In a saucepan, bring all the ingredients to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a saucepan, bring the water and dates to a boil. Add 1/4 tsp (1 ml) of the baking soda and mix thoroughly. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a bowl, combine the flour and the remaining 3/4 tsp (4 ml) of baking soda.
In another bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. On low speed, add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Stir in the date mixture.
Spread the batter in the slow cooker. Pour half the caramel sauce over the batter. Place a clean cloth over the slow cooker, making sure it does not touch the batter, and cover with the lid. Cook on low for 3 hours. With a skewer, pierce holes all over the surface of the cake and drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce. Continue cooking for 15 minutes, uncovered. Serve hot or warm.
Can be maintained on Warm for up to 2 hours.
Recipes with the "Healthy Pick" stamp have been evaluated by a registered dietitian member of the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec.