This is probably one of the most difficult desserts I have ever made. I think I read the recipe about 30 times. Having said that, it is probably one of the best desserts I have ever eaten. It takes you to a place that you never dreamed existed. I’m not kidding. I am catering a small lunch today and decided to bite the bullet and attempt to make it. I first had this dessert at Mozza in Los Angeles several years ago. It is also the favorite of many prominent chefs.
Pizzeria Mozza; Osteria Mozza
“A budino is really just a pudding. But this budino, with its deep buttery-caramel flavor and thick, velvety texture is enough to make an Italian chef’s eyes light up. Imagine what it will do for your guests!” –Nancy Silverton
Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce and Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies
1 cup plus 2 Tbs dark brown sugar
½ cup water
1½ tsp kosher salt
3 cups heavy cream
1½ cups milk
3 egg yolks
5 Tbs cornstarch
5 Tbs butter
1½ Tbs dark rum
Rosemary–Pine Nut Cookies:
3 Tbs heavy cream
1 Tbs plus 1½ tsp honey
1 Tbs plus 1½ tsp sugar
1 Tbs plus 1½ tsp all-purpose flour, sifted
¼ vanilla bean, scraped
1 Tbs plus ½ cup butter, divided
½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 sprigs of rosemary
¼ cup plus 2 Tbs powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup plus 2 Tbs pastry flour
¼ cup cornmeal or polenta
½ cup heavy cream
1/8 vanilla bean, scraped
2 Tbs butter
½ cup sugar
2 Tbs corn syrup
2 Tbs water
¼ cup whipping cream
¾ cup crème fraîche
1¼ tsp fleur de sel
To prepare the budino
Combine the brown sugar, water, and salt in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Cook to a smoking, dark caramel, about 10 to 12 minutes. (The sugar will smell caramelized and nutty and turn a deep brown.)
Immediately whisk the cream and milk into the caramel to stop the cooking. The mixture will steam and the caramel will seize, but will become smooth again as you whisk. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Temper the hot caramel cream into the egg mixture by adding a cup of caramel at a time, whisking constantly. When half the caramel is incorporated, pour the egg mixture back into the remaining caramel, and boil while whisking constantly until the custard is very thick, about 2 minutes. Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and rum. Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps and divide among ten 6-ounce ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours, or up to 3 days.
To prepare the rosemary–pine nut cookies
Place the cream, honey, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over high heat, stirring only once to ensure even cooking, until the mixture reaches 230º F on a candy thermometer. Take off the heat and whisk in the all-purpose flour. Pour the mixture into a bowl and fold in the pine nuts and 1 of the rosemary sprigs. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary sprig. (This mixture can be made in advance, and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Bring it to room temperature before rolling out the cookies.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup butter and the powdered sugar until it is creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until combined. Add the flour and polenta and mix until combined. The dough will be soft. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap the disk in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350º F. On a well-floured surface, roll out the cookie dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut out circles of dough using a 1 1/4–inch round cutter. Place the circles of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Work the pine nut mixture between your fingers, creating a thin disk about the size of a dime. Place the circle on a cut-out cookie and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs, about three leaves for each cookie. Once all of the cookies are finished and garnished, bake them for about 15 minutes until they are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
To prepare the caramel sauce
Heat the cream and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Add the butter, turn off the heat, and set aside. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling the pan just slightly to gauge the caramelization, until the sugar becomes a medium amber color, about 10 minutes. Remove the caramel from heat and carefully whisk the cream mixture into the caramel. Be very careful—the caramel will steam and bubble. Whisk to combine. Place the pan in a large bowl of ice water to cool.
Whip the whipping cream in a chilled medium bowl until it begins to thicken. Add the crème fraîche and beat until thick and fluffy. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the warm caramel sauce onto each budino, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of fleur de sel, and add a dollop of whipped cream. Serve with a few cookies on the side.