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Dessert is not really a thing in Sichuan cuisine, the most you’ll see restaurants do is maybe a poached pear in sugar syrup, or a cooling herbal ice jelly. But I love turning everything I make into an opportunity to add spice and Sichuan pepper, so you know I managed to make a spicy version of my favorite dessert, sticky date cake.

The quality of dates here is important, don’t skimp, and use a good quality low gluten cake flour for best results. Serve warm with warm sauce drizzled on top and some salted caramel ice cream on the side. You’re about to become the most popular person at your potluck.

Serving size: Serves 12 - 16
  • 1 lb fresh soft dates, pitted

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 550 ml very hot water

  • 1 vanilla bean

  • 300 g granulated sugar

  • 1 egg and 1 yolk

  • 270 g cake flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 70g unsalted butter

  • 400 g packed dark brown sugar

  • 240 ml heavy cream

  • 2 1/2 tbsp whiskey

  • 2 tsp ground chili flakes

  • 1 tsp ground roasted Sichuan pepper


Preheat oven to 350F and butter a 10x14 inch glass or metal baking dish.

In small bowl, combine dates and baking soda, pour hot water over dates and mix with fork until mostly dissolved and pulpy (about 5 min)

Scrape seeds from vanilla into a bowl, whisk in sugar, egg and yolk until pale yellow and smooth ribbons when lifted with spoon. stir in date mixture and incorporate completely.

In small bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. gently fold flour in date mixture until just incorporated.

Pour batter into baking dish and bake until sewer inserted in centre comes out clean, about 40-45 min depending on oven. Leave in pan 40 min before serving.

In large, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt butter with brown sugar, as soon as sugar has dissolved, gradually add cream, pouring in steady stream while whisking constantly. remove from heat and whisk in whiskey, chili flakes and Sichuan pepper, adjust more or less to taste.

Pierce cake all over about 20 times with butter knife, pour half of the sauce over top of cakes and set aside to rest. Cake can be store at room temp in the baking dish covered in plastic wrap, for 1 day, or in a refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheat cake and sauce before serving, drizzling sauce on top of cake and serving with ice cream (try adding Sichuan Chili Crisp to your ice cream as well)