Dates are so deeply sweet and candy-like, they’re practically dessert all on their own. My husband, however, would never buy into this truth. So, I duped him by bringing caramel cream and cookies to the party—the latter almost always does the trick. This is a luxurious way to end a meal on a cold winter night. But don’t be too fooled: The soft, chewy dates are the star here, though piling them onto a little creamy decadence absolutely doesn’t hurt.
Earl Grey-Poached Dates Over Caramel Crème Fraîche
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups water divided
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cubed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Earl Grey tea bags or 2 teaspoons loose Earl Grey tea
- 12 Medjool dates halved lengthwise and pitted
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 6 gingersnap cookies crushed
- Add sugar, 1⁄4 cup of water, and flaky sea salt to a medium saucepan over medium heat and swirl occasionally until sugar dissolves and mixture is clear, glossy, and just beginning to bubble, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, undisturbed, until sugar begins to turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Swirl gently a few times to ensure sugar is cooking evenly and continue cooking until sugar is dark amber, about 1 minute more. Immediately remove pan from heat and very carefully (mixture will bubble up aggressively) whisk in crème fraîche until smooth. Add butter and vanilla and whisk until butter has melted and caramel is smooth. Pour into a medium heatproof bowl and transfer to refrigerator, stirring occasionally to hasten cooling, and chill until at least room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- Boil 1 cup water in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat, add tea, and steep for 5 minutes. Discard tea bags or, if using loose tea, strain through a sieve, discard leaves, and return tea to the saucepan.
- Bring tea to a boil over high heat, add dates, reduce heat to medium- low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until dates have plumped and liquid has reduced by over half, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Once caramel is no longer warm, pour heavy cream into a large bowl and beat on medium-high until soft peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes. Gently fold in caramel until just combined.
- Divide caramel whipped cream mixture among 4 shallow dessert bowls or plates. Use a slotted spoon to divide poached dates among bowls. If there is any poaching liquid left in the saucepan, drizzle a bit over dates. Sprinkle with crushed gingersnaps and garnish with a pinch of flaky sea salt.