Weir Cooking in the City: Caramelized Chocolate Almond Budino

Serves: 12-16

You're wondering what a budino is, right? Budino is the Italian word for "custard" or "pudding." This one is incredibly rich and creamy, filled with almonds, chocolate, and Amaretti cookie crumbs. Amaretti cookies are available at any well-stocked market. You've probably seen them, but didn't know what they were. Often times they come in a brightly painted orange container. The cookies are wrapped individually in tissue paper and add a lot of flavor to this dessert!

• 1 3/4 cups sugar
• 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 3 cups milk
• 8 eggs
• 1 cup ground amaretti cookies (5 ounces)
• 1/2 cup finely ground toasted almonds
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• Boiling water for the pan

In a large heavy stainless steel frying pan over medium heat, melt 1 cup of the sugar. Do not use a spoon, instead swirl the pan to melt the sugar uniformly. Cook until the sugar starts to turn golden brown or caramel color. Immediately remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a 9-inch round cake pan. Turn the pan to coat the bottom and sides. Set aside.

Crack the eggs into a bowl. Add 3/4 cup sugar to the eggs and whisk.

In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate. In a large saucepan, scald the milk and add the chocolate, whisking constantly.

Add the chocolate and milk slowly to the egg and sugar mixture while whisking. This gradual process is called tempering which prevents the eggs from cooking.

In a bowl, stir together the amaretti crumbs, almonds, and flour. Add to the chocolate mixture and whisk together until mixed.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Pour the custard-mixture into the caramel lined pan and place in a larger baking pan. Pour in enough boiling water to come 1 inch up the sides of the cake pan. Bake in the oven until set, 65 to 75 minutes.

Remove the custard from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Invert the budino onto a serving plate.

Recipe ©2004 Joanne Weir from Weir Cooking in the City, reprinted by permission.