80g castor sugar
60g castor sugar (to caramelise)
100g fresh dates
6 egg yolks
40g castor sugar
750ml thin cream
1 vanilla bean, split lenghtways
1 cinnamon stick
Heat the sugar and 80ml of water in a saucepan, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. add the dates and Kahlua and stir to combine. Place a circle of non-stick baking paper over the date mixture and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until the dates are very soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Once cool, remove the seeds from the dates, then finely chop.
To make the custard, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar in a medium bowl until pale. Bring the cream to the boil in a medium saucepan, then slowly add to the egg mixture, whisking to combine. Return to the pan with the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is quite thick (Do not let the custard boil.) Pour into a medium bowl over a sink filled with cold water to cool.
Add the date mixture to the base of the ramekins. Strain the cooled custard over the top (discard the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick). Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until the custard is set and the mixture is well chilled.
Preheat grill to the highest setting. Sprinkle the top of the custards with a little of the sugar and place under grill for a minute or until brown and bubbling. Refrigerate for a further 5 minutes. Dust with a little more sugar and place back under the grill. (Alternatively, if you have a domestic blowtorch, this works even better.)
If you have any left over, give it to your friend Lesley.
Contributor: Lesley James