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WHAT SHE'S HAVING

Recipe: Italian chocolate budino from New York’s Il Buco restaurant are immensely pleasing little puddings

Chocolate Budino.
Chocolate Budino.Sheryl Julian

Makes 7

Part of this Italian chocolate pudding from "Il Buco Stories & Recipes" involves making caramel, for which you need a heavy-based saucepan. Give it time to turn golden brown, then pour in a mixture of hot cream and milk. Bittersweet chocolate goes in next, and though it melts, it may not completely emulsify. You can strain out the chocolate bits, or leave them in. Then you add egg yolks, ladle the mixture into large ramekins, and bake them in a water bath. When they cool, the puddings have a two-layer texture: custard on the bottom that thickens as it cools, but doesn't turn firm, and a layer of chocolate on top that has a slight brownie texture. The puddings are immensely appealing. Spoon on creme fraiche or whipped cream before serving.

Butter (for the ramekins or cups)
2cups whole milk
cups heavy cream
2teaspoons instant espresso powder
½teaspoon salt
½ vanilla bean
1cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2tablespoons water
ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 egg yolks

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter 7 ramekins or custard cups (6-ounce or 3/4 cup capacity each). Set them in a roasting pan large enough to hold them with space around them. You'll also need hot water to pour around the cups before you bake them so put on a tea kettle of water (it doesn't have to come quite to a boil).

2. In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream, espresso powder, and salt. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture has a bubble or two at the edges. Remove from the heat. Lift out the vanilla bean. (Later, rinse it, let it dry, and store in your sugar canister.)

3. In another heavy-based saucepan over low heat, heat 2/3 cup of the sugar with the water, without stirring, but shaking the pan a little, until it dissolves. Turn up the heat slightly and continue cooking until it turns a golden caramel color. This can take 6 to 8 minutes. If the edges of the sugar start to brown but the middle is pale, pick up the pan and shake it slightly, but do not stir, to mix the brown edges with the center.

4. Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the caramel -- it will bubble vigorously -- and continue whisking over medium-low heat until the caramel dissolves.

5. Whisk in the chocolate. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until it melts completely. Remove from the heat. (You may see flecks of chocolate, which you can strain out, if you like, or leave them in.)

6. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons until blended. Slowly whisk 1 cup of the hot chocolate mixture into the yolks, then stir this mixture into the saucepan until smooth.

7. Ladle the mixture into the 7 cups. Pour enough hot water around the cups to come halfway up the sides. Cover the cups with a sheet of foil.

8. Transfer to the oven and bake for 70 minutes, or until the puddings are just set. Remove the pan from the oven and leave to cool. Remove the cups from the pan, wipe the bottoms, and chill. Serve with creme fraiche or whipped cream.

Sheryl Julian. Adapted from "Il Buco: Stories & Recipes"

Makes 7

Part of this Italian chocolate pudding from "Il Buco Stories & Recipes" involves making caramel, for which you need a heavy-based saucepan. Give it time to turn golden brown, then pour in a mixture of hot cream and milk. Bittersweet chocolate goes in next, and though it melts, it may not completely emulsify. You can strain out the chocolate bits, or leave them in. Then you add egg yolks, ladle the mixture into large ramekins, and bake them in a water bath. When they cool, the puddings have a two-layer texture: custard on the bottom that thickens as it cools, but doesn't turn firm, and a layer of chocolate on top that has a slight brownie texture. The puddings are immensely appealing. Spoon on creme fraiche or whipped cream before serving.

Butter (for the ramekins or cups)
2cups whole milk
cups heavy cream
2teaspoons instant espresso powder
½teaspoon salt
½ vanilla bean
1cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2tablespoons water
ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 egg yolks

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter 7 ramekins or custard cups (6-ounce or 3/4 cup capacity each). Set them in a roasting pan large enough to hold them with space around them. You'll also need hot water to pour around the cups before you bake them so put on a tea kettle of water (it doesn't have to come quite to a boil).

2. In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream, espresso powder, and salt. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture has a bubble or two at the edges. Remove from the heat. Lift out the vanilla bean. (Later, rinse it, let it dry, and store in your sugar canister.)

3. In another heavy-based saucepan over low heat, heat 2/3 cup of the sugar with the water, without stirring, but shaking the pan a little, until it dissolves. Turn up the heat slightly and continue cooking until it turns a golden caramel color. This can take 6 to 8 minutes. If the edges of the sugar start to brown but the middle is pale, pick up the pan and shake it slightly, but do not stir, to mix the brown edges with the center.

4. Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the caramel -- it will bubble vigorously -- and continue whisking over medium-low heat until the caramel dissolves.

5. Whisk in the chocolate. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until it melts completely. Remove from the heat. (You may see flecks of chocolate, which you can strain out, if you like, or leave them in.)

6. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons until blended. Slowly whisk 1 cup of the hot chocolate mixture into the yolks, then stir this mixture into the saucepan until smooth.

7. Ladle the mixture into the 7 cups. Pour enough hot water around the cups to come halfway up the sides. Cover the cups with a sheet of foil.

8. Transfer to the oven and bake for 70 minutes, or until the puddings are just set. Remove the pan from the oven and leave to cool. Remove the cups from the pan, wipe the bottoms, and chill. Serve with creme fraiche or whipped cream.Sheryl Julian. Adapted from "Il Buco: Stories & Recipes"


Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.