Sticky Date Cake with Caramel Custard and Cream Cheese Frosting

I don’t think my parents will ever forgive me for moving away. It is not an uncommon occurrence for one or the other to remind me that I am never around for significant events and birthdays. One of the hardest times for my mum is Mother’s Day. She was incredibly close to her mum, my Nana, and this little celebration has always been a big one in my family.

I couldn’t get home for Mother’s Day so I promised her that when I was back in Brisbane I would make her a special cake.

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Sticky date Cake with Caramel Custard and Cream Cheese Frosting

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I created this cake for my mum, incorporating all of her favourite things as well as some nostalgic touches: lashings of cream cheese frosting (she always used to get the carrot cake from the local cafe just for the cream cheese frosting), and my Nana’s famous caramel topping.

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We were eating thick, gooey caramel piled into tart shells, and layered between sponge cakes topped with cream, for years before caramel became fashionable… or contained salt. When I looked up this recipe in my Nana’s beautifully organised, handwritten recipe file I discovered it is more of a caramel custard. Whatever you want to call it, it’s delicious – thick and rich and perfect for topping all kinds of things. Spoiler alert: I’m going to try it in ice cream. Oh yes I am.

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I teamed it with a moist (I love that word, I don’t care what anyone says) and fluffy sticky date cake, plenty of cream cheese icing and some caramelised pecans. All my mum’s favourite things packed into one decadent cake. 

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Also, this post is a special one. I am joining in on a Virtual Biggest Morning Tea created by JJ from 84th & 3rd and Sally from Simmer & Boyle. This is a special event to raise funds for the Australian Cancer Council and this recipe is a particularly appropriate one. You see, the master of the amazing caramel topping there, my Nana, was taken from us far too soon after a long and very painful battle with cancer. If you are in the position to, I would love you to donate by following this link. And if you are a food blogger, why not check out the details on these amazing blogs and join in too.

N x  

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What would you have to include in a special cake for your mum? 
 

Sticky Date Cake with Caramel Custard and Cream Cheese Frosting
Rich sticky date cake topped with caramel custard, cream cheese frosting and finished with caramelised pecans
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Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
2 hr
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
2 hr
For the cake
  1. 2 1/4 cups (315g/11oz) chopped dates
  2. 1 1/2 cups (375ml) boiling water
  3. 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  4. 150g/5.3oz unsalted butter, chopped
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1 cup brown sugar
  7. 3 eggs
  8. 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
For the caramel (custard)
  1. 1 Tbsp flour
  2. 1/8 tsp salt (optional)
  3. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  4. 1 cup milk
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  7. 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
For the cream cheese frosting
  1. 250g cream cheese, softened
  2. 50g unsalted butter, softened
  3. 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  4. 1/2 tsp vanilla
For the caramelised pecans
  1. 1/2 cup pecans
  2. 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  3. 1 Tbsp butter
For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 160C/320F
  2. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with baking paper.
  3. Place dates and water in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes before adding bicarbonate of soda (it might fizz up a bit).
  4. Beat butter and sugar until creamy, add date mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Add eggs and flour and mix until just combined.
  6. Pour mixture evenly between tins.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  8. Allow cakes to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the caramel (custard)
  1. Place flour, salt, sugar and half of the milk in a medium saucepan and mix until combined
  2. Whisk eggs in a small bowl and whisk in the other half of the milk.
  3. Add egg mixture and butter to the saucepan and mix well.
  4. Place saucepan over a low to medium heat, whisking constantly (to avoid lumps) until mixture starts to thicken (about 10-15 minutes).
  5. Remove from heat and stir through vanilla essence.
  6. Allow to cool to room temperature before chilling in the fridge.
For the cream cheese frosting
  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Do not overmix.
  2. Gradually add icing sugar and beat between additions, you might like to add a little more if you want a stiffer icing.
  3. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
  4. Refrigerate to firm it up before frosting
For the caramelised pecans
  1. Place nuts, sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until butter and sugar are melted and coating the nuts (about 5 minutes).
  2. Spread out on parchment paper, separating the nuts and allow them to cool.
To assemble
  1. Place one cake on a serving plate.
  2. Pipe blobs (or fancy rosettes) of cream cheese around the edge of the cake, leaving a space in between. Continue in a spiral over the rest of the layer.
  3. Fill spaces between cream cheese with blobs (or rosettes) of caramel custard.
  4. Place second cake on top.
  5. Thickly spread cream cheese frosting on the top of the cake.
  6. Add dollops of caramel topping.
  7. Using the back of a teaspoon, swirl the caramel into the frosting.
  8. Top with caramelised nuts.
Notes
  1. Can be made a day ahead.
  2. To allow for chill times, I made the components in the following order: caramel custard, cake, cream cheese frosting, caramelised nuts.
  3. Be careful not to overbeat the cream cheese frosting or it can become quite runny.
Champagne and Chips http://www.champagneandchips.com/

