I may have mentioned it before but I’ll say it again caramel is my all time favorite dessert. Whether it’s in a sauce or in a bar, hard or soft, the buttery creamy lava is a winner for me. When I saw this recipe in Septembers Bon Appetit I knew I had to make it. The word “budino” is Italian for pudding and this would be the second layer in this four layer tower of delectation. The others being a chocolate cookie crust on the bottom followed by the budino which is topped by a rich golden salted caramel sauce and finally a dollop of whipped cream sits on top like the crema on a perfectly poured espresso.

The recipe takes a little bit of nurturing and careful stirring but the results are well worth it. I knew this would be a rich finish to an already amazing dinner we had so I made mini servings using glass candle jars which turned out to be the perfect size and also gave me the chance to still be eating this dessert three days later as there was so much leftover, no complaints there! This is also another dessert which screams to be made a day early to let the pudding set so if you have other courses to attend to you can feel safe knowing that you already have the dessert in the bag.

Here’s the recipe from Bon Appetit:

Cookie crust
1 Cup of finely chopped chocolate cookie crumbs
2 Tbsp melted butter
A tiny pinch of kosher salt

3 Cups whole milk divided
1/4 Cup cornstarch
3/4 Cup packed dark brown sugar
5 Large egg yolks
3 Tbsp melted butter
2 tsp dark rum
1 tsp kosher salt

Salted Caramel Sauce
3/4 Cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean split
1/2 Cup sugar
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
4 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Some lightly sweetened whipping cream

Mix cookie crumbs, butter and salt in a bowl. Set aside 2 tbsp for garnishing at the end. Press some of the cookie mix into the base of your chosen dishes, remember small is good as it’s very rich.

Whisk 1/2 cup of milk and the cornstarch  in a small bowl and set aside. Heat remaining 2 1/2 cups of milk just to a slight simmer and set aside. To make caramel, stir the brown sugar and 3/4 cup of water in a heavy pan over a medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and cook without stirring until a thermometer reads 210-220.
Whisk egg yolks in a bowl . Gradually whisk in hot milk very slowly and then cornstarch mixture followed by the caramel. Return mixture to the heat and whisk constantly over a medium heat until mixture thickens and the thermometer reads 175, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, rum and salt. Pour enough pudding mix over the cookie crust in each dish leaving about 2 inches from the top. Chill until set, can be made ahead.

For the salted caramel sauce- Place cream in a small jug and scrape in seeds from the vanilla bean, add the bean and set aside. Stir sugar, corn syrup and 2 Tbsp of water in a heavy pan over med heat and boil occasionally swirling the pan until a deep amber color appears, 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla cream (take out the bean if it’s still in there) . Whisk over a medium heat until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove and whisk in butter and salt. Let cool slightly.
when ready to serve spoon some of the sauce onto the pudding which should be jiggly and set, top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with some cookie crumbs saved from the beginning