Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cinnamon Date Soufflé & a Book...

I am very new to the blogging world. So I was surprised to receive an e-mail from Simone Nowell of Zodiac Pubishing inviting me to the launch of their newly published book, Dates by Jo Parfitt & Sue Valentine . Unfortunately, I couldn't attend the launch because of my babies, she did suggest that I take them with me but I don't think she knows my toddler can be quite a nuisance, in the evenings especially. So the second best thing was that she sent me the PDF copy of the book! I love dates, not just because I am "Arab" or that dates "date" back to Ancient Egypt (where I am from) or that they are associated with the gulf region (where I live) but because they are a miraculous fruit. Religiously and culturally -in this part of the world at least-dates have been associated with healing and nourishment. After a long day of Fasting in the holy month of Ramadan, the first thing a Muslim will eat is a date, it will give him/her enough energy to finish prayers without any hunger pangs. It gives a gentle but firm nudge to a stomach that's been asleep for 12 hours. And even though it's quite sweet the sugar in dates gives sustained energy that lasts a lot longer than the false high of refined sugars. They contain so many vitamins & minerals and they are also safe and healthy to give to young children as an alternative to chocolates and other sugary sweets. My daughter loves dates and raisins and to her they are real treats, (thank God for that)! Fortunately for us dates come in endless varieties and they cost a lot less and are better quality than anywhere else in the world. There are shops that are dedicated to selling dates, plain dates, dates with nuts, chocolate covered dates etc.. The dates I used in this recipe are Omani dates which are very dark and very soft and their pits are so tiny (easily overlooked). They have a distinctive flavor that just melts in your mouth and they are good for baking because of their softness and sweetness and they limit the need for sugar.

Back to the book....I thought it included so many recipes that I would love to try, like the "Date Syrup Cheesecake" or the ever so simple yet brilliant "Baked Apples with Dates"! But the one that I kept coming back to is the "Cinnamon Date Soufflé", it sounded so simple, and a soufflé is always such an impressive dessert to offer guests. A recipe that looked like it would take 15 mins to make would be a life-saver when guests just drop by. I also love spices and some of my favorites are cardamom & cinnamon, and the recipe uses BOTH. So here is the recipe as it appears in the book. Personally, I prefer a more pronounced flavor with spices so I used whole cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks but the original recipe calls for ground spices.
Thanks Simone for giving me the opportunity to use this great book! (If interested in the book Dates by Jo Parfitt & Sue Valentine please check out the Zodiac Publishing website!)

serves four
I know people who won’t dare make a soufflé but this one is easy - really! JP

90g/3oz dates (stoned and chopped)
120ml/4fl oz milk
a few drops vanilla extract
pinch of cardamom
4 egg whites
pinch of cinnamon
120g/4oz plain low fat yoghurt
2 teaspoons date syrup
dash vanilla essence

oven 160°C/325°F/gas mark 4; medium soufflé dish (greased)

First make the sauce, mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Chill, covered, until required.
In a small saucepan, combine dates and milk and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer,
stirring occasionally, until the dates are soft and the mixture is creamy (7-8 minutes). Place the date mixture into the blender along with the vanilla and cinnamon and process on low speed until smooth.
Beat the egg whites and cinnamon together until stiff peaks form. Place the date mixture into a large bowl and gently fold in a quarter of the eggs to lighten the mixture then fold in the rest. Pour into soufflé dish and bake until puffed and golden brown (about 30 minutes).
Take to the table immediately, serving each portion with some date syrup yoghurt sauce.


Mary said...

Your souffles look so delicious. I'm a huge fan of both dates and cardamom. I will have to look and see if I can find this book over here.

Aran said...

Beuatiful photo. The recipe is unusual for me since I have never used yogurt in souffle before. Interesting... I'm intrigued now. My go to souffle recipe is a pate a choux base. Once again, gorgeous shots! Love those spoons too!

Bakerette said...

yes, I honestly had my doubts about it too. But it was an invitation so I really wanted to make something from the book. It turned out really great actually!

Marianna said...

Hi, I just discovered your blog through Tartelette actually. These soufflés look and sound amazing. It's not everyday you find cinnamon & date soufflés!! Very original, nice work. I am half Egyptian btw (dad's side).

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