I'm not sure what funky setting I had my camera on when I took this shot. I've been trying to learn how to use the more advanced settings on my camera but fear I am not destined to become one of the great photographers of our time. These are good muffins (I've had my fair share at breakfast this week) and whenever I eat or make them I will be reminded of the NorthWest Passage. "Of course!" you're thinking. "The NorthWest Passage and oatmeal date muffins are like peanut butter and jelly." Allow me to explain.
Part of the reason I like baking and cooking so much is that we have an open concept kitchen and family room. So when I'm in the kitchen, chances are the rest of the family is close by. On Sunday the boys were occupied with something or other in the library, and it was actually quiet in the kitchen area. So I decided to turn on the TV and watch something while I was baking. Something that wasn't YTV or Treehouse, which are generally the only channels in our house that are on when the boys are in the vicinity of the TV. After browsing around for a bit I settled on a documentary called "Journey to the edge of the world" which follows Scottish actor/comedian Billy Connolly on a 10 week trip through Canada via the (infrequently travelled) NorthWest Passage.
As is typical at our house, as soon as the boys heard the TV come to life they ran in to see what I was watching. I figured they would scamper back on their way once they figured out I wasn't watching Spongebob or Mater's Tall Tales. I was surprised when my oldest son stood and watched intently while BC explained his goal; to see a part of the world few have or will ever see, to travel the fabled NorthWest passage from Atlantic Canada all the way to Pacific Canada. D. stood transfixed, watching the entire first episode then sat down when I put on the second. By the time we finished the third episode, the muffins were long done and all four of us were on the couch, seeing our own country in a way none of us had before. It was a great way to spend the afternoon: muffins and a movie.
The dates used in these Oatmeal Date muffins are the last of a tub-full that have been lingering in my pantry since mid-December when I made our traditional Christmas treat of Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce. I first made this in 2004 and it's the only recipe my husband has ever told me not to lose. The cake is great, but the sauce makes it truly special. Like, lick the plate special. I found the recipe in a Canadian Living Holiday Baking magazine but I was able to find it here as well, thanks to Dalvay by the Sea Inn and Restaurant (PEI) who are credited with the recipe.
Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce
Pudding2 1/2 cups dates
2 3/4 cups water
2 l/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground ginger
Place dates and water in a pot and boil until softened. Add the baking soda to the date mixture set aside for 15-20 minutes.
Cream the butter and sugar together, add eggs one at a time.
Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter mixture. Add the dates to the batter and mix till combined.
Pour into parchment-lined 9x13 inch pan, place pan in a water bath and bake at 350 F for 75-90 minutes.
Sauce1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
Mix all together, bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes until sugar breaks down.
Serve warm with French vanilla ice cream.