For Valentine’s Day, I will offer to make my wife dessert, buy her some flowers, and we’ll prepare a nice dinner together. I generally despise the idea of the holiday, so I think this is a good compromise to enjoy it.
For dessert, my thinking was all over the map, and my wife wouldn’t commit to her typical chocolate cake with chocolate frosting request. My office holiday party was at Barbuzzo Mediterranean Kitchen & Bar in Philadelphia, where they served us salted caramel budinos for dessert. They were delicious, so I sought a recipe to make for a special occasion. I found one on the Bon Appetit website, contributed by the actual chef of the restaurant!
I ended up only making three budinos (the recipe called for eight), so we had a lot of budino in these 12 oz. glasses. This may have been the reason the budino was not as custardy as I wanted, probably requiring more chilling. I think next time I could easily expand the count to six. I also substituted the rum in the original recipe for bourbon because that’s what I had. I’m not a fan of alcohol in dessert recipes (especially if not cooked), but the bourbon flavor was fantastic here.
My wife said that between this dessert and the salted caramel frosting I have salted caramel on lock-down. Winner winner, chicken dinner.
1 cup (~20 cookies) Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, finely ground into crumbs
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
3 cups whole milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup (150 g) dark brown sugar
3/4 cup cold water
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. bourbon whiskey
1 tsp. kosher salt
Salted Caramel Sauce:
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 tbsp. cold water
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. powdered sugar
- For the Cookie Crust: Mix cookie crumbs, butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Divide and press into eight 8 oz. jars/ramekins, reserving crumbs for topping. Set aside.
- For the Budino: Whisk cornstarch into 1/2 cup of milk in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat remaining milk in a small saucepan to a simmer. Set aside.
- Stir sugar and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, then increase heat to medium-high, cooking without stirring until temperature is 210-220° F. Set aside.
- Line a sieve with cheesecloth and set over a large bowl.
- Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl, gradually whisking in the hot milk, then the cornstarch mixture, and finally (and slowly) the caramel.
- Return mixture to saucepan and whisk over medium heat until temperature is 175° F.
- Remove from heat, then whisk in butter, bourbon, and salt. Pour mixture through prepared sieve and allow to cool.
- Pour 1/2 cup of the budino over the crust in each jar, cover, and chill until set (4-5 hours).
- For the Salted Caramel Sauce: While budino is chilling, place cream into a small cup. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean, then add seeds and bean to cream. Set aside.
- Once budino has chilled, strain vanilla cream into separate cup. Set aside.
- Stir sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then increase heat to medium-high. Boil, occasionally swirling, until mixture is a deep amber color (5-6 minutes).
- Remove from heat, add vanilla cream (mixture will bubble rapidly), then return to medium heat to thicken (~2 minutes).
- Remove from heat, then add butter and salt. Allow to cool.
- For the Whipped Cream: Whip cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar with hand mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Assembly: Spoon 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce over each budino, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle some of the reserved cookie crumbs.