1: Grease a 30 x 25cm baking tin, at least 5cm deep, and line with baking parchment.
2: Put the dates into a heatproof bowl. In a small pan, bring the rum and water to the boil, then pour over the dates. Stir, then cover and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas 5.
3: Put the suet and sugar into a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mixed spice to the bowl then sift over the flour and bicarbonate of soda; fold into the mixture until nearly combined. Add the dates with their liquor and mix to combine.
4: Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging.
5: Meanwhile, to prepare the caramel, tip the coconut milk into a heavy-based non-stick saucepan and whisk until smooth. Bring to the boil over a high heat and boil rapidly, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes until reduced and starting to thicken. Sprinkle in the sugar and whisk well. (Reheat before serving if necessary.)
6: Once the pudding is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm, trickled with hot coconut caramel and sprinkled with toasted coconut flakes.