While I've never had the privilege of dining at Pizzeria Mozza due to time constraints (there's simply too many restaurants to try and not enough time!), I did try one of their offerings: the butterscotch budino. It was inconspicuously listed in the dessert menu at Bottega Louie, to which I immediately ordered.
It looked innocent enough, a tiny glass filled with a khaki-colored pudding, a thin layer of caramel and topped with whipped cream. And yet, it had the ability to transform my dining companion and me into ravenous animals—despite the fact we were stuffed from dinner already. The custardy pudding was complex with a full-bodied caramelized flavor and was luxuriously smooth, but the main show stopper was the delicate sea salt that was hidden from view by the whipped cream and caramel. It gave each bite a little crunch and a burst of saltiness that cuts through the dessert's sweetness. It was the stuff that dreams were made of.
Since then, I've been pining over the budino—until I found the recipe online in New York Times. Adapted from Dahlia Narvaez of Pizzeria Mozza, this was the real deal! Since the recipe serves 10, I made it for my friends' pre-Christmas party.
I'm happy to report that the recipe is straightforward and the results divine. I did made several changes as I am not good in following directions (I failed first grade P.E. because of it—it was strangely similar to Zoolander's situation where he couldn't make a left turn).
The first alternation is that I only used 1/2 of a teaspoon of kosher salt since the recommended 1 1/2 teaspoon was too much for my taste (it gave the caramel a soy sauce flavor, no joke). Also, because I had no dark rum, I used Kahlua instead and upped it to 1/4 of a cup. It gave the budino a rich coffee flavor—that little something extra that took it to the next level.
I've also switched the fleur de sel for sel gris as I like its larger crystals (ie. greater crunch). And lastly I omitted the cream topping due to my conscience. You see, if you read the entire recipe, you'll see that it has around 4 cups of cream and a stick of butter—I couldn't in my right conscience add more cream on top of it to my friends. In addition, I made the serving size smaller by serving the budino in double shot glasses. My friends loved it.
Give the recipe a try and let me know how it compares to Pizzeria Mozza's version!