Being the inexperienced baker that I am, I’m always on the lookout for desserts that are naturally gluten-free. I’ve been dying to try out some sort of pudding or panna cotta for this site. And when it came time to design some sweets for your sweeties, the former just spoke to me.
I don’t really have a story behind this recipe, so I’m going to take this rare opportunity to actually get into the nitty gritty of the dish.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve curdled eggs in an attempt to temper them. So the fact that I successfully thickened this salted caramel budino on the first try should come as an extreme bode of confidence for all of you wary dessert makers. I found the recipe via Bon Appetit, but updated the directions and ingredient list a little bit to make it more streamlined.
One change I made was to add the egg mixture directly to the caramel in the pot, versus transferring the caramel to the mixing bowl with the eggs and then transferring it back to the pot. That just seemed unnecessary. But you should make sure that the sugar mixture and pot are cool enough before adding the eggs to keep it a curdle-free zone.
I did get a little bored while whisking, so I turned the heat up. When this happened, the mixture started to turn lumpy and I feared that I might need to run out for another carton of eggs. But I just whisked furiously and the mixture turned smooth again. Phew.
I used my wok to make everything because it was already in my drying rack and I was too lazy to get out a Dutch oven. But that turned out to be very fortuitous. I recommend using a larger pot or pan (with deep sides) so you don’t slosh cream all over your stove top. I also found that the sloped sides of my wok were perfect for whisking. I’d imagine in a saucepan or pot that you’d get some bits of pudding stuck in the crevices.
I wouldn’t recommend eating this budino every day, but what is the point of Valentine’s Day if not to eat our feelings in the form of heavy cream and caramel? I hope your loved ones enjoy it as much as I did. Next time I have to remember to share, for the sake of my arteries.
Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Budino with Whipped Cream
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ½ cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup heavy cream divided
- 1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse sea salt
- Chocolate shavings for serving
In a large saucepan, combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, water and fine sea salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture darkens and thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half and 1/2 cup of whipped cream until smooth.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and cornstarch until smooth. Add to the brown-sugar mixture in a slow, thin stream, whisking steadily. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens to the texture of pudding, about 5-7 minutes.
Divide the budino among four 8-ounce ramekins or glasses and sprinkle each with fleur de sel. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Whisk the remaining cream in a cold bowl (preferably metal) until thick.
Top the puddings a dollop of whipped cream and some chocolate shavings and serve.
If you’re making this as a Valentine’s Day dessert, make the full batch and enjoy the extra two puddings later in the week. They’ll keep for a few days in the fridge.