cover cooker tightly with foil, then cover with lid.
Cook on HIGH setting for about 2 hours and 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove. Stand pudding in steamer for 10 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate.
Meanwhile, make sauce. Combine milk and sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil. Gently boil for about 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
Pour 1/3 cup sauce over pudding. Serve with cream and remaining sauce.
TIP! Pudding can be made up to three days ahead. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat serving pieces in the microwave.