My first encounter with budino – a creamy dessert akin to custard or pudding – was at Ottawa’s perennially popular town restaurant. It was a velvety-smooth chocolate budino, and one that inspired me to learn more about this tasty treat. This butterscotch version is based on a recipe from Los Angeles’ Pizzeria Mozza and it reminds me a lot of crème caramel as the not-too-sweet budino is complemented by the caramel sauce. You might think the portions appear small, but it’s actually very rich and makes the perfect sweet finish to any meal.
For the budino
1.5 cups heavy (35%) cream
¾ cup milk
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon dark rum
Method – for the budino
- Measure the cream and milk and set aside.
- Put the brown sugar, water and salt in a large heavy saucepan. Over medium heat, cook to a dark caramel colour, stirring occasionally at first then more often as the sauce caramelizes. Watch it carefully to prevent scorching. This step should take 10 – 15 minutes.
- Whisk the cream mixture carefully into the caramel (it will bubble up quite vigorously). Return the mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally. While cream and caramel mixture cooks, whisk the egg, egg yolk and cornstarch together in a bowl.
- Warm the egg mixture by adding ¼ cup of the caramel cream mixture to it, whisking constantly. Add another ½ cup of hot mixture to the eggs and whisk again.
- Pour the egg mixture back into the pot of caramel, stirring constantly with a whisk until the custard is very thick, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and rum.
- To remove any lumps, pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup.
- Divide custard among 8 (4-ounce) dessert bowls or ramekins (they should be about ¾ filled).
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill several at least 3 hours or up to three days.
For the caramel sauce
1/4 cup heavy (35%) cream
1/8 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1/8 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
¼ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon (approximately) fleur de sel
½ cup heavy (35%) cream, whipped
Method – for the caramel sauce and assembly
- Put the cream and vanilla in a medium-sized, heavy saucepan on medium heat.
- Warm until just beginning to simmer, about three minutes.
- Remove from heat; add the butter, stir, and set aside.
- Fill a large bowl (big enough to put a medium saucepan in) with cold water and ice cubes. Set aside.
- In another medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the corn syrup and sugar; add the water and cook over medium-high heat, swirling the pan just slightly to encourage even caramelization. After about 8 – 10 minutes, the sugar mixture should be a medium amber colour.
- Remove the caramel from heat and carefully whisk the cream mixture into it, being careful as it will bubble up. Whisk to combine.
- Place the pan in the bowl of ice water to cool it quickly. Pour the sauce into a jug or glass jar. Set aside until ready to serve. If making hours or even a day ahead, cover sauce and refrigerate. If refrigerated, at serving time, you will need to warm it gently in the microwave to soften it so you can pour it.
- To serve, pour about a tablespoon of caramel sauce over each budino. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of fleur de sel and top with a spoonful of whipped cream.
- Serves 8.