Budino Cioccolato [Italian Rich Chocolate Pudding]
Budino cioccolato is an Italian dish with Iberian roots. The strong Portuguese influence is evident in the addition of cinnamon and chocolate to what is in essence flan, a classic Spanish dessert. How it became a staple of Italian cuisine is unknown.
This recipe makes for a scrumptious Passover dessert. It's also great for the holiday of Shavuot, observed as the birthday of the Torah, as the beauty of the Torah has been compared with the nourishment and sweetness of milk and honey.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- To make caramel, cook the sugar and water in a saucepan over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and caramelizes to a light golden brown.
- Immediately pour enough of the caramel into the bottom of a ramekin (4-ounce porcelain cup) or a 9-inch glass pie plate and then carefully rotate the cup or plate to coat the bottom and sides with the caramelized sugar. If using ramekins, repeat until another 5-7 cups are coated, keeping the pan of sugar over a very low flame so it won't harden before you're finished.
- Heat the milk, cinnamon stick, and chocolate in a small saucepan until the chocolate dissolves. Do not let the milk boil. Keep warm over a low flame.
- Beat the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a 2-quart bowl for 3 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
- Discard the cinnamon stick and then add the milk mixture to the egg mixture, beating constantly until they are thoroughly combined.
- Strain the mixture into a large pitcher and then carefully pour the custard into the prepared ramekins.
- Arrange the ramekins in a 13"x 9" pan and then pour boiling water into the pan. The water should come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the custard is firm and pulls away slightly from the sides (or a thin, sharp knife partially inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean).
- Remove from the water bath and cool. Before serving, invert the ramekins on a plate and allow the caramel sauce to coat the custard and plate.
- When caramelizing sugar, never stir the sugar mixture after the sugar has dissolved. Stirring can cause the thickened syrup to crystallize and form a sandy mass.
- Using a cinnamon stick steeped in liquid imparts the flavor of the spice without the grittiness of the powder.