This is an Asian-inspired twist on a classic winter dessert. The miso acts as the salt component in a salted caramel sauce, and the whisky brings an aromatic component to the sauce that really lifts it into Delicious Town territory.
Li says he likes this version of the iconic dessert because of its flavours that correspond with a classic whisky cocktail. “With the whisky and the orange and the smokiness of the black cardamom, the flavour profile of the dessert is almost like an old-fashioned,” Li says. “And the miso elevates the flavour of what would otherwise be a standard salted caramel sauce.”
For the pudding
200g pitted dates, roughly chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g butter, softened
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
For the miso whisky caramel sauce
1 cup brown sugar
300ml thickened cream
2 tbsp whisky, preferably Japanese
1 tbsp miso paste
For the ice cream
1L good quality vanilla ice cream
2 tsp ground black cardamom seeds
Zest and juice of 1 orange
For the praline
1/2 cup water
1 cup white sugar
½ cup pumpkin seeds, hulled and toasted
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
For the ice cream: take ice cream out of the freezer to soften slightly. Once soft enough to mix with a spoon but still frozen, add the orange juice, zest and cardamom seeds and mix through. Place back in the freezer immediately to set.
For the praline: Cook sugar, water, and a pinch of salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a metal fork, until melted and a pale golden brown. Cook caramel without stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden.
Stir in pumpkin seeds and pecans and pour onto baking paper, spreading into a thin sheet before it hardens. Do all of this swiftly as the caramel hardens really quickly.
Cool praline on baking sheet on a rack until completely hardened, then break into large pieces. When ready to serve, roughly chop the pieces into smaller shards.
For the pudding: Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease eight quenelle-shaped pudding moulds.
Place dates and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Pour over boiling water. Allow to stand for 20 minutes.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Using a large metal spoon, fold through date mixture and flour until well combined.
Spoon mixture into prepared cake pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Turn onto a plate.
For the sauce: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan except for the whisky and miso on the stove over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until sauce comes to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add the whisky and miso paste and whisk until very well combined.
To plate up: Place a warm pudding in the centre of the plate. To the side, place a quenelle of ice cream. Drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with the crumbled praline and serve immediately.