1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
3/4 cup plus 2 ½ teaspoons (3.4 ounces) flour
3/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dates
Hot prepared toffee sauce
Whipped mascarpone cream, cream or ice cream
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 6 (6-ounce) ramekins with butter, and dust with sugar. In a saucepan, whisk the baking soda into the boiling water.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and vanilla until fully incorporated.
4. To the butter mixture, add the egg and beat until fully incorporated. Over low speed, slowly and gently add the dry ingredients, scraping the bowl to make sure the batter is fully mixed.
6. Over low speed, slowly stream the hot water into the batter. Add the dates and continue mixing over low speed until the batter thickens. This makes about 2 cups batter.
7. Divide the batter between the prepared ramekins. Bake until the cakes are a dark, caramel color, about 45 minutes.
8. Remove the ramekins and cool the cakes for 5 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the hot toffee sauce onto the cakes until they seem saturated (extra sauce will pool at the bottom, this can be gathered for additional glazing and serving), then glaze the cakes a second time with the sauce.
9. Set the cakes aside for about 30 minutes to set up and cool. The cakes can be made a few hours in advance and held on a baking sheet, loosely covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature.
10. To serve, cover each cake with one-fourth cup warm toffee sauce. Serve with a generous quenelle or dollop of mascarpone cream or whipped cream, or scoop of ice cream.
Each of 12 servings: 534 calories; 2 grams protein; 73 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 27 grams fat; 17 grams saturated fat; 102 mg cholesterol; 63 grams sugar; 115 mg sodium.
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