Let’s face it… the Italian name for anything just sounds better, si? Case in point – Butterscotch Budino versus Butterscotch Pudding… precisely.
It seems that almost every cook in North America has made this iconic Butterscotch Budino by Nancy Silverton at some stage! I doubt, on the other hand, that anyone else in New Zealand has, so I had no qualms at all about jumping on the band-wagon. And, I have to admit, that I read so many rave reviews about this pudding that I had to make it to see if all the hype was justified.
The recipe (found on James Beard.org) was easy enough to follow – the only challenge being that you have to make a caramel… twice. Now, I’m a dab hand at making caramel these days, but making a caramel with dark brown sugar is pretty darn tricky. You don’t have the usual visual cues of the mixture turning brown. And, if you use dark muscovado sugar as I did, it’s even worse. If you can’t see the change, then you’re meant to rely on your nose and smell it as it caramelizes. But, given dark muscovado sugar already smells like caramel that was hardly helpful either! To be honest I wasn’t entirely sure when it was ready (LOL), but I figured I’d err on the side of caution rather than burn it.
As it turns out, I needn’t have worried – the end result was fantastico. A deeply smoky, surprisingly un-sweet, caramel custard topped with a rich buttery caramel sauce, flecks of crunchy salt and a dollop of smooth, soured cream. A spoonful of this, with its combination of sweet, sour, salty and bitter notes, leaves your taste-buds zinging. Not bad for a simple pudding and yes, as it turns out, worthy of all the hype.
Now, just a couple of notes: This is a great pudding to make ahead of time – I made both the custard and the caramel topping the day before and kept them refrigerated. Then I simply whipped up the cream at serving time. Secondly, the original recipe pairs the budino with rosemary & pinenut cookies. I personally didn’t make them, however if you want to, just refer to the original recipe via the link above. Enough said.. go try this baby out!
For the Butterscotch Budino
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp dark brown sugar (I used dark muscovado sugar)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 egg
- 3 egg yolks
- 5 tbsp cornstarch (cornflour)
- 5 tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 tbsp dark rum
For the Caramel Sauce
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 of a large vanilla bean (scraped)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp corn syrup (or glucose syrup)
- 2 tbsp water
For the Topping
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 3/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1 1/4 tsp fleur de sel (I used Maldon sea salt flakes)
For 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 about a 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 (if you’re using glass dishes, you’ll need to let the custard cool down sufficiently before straining and spooning into the glasses). Cover with plastic wrap (gently lay the wrap over the surface of the pudding – this will ensure it doesn’t develop a skin) and chill for several hours, or up to 3 days (the custard will thicken further as it chills).
For the caramel sauce:
- Beat the cream and vanilla (pod and seeds) 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 (remove the pod first) 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. You can store this in the fridge if you want to make this ahead. When you’re ready to serve, simply microwave it for 20 seconds or so to warm it up.
- To serve, whip the whipping cream in a chilled medium bowl until it begins to thicken. Add the crème fraiche and beat until thick and fluffy. Spoon 1 tablespoon (or 2 tablespoons if you’re making 6 larger portions) of the warm caramel sauce onto each budino, sprinkle with a little of the fleur de sel, and add a dollop of the whipped cream/creme fraiche mixture.