FOR THE PUDDINGS:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus more for greasing
1/4 cup/55 grams pitted, chopped dates
3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup/55 grams dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup/65 grams all-purpose flour
Flaky sea salt, for serving
Crème fraîche, sour cream or plain yogurt, for serving
FOR THE SAUCE:
1/4 cups/55 grams dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Large pinch of fine sea salt
1/4 cup/55 grams unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cubed
1 tablespoon bourbon or brandy (Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 (8-ounce) ramekins or a small, shallow gratin dish with a 2- to 3-cup capacity (see Note).
Prepare the puddings: In a large, heatproof bowl, combine the dates, butter, lemon zest and baking soda. Stir in the boiling water. Let sit for 10 minutes or until cool.
Whisk in pumpkin purée, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and fine sea salt until well combined, then whisk in the flour.
Scrape batter into the prepared ramekins and bake until just firm when pressed in the center, 28 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack until ready to serve. (Pudding can be baked up to 8 hours ahead.)
Prepare the sauce: In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the sugar, pumpkin puree, heavy cream and salt. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the butter, and bourbon (if using). If the sauce separates, use an immersion or regular blender to blend it together.
Just before serving, heat the broiler. Pour a little of the sauce over each pudding. Broil until the puddings bubble, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle tops with flaky sea salt, and serve at once, with more sauce and crème fraîche dolloped on top.
If your ramekins hold less than 1 cup (8 ounces) each, you can divide the batter among 3 or 4 of them and reduce the baking time. This recipe makes two very substantial servings, with leftovers. You can also double or triple the recipe. If doubling, bake in an 8-inch pan; if tripling, use a 9-inch pan. If you make any of these adjustments, start checking for doneness after 20 minutes.