Friday, December 25, 2009

Project 04: Butterscotch Budino with Sel Gris

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!


  1. your budino was the best way to end my pre-xmas dinner! i'm definitely a bigger fan of kahlua for dessert instead of rum, so nice alternative. the sea salt added a nice surprise crunch too. i gotta try bottega louie's version next!

  2. This looks good. Is there a non-alcoholic substitution for the dark rum or Kahlua? I don't consume alcohol.

  3. very nice dessert. i would like to try it but will find the substitute for dark rum too.

  4. Pauline: We need to do another Bottega Louie dinner stat! Craving their pork chops with homemade apple sauce...

    Memoria: It's fabulous even without alcohol—I know cause I kept licking my spoon throughout the cooking process, hee. If you want to kick it up a notch though, I would suggest maybe adding vanilla or vanilla bean paste (a teaspoon will do) or perhaps some freshly brewed espresso.

    Blogresipi: Bailey's would probably be a good match... let me know when you make it :)

  5. I'm going to try this in some small espresso cups. Thank you for the post it looks great.

  6. Oooh, the butterscotch budino is a great dessert. I've only been to the seated Mozza once (but to-go multiple times. yum!), but I ordered the Budino on account of the lack of chocolate desserts, and the fact that it is their specialty. Seems like an easy enough recipe, but I remember it being so rich that I don't think I'd be able to have a large batch in my kitchen, haha!

  7. Matteo: That's a great idea—was thinking you can pull it off The French Laundry style and serve it with a biscotti so it really looks like a espresso :)

    Wind Attack: Invite some friends over, they'll help you get rid of it in no time, hee.

  8. Whenever I'm in Los Angeles, I always have to go to Pizzeria Mozza. A burrata-squash blossom pizza, followed by the butterscotch budino put me in a blissful state like nothing else.

  9. Came here via Food Buzz today and love your blog! I've never even heard of this dessert, but it looks so beautiful and I love the switch of Kahlua for the brandy. I'm not even much of a sweets eater, but this looks like heaven!

  10. Dokuzuncubulut: Thanks, I'm thinking of making another batch and keeping them in jars so I can have them at any time :)

    Carolyn: Burrata & squash blossom? That sounds divine!

    Karen: It is like a little jar of bliss :) Thanks for visiting!


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