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2. Place the chopped dates in a bowl and cover with 250ml just-boiled water. Add 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, give it a quick stir and leave for 10 minutes. Meanwhile…
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into another bowl together with a further 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda. Set aside. Place the brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and set this aside too.
4. Place the butter and golden syrup in a small pan. Gently heat through, stirring, until the butter has melted. You don't need to get it too hot or for it to boil. Is 10 minutes up yet? Drain off those dates.
5. Pour the syrup'y butter mix over the brown sugar and stir with a metal spoon, removing any lumps as you go. Add the drained dates and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Stir.
6. Add half the flour mix and the eggs. Now gently stir to combine. Add the last half of the flour and – still gently – stir through again to combine.
7. Divide equally between the cases and bake in the oven for 18 minutes. Take them out of the oven and leave in their baking trays for a further 10-15 minutes. Then remove them from the trays and leave to cool on a wire rack for around 45 minutes.
8. Take each cupcake and a sharp knife. Cut a hollow out of the top of each cupcake, cutting a circle around the top and cutting down into a sort of small cone-shape, the knife heading towards the centre. Don't cut as far as the bottom though.
9. Once you've removed this central section, add a small spoonful of fully frozen vanilla ice-cream – chop the chunk of ice-cream to fit inside if you need to. You'll probably use just under a teaspoon or so.
10. Next you're going to put back the cone section that you just cut away. But before you do, to make sure there's room for the ice-cream, cut a little off across the thinner bottom of the cone sponge, removing a little bit of cake. Then place back as snugly as you can (feel free to press down a bit), hiding the ice cream secret!
11. Do this for each cake, replacing back into the muffin tray as you go. Then place the tray of cakes in the tin and in the freezer for at least one hour. You could though leave them over-night if you wanted….
12. 20 minutes before serving, pre-heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Around 5-10 minutes before serving, whisk the egg whites until they resemble soft white 'peaks' building up the speed as you go (far quicker and easier with an electric whisk). Gradually add the caster sugar, still whisking. You should still have soft white peaks.
13. Remove the cakes from the freezer, keeping them in the tray. Use a spoon to fully cover the tops of the cupcakes with the white meringue – or pipe it on with a nozzle for decorative effect. Bake in the oven for just 3 minutes. Carefully remove and serve immediately.