 

27 comments on Sticky Date Cake with Caramel Custard and Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Gary Lum
    June 22, 2015 at 12:18 pm (2 years ago)

    Nicole this looks fabulous. The perfect after dinner dessert.

    Reply
    • Nicole - Champagne and Chips
      October 22, 2015 at 9:46 pm (2 years ago)

      Whoah, I’m significantly slack, I can’t believe I never replied to this. And yes, you may pour butterscotch over your piece as long as you include this frosting as well. One can never have too much caramel 🙂

      Reply
      • Gary Lum
        October 30, 2015 at 7:03 pm (2 years ago)

        I think we must be related Nicole. When I read, “One can never have too much caramel” I smiled broadly and knew we are of one mind 😀

        Reply
  2. Amy
    June 22, 2015 at 12:31 pm (2 years ago)

    What a beautiful treat for your Mum, and a wonderful tribute to your Nana.
    This cake looks like it could become a family favourite in our house too. My parents are always my biggest cheerleaders, and my most eager taste testers. I can’t wait to treat them with this gorgeous cake. Oh, and yes, yes, yes to trying the custard in ice cream! I can’t wait to hear about the results!

    Reply
  3. Jem @ Lost in Utensils
    June 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm (2 years ago)

    This cake looks incredible (I can almost taste it!) Nicole but the cause is even better.

    Reply
  4. Jessica @ Sweetest Menu
    June 22, 2015 at 2:08 pm (2 years ago)

    This cake looks RIDICULOUSLY good Nicole! Oh my word! That drippy caramel custard has me weak at the knees. I just ate caramel sauce all over vanilla ice cream last night and it was heaven. I can only imagine with this caramel custard would be like in ice cream – do it, do it!

    Reply
  5. JJ - 84thand3rd
    June 22, 2015 at 3:26 pm (2 years ago)

    I love how you combined so many family favouites into this cake (also, I’ll just take a bowl of that custard please and thank you!) Thank again for joining the cause xx

    Reply
  6. Gary Lum
    June 22, 2015 at 4:29 pm (2 years ago)

    Would you get upset if I poured butterscotch sauce over my slice? 😀

    Reply
  7. Sally
    June 22, 2015 at 6:32 pm (2 years ago)

    Nicole this cake is amazing! Caramel and custard, two of my favourite things 🙂 Thank you so much for joining in x

    Reply
  8. Cate
    June 22, 2015 at 7:40 pm (2 years ago)

    Yay, it cheered me right up this morning to see the recipe for this cake after seeing your instagram pic last week! The caramel custard sounds delicious, but then I guess it’s passed the test of time in your family! x

    Reply
  9. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    June 22, 2015 at 11:13 pm (2 years ago)

    Oh for the love of drooling! That’s an awesome cause and a spectacular cake you have going on there. I bet that put a smile on your mum’s dial! I must check out the Virtual Biggest Morning Tea, because although I’ve already enjoyed the real life version, there’s no such thing as too much cake!

