This chocolate budino was a curious recipe to develop. I have long been a fan of flourless chocolate recipes. In my youth, I worked in a restaurant that served a wonderful chocolate mousse. Light and smooth with a dense rich chocolate flavor. If you were lucky enough to get the job of transferring the large batch of mousse into smaller containers your prize was to enjoy the remaining mousse on the spatula and bottom of the giant tub.
After visiting french bakeries and then actually going to France my taste turned to the even more rich and delicious chocolate Pot de Creme, I’m torn between the classic Pot de Creme and the chocolate budino. When I first had budino in a restaurant it stayed on my mind for a long time but when I finally looked up a recipe to try to prepare it at home I found that this desert is a bit of a mystery.
Budino is Italian for pudding. Just as there are many ways to make an American pudding so it seems there are many ways to make budino. Some have flour, some corn starch, some baked, some unbaked. The pudding recipes I found were mostly chocolate or salted caramel but I also found recipes for lemon budino and budino-filled tarts and cakes.
So, this is my rendition of a chocolate budino. I start with the best quality chocolate I can afford with 70% cocoa. It’s not fussy or difficult, but it is important to temper the milk and eggs slowly so the end result is a satiny smooth chocolate. I top the finished dessert with a thin layer of caramel sauce, a sprinkle of sea salt and a few cocoa nibs. Cocoa nibs are the outer shell of the cocoa plant. Alone, they look chocolaty but do not actually have much flavor. What they add to this dessert is a lovely crunch that balances the thick sweet creamy chocolate budino. (It’s just more fun to say than pudding.)
Chocolate Budino with Caramel and Cocoa Nibs
For the Budino
- 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao), coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
For the garnish
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, preferably gray
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Cocoa nibs
- Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
- Combine the bittersweet and milk chocolates in a heatproof bowl, place over (not touching) barely simmering water in a pot, and leave to melt.
- Meanwhile, warm the milk in a small pot over medium heat, just until it begins to simmer.
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, and then gradually and SLOWLY whisk in the warm milk. You don’t want to cook the eggs so stir constantly and slowly add the (just warm, not scalding) cream.
- When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and stir until smooth.
- Strain the egg-yolk mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the melted chocolate and stir until combined.
- In a small pot, heat 1 cup of the cream over medium heat, just until it begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and slowly stir the warm cream into the chocolate mixture. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream.
- Pour the chocolate mixture into eight 1-cup ramekins or small heatproof glass jars and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place the pan into a larger baking pan and pour warm tap water into the larger pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake the filling for 40 minutes, or until the edges appear set but the center is loose and a bit runny.
Finish each tart with a generous drizzle of caramel sauce, sprinkle the top of each with cocoa nibs and about 1/8 teaspoon of the sea salt.