Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Mix
the dates with the hot milk and set aside
for 20 mins. Mix the raisins with the rum
and do the same. Grease 9 dariole or small
pudding moulds and sit them in a deep
roasting tin or baking dish. Put the kettle on.
Whizz the dates and milk together in a
food processor until you have a smooth
purée, then scrape into a large bowl and
mix with the oil and eggs, before stirring
in the bicarbonate of soda, flour and
sugar. Finally fold in the rum-soaked
raisins and any rum left in the bowl.
Divide between the darioles, then
carefully pour boiling water into the tin
or dish so it comes two-thirds to halfway
up the sides of the darioles. Bake for
20-25 mins on a low shelf in the oven.
Check the puds are done with a
skewer, then lift out and cool a little.
For the sauce melt the butter, sugar and
cream together, then turn up the heat
until it bubbles and comes together into
a smooth, shiny sauce. Stir in the rum
and raisins and cool. Turn out the
puddings from the moulds, scraping
around the sides of each with a blunt
cutlery knife first. Line up in a shallow
baking dish and cover with cling film.
Keep the puds and sauce somewhere
cool for up to 24 hrs.
To serve spoon a little sauce and raisins
over each pud, then pour the rest around
(if the sauce has separated a little just
gently reheat and stir back together).
Cover the whole dish with a tent of foil.
When the Christmas dinner is ready turn
the oven down to 120C/100C fan/gas ¼
and reheat puddings for about 30-40 mins
until hot. Serve with crème fraîche.