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Christmas Inspired Sticky Toffee Pudding

This makes a perfect alternative Christmas pudding. It's so quick to do and sits nicely in a warm oven (about 100) for a good hour waiting to be dished up. I serve with ice-cream but it would be so good with brandy cream.
100g dates or prunes
100g mincemeat
*2 Tbsp of mixed peel paste 
70g unsalted butter, softened
175g soft brown sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 large eggs, beaten
200g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the toffee sauce:
150g soft dark brown sugar
100g unsalted butter
250ml double cream    
Zest of 2 clementines         

You will also need a 23cm square baking tin, buttered and lined with buttered baking parchment.         

Preheat the oven to 180 

Tip the dates or prunes, peel paste and mincemeat into a pan and pour over 250ml of boiling water, heat on a medium heat for 8 mins.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a free-standing mixer until light and fluffy. 
Slowly and add the syrup and beaten eggs and mix well to combine. Sieve the flour into bowl and mix again until smooth.

Add the bicarbonate of soda to the fruits and water mixture and using a hand-held blender or food processor whiz to a puree. Fold into the batter and spoon into the prepared tin. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 40 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the pudding comes out clean. 

Meanwhile prepare the toffee sauce. Put all of the ingredients into a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until everything is melted and well combined. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 seconds to one minute. 

Cut the edges from the pudding place back into the dish and pour over the sauce, cover with foil and keep warm until you're ready to serve.

*For mixed peel paste blend a pot of mixed peel with 2 Tbsp of boiling water until you have a paste, transfer into a sterile jar and store in the fridge. 

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