    Reply
  10. Rebecca@Figs and Pigs
    June 23, 2015 at 5:03 am (2 years ago)

    Oh wow Nicole it looks amazing bet your mum was so pleased with this cake and its nostalgic sentiments.

    Reply
  11. thehungrymum
    June 23, 2015 at 5:42 pm (2 years ago)

    What an epic cake! Love the fact you have your nana’s recipe cards, that is priceless. Hope the cake helped soften the blow of you being away on mother’s day.

    Reply
  12. Emma
    June 23, 2015 at 7:19 pm (2 years ago)

    Blimey this looks good, all my favourite flavours too. Such a lovely cake to make for your mum and in honour of your nan.

    On the subject of the word moist, I never know what to call cakes anymore :(, I really don’t have a problem with it! (internet silliness I feel).

    Reply
  13. Malinda (@MBPaperPackages)
    June 23, 2015 at 8:08 pm (2 years ago)

    My mum’s favourite dessert is sticky date. She just had a birthday and was overseas for it. I am so baking this for her when she gets back!!!

    Reply
  14. Zamamabakes
    July 9, 2015 at 11:00 pm (2 years ago)

    Get out of of town!
    This cake looks amazing Nicole.
    Just loving the sentiment that comes with it, love how cooking and baking does that!
    My mum makes her caramel tart filling a very similar way to your Nana’s caramel.
    So sorry to hear of your Nana’s battle, life has a lot to answer for at times 🙁
    Gorgeous post lovely lady xx

    Reply
  15. Lizzie {Strayed Table}
    July 10, 2015 at 4:32 pm (2 years ago)

    That looks amazing!
    Honestly my hubby has been nagging at me for some time now to make him a sticky date pudding but I am not a fan, however I love cake and this looks so light and fluffy. Perfect.

    Reply
  16. Lauren @ Create Bake Make
    July 11, 2015 at 6:51 am (2 years ago)

    Nicole this looks amazing, all of my favourite things combined. Such an important cause too xx

    Reply
  17. erinmadethis
    July 12, 2015 at 9:57 am (2 years ago)

    Man this cake looks so moist! And yum!

    Reply
  18. Pug @ Pug's Modern Life
    July 18, 2015 at 1:12 pm (2 years ago)

    Oh my gaaaaaaaawd. I am so glad this cake isn’t really in front of me, because I would try and fit the whole thing in my mouth. That looks and sounds too incredible! I feel like if I made this, it could possibly end my mother’s refusal to eat anything I cook– I mean, just look at this cake! Who could resist??

    Reply
  19. Liz Posmyk (Good Things)
    October 20, 2015 at 3:24 pm (2 years ago)

    Nicole, this is a lovely cake… such a great combination of the sticky date with the caramel. I think it’s at the top of my list of cakes to bake in coming weeks. Lovely to meet you at EDB. xx

    Reply
    • Nicole - Champagne and Chips
      October 22, 2015 at 9:51 pm (2 years ago)

      So lovely to meet you too Liz. And thank you so much for my award. It was extra special given that I created this cake for my mum.

      Reply
  20. Lorenda
    November 22, 2015 at 10:50 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi Nicole

    A while back I was given a kilogram of dates (lovely big ones!) as a gift, which I kept in my fridge. Today I decided to look for additional recipes and stumbled upon this one of yours. So, aside from Cape Brandy Tart/Pudding (South African traditional recipe), a date loaf and a Sticky Toffee Pudding, I will also be making this cake. All for the freezer, or for a dinner/tea party soon.

    Reply
    • Nicole Bilson
      November 25, 2015 at 9:30 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Lorenda,
      Thank you so much for your lovely message. I love the sound of that Cape Brandy Tart, do you write a blog? I would love to check it out.
      I hope you like the cake as much as I do.

      Reply
  21. Margaret
    April 29, 2016 at 11:09 pm (1 year ago)

    Can you suggest something instead of the nuts please, a family member is allergic!

    Reply

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