Guilt-less Desserts & Treats for your Family
I used to think I was a likeable person… but a recent event has made me question if I am or not. You see I used to be an extrovert; maybe the queen of extroverts. I was always the first to put myself out there, to meet new people and take on the roles that no one else wanted to. In my 20’s I was the go-to person to get something done, but in my 30’s I seem to be the person that no-one goes near… or maybe I just smell and no one wants to stand that close to me. At least that would be a simple fix! The other week I was picking up 5yo H from school and a Mum from his class parked next to me. She was a bit quicker out of the car than me (not hard with my oversized belly) and proceeded to make a dash for the classroom. It seemed innocent enough (and maybe it was) but I immediately thought ‘why didn’t she wait and walk with us to class?’ Maybe it was because last time we saw her 3yo S spent the whole time roaring at her youngest child (it’s his new thing) or maybe she just didn’t see us… or maybe she doesn’t like me.
In my defence being a former extrovert can be hard. People take your quietness and lack of group interaction as standoffishness and even rudeness when in fact it’s a lack of confidence and trust that is at the core of your aloof behaviour. There have been people, incidents and public scrutiny in my 30’s that have led me to be more cautious with my friendship, my time and my trust. I no longer go into a situation with confidence and enthusiasm; I choose to take a cautious approach, protecting myself against judgement and hurt… which is ironic really as that is what ensures that people don’t understand the type of person that you are. It’s like you need a badge that reads “please don’t take my lack of social enthusiasm as a sign that I don’t like you or that I am rude. I am simply working out whether you will hurt me and how I can join in without being judged” – on 2nd thoughts a t-shirt or a plaque might be needed!
As a result of my experiences with bullying, stress, anxiety and depression I have become a ‘shadow of my former self’. Initially I thought this was a bad thing; I thought I had lost my vigour and zest for life but over time I have realised that it’s not. My priorities have shifted and my goals are now very different than they used to be. Hobbies have now become passions and I now place a greater emphasis on myself; my happiness, my health and my security, and these are all intertwined with my family. Whilst I may not put myself ‘out there’ in vulnerable positions any more I do not shy away from a challenge; so don’t mistake my lack of activism as a sign of weakness for you will rue the day you thought I was feeble. I permanently wear a Spartan Race wrist band that says UNBREAKABLE. It is a reminder that with the struggles come the triumphs and it reminds me that whatever comes, whatever life brings you can climb over that wall, make it up that mountain and cross the finish line. And if people don’t like me, then that leaves me with more time and energy for the people I do like and trust… and of course there is always time for cake.
These Sticky Date Muffins with the Best Date Sauce Ever were made after a request from a reader. I was asked to healthify a Sticky Date Muffin recipe that someone had found which used way too much sugar, as well as being full of gluten. I’ve already had many tasty encounters with Sticky Date (with cupcakes and cakes) but why I had never muffinfied it I don’t know!
These Sticky Date Muffins are made using my favourite secret ingredient; Sweet Potato. Actually, it’s more of a well-known fact than a mystery that I LOVE to use Sweet Potato in desserts. Baked and pureed Sweet Potato is so soft and fluffy and adds moisture to your baked goodie without being too overpowering as it’s own flavour (if you’ve never made your own click here for easy instructions). I love to pair it with Chocolate (like here, here and in this cook book) but I am happy to report it also works well with dates and caramel.
I have used Salted Caramel Date Sauce as the decadent accompanist to these Sticky Date Muffins, instead of my normal Caramel Sauce. This Salted Caramel Date Sauce has a richer flavour and works better with the denseness of the muffins. It’s also the sauce that I use on my Christmas Pudding.
- 1/2 Cup Dates, chopped
- 1/4 Cup Boiling Water
- Dash of Bicarb Soda
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
- 1/3 Cup Milk(of choice)
- 1 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1/3 Cup puréed baked Sweet Potato (to make Sweet Potato: place a whole, unpeeled s.p. in a moderate oven for approximately 1 hour. When cooled, remove the skin and scoop out contents and use). Banana could be substituted but the taste would slightly different.
- 1 Cup Almond Meal
- 4 Tablespoons Coconut Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Ginger
- Salted Caramel Date Sauce and Whipped Cream for serving
- 1/2 cup Dates, chopped
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- Dash Bi-carb Soda
- 2 Tablespoons Golden Syrup
- 100 ml Coconut Cream (the thickened part from the top of a chilled can)
- 1/2 Cup Whipped Coconut Cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes
- 1 400ml can Coconut Cream, opened and in fridge overnight
- 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- Preheat the oven to 175C/350F
- Line a muffin tray with 8 muffin cases and lightly grease each one.
- Place the dates in a small bowl and add the boiling water and bicarb and allow to sit and soften for 30 minutes. Once softened, place the date mixture in a blender (or use a hand blender) and process until smooth.
- Put all the wet ingredients (including the sweet potato and the date mixture) into a small bowl and whisk together lightly by hand. If the sweet potato is chunky blitz the wet ingredients in a food processor.
- In another bowl, put all the dry ingredients and whisk together lightly by hand.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl and stir until combined.
- Divide the mixture evenly into the greased cases.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
- Allow the muffins to cool in the tin before removing.
- Store in an airtight container.
- These muffins can be eaten warm as a special dessert with whipped cream and salted caramel date sauce.
- Place the dates into a small bowl and cover with boiling water and add the bicarb.
- Allow to sit and soften for at least 20 minutes.
- Plate the date mixture, golden syrup and coconut cream in a blender and purée.
- Pour the purée mixture into a small saucepan and, over a medium heat, stir until bubbling.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the whipped coconut cream and cook, stirring occasionally for 7-10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
- Stir in the salt and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- Scoop the thickened cream from the tin, discarding the watery liquid at the bottom.
- Place the cream in a mixing bowl of a kitchen stand and beat using a whisk attachment.
- Add the maple syrup and vanilla and continue whisking until thick (this can take up to 10 minutes depending on the quality of your cream). Depending on your taste buds you may require more sweetener.
- The cream will thicken again as it is stored in the fridge.
- Keep refridgerated.