Go ahead, Cupid! Hit me with your best shot! Fire Away! With everyone no doubt gearing up for the day of days for lovers, I ruminated over what I might offer for dessert for my “special Valentine”! I just could not bring myself to the obligatory altar of chocolate this year. I wanted something different – unexpected – but with some of the same properties found in chocolate desserts: richness, density, velvet texture, pleasurable sweetness, possibly seductive, lovely on the plate, and with a little “wow”. There I was flying high without a net in a sea of amazing dessert possibilities, when Cupid flew in, not with an arrow, but instead, with a tiny silken parachute called BUDINO. Not just any Budino but Lemon-Strawberry Budino! BOOYAH!
What exactly is Budino and why am I so excited about it? Budino is pudding in Italian. Pudding? OK – where’s the hook? Unlike the pudding we’re accustomed to here in the US of A, Budino is much richer and more dense. It can and sometimes does literally stand up on it’s own depending on the recipe. There are so many recipes and types of Budino. Some are custardy – some are cakelike – somewhat like flourless chocolate cake. There is one rather famous Butterscotch Budino made by pastry chef, Dahlia Narvaez, at Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles. It is perhaps the most talked about and revered among those who know Budino. Many would aspire to emulate it.
Lemon-Strawberry Budino came to me while meandering through sweet thoughts of favorite flavors and dreams of some wonderful surprise with which to end the perfect “lover’s meal”. By this time, it can be no secret that lemons are high on my list of favorite ingredients – must be that proximity of Napoletana genes to the beautiful lemon trees that dot the Campania terrain. I do also love strawberries in their vivid red which seem to always remind us of love and Valentine’s Day.
So there you have it! Lemon – Strawberries – and the richest texture of velvet on the tongue. What could be better for a grand finale to an intimate meal for two… or maybe 6? As if we needed any more nudging – this dessert is simple, with few ingredients, takes no time at all to make, and can be made ahead.
Different versions of Budino are currently being served in the finest Italian restaurants – so you can serve this one with pride. Now, put on your red shoes, girls,—and guys, you can just relax – this recipe you can make in minutes and look like a hero…or heroine!
Butter 6 ramekins (Ramekins – small fluted souffle dishes – or baking custard cups can be purchased in grocery stores and stores that carry kitchen supplies like Target, Bed Bath and Beyond)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 Egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. Lemon Zest
Fresh Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tsp. Lemon Extract
1/2 cup Crushed Lemon Wafer Cookies (about 10-12)
1 c. Heavy cream
1/2 c. whole milk
1 c. Chopped fresh strawberries
Makes about 6 ramekins (or custard cups) – or can use a large quiche plate and do one
Whisk together: eggs, egg yolks, sugar, salt
Add: Lemon juice, zest, extract – whisk again
Add lemon wafer crumbs – mix well
Add cream and milk – mix
Pour mixture into ramekins – fill about 2/3 full.
Make sure you get strawberries and crumbs into each dish. You might want to stir the mixture as you go. Place ramekins into a baking pan a couple of inches deep. Fill pan with hot water so it goes about an inch up the sides of ramekins.
Carefully place pan in oven and bake the puddings in the water bath at 350 for about 40 min. Budino should be firm in the middle when touched. Carefully remove the pan when done. Remove ramekins to cool. Cool completely.
Now you can decide whether to unmold to serve or to serve in the little cups which is the easiest way. See the baked Budino.
If you serve from the ramekin – I suggest placing it on a small plate with a toasted almond garnish and a strawberry on top. See the fanned strawberry – easy to do. Just partially slice the berry about 4 times vertically not going all the way through and fan it out.
If you want to get a little fancier and unmold it – the Budino must be completely cool. Slide a butter knife inside all around the pudding a few times gently nudging it. Invert onto plate. If it is stubborn – just repeat circling with the butter knife and nudging it out. If it unmolds and a little is left in the ramekin – don’t worry – spoon it on top. You are going to put a strawberry on top and no one will see it!
I suggest garnishing with toasted sliced or slivered almonds and some grated lemon zest. That fanned strawberry on the top is so lovely – A little whipped cream if you like.
In addition, I suggest serving a small glass of Limoncello with this dessert. It compliments the Lemon –Strawberry Budino beautifully.
They’re gonna love you!
Parla Come Mangi!
Also: See the RECIPE OF THE MONTH on LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE!
Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography