Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce
A budino is really just a pudding, says Nancy, but something about the addition of caramel and the surprising salty crunch of Maldon salt makes a classic American butterscotch pudding taste wonderfully Italian - especially when you serve it with butter rosemary-pine nut cookies.
To make the Budino: In a large bowl, combine the cram and milk and set aside.
In a large, heavy pot, combine the brown sugar, water, and salt and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally to keep the mixture from scorching, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the mixture is a deep brown and smells nutty and caramelized. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk the cream mixture into the caramelized sugar to stop the cooking. The mixture will steam vigorously and the sugar will seize. Use caution to keep from getting burned by the bubbling mixture. Whisk until smooth and the caramel is fully incorporated. Return to high heat, bring to a boil, and then turn off the heat.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. While whisking constantly, add about half of the caramel cream, 1/2 cup at a time, to the egg mixture. Pour the combined mixtures back into the saucepan holding the remaining caramel cream and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 2 minutes, or until a very thick custard forms.
Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and rum. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into ten 3/4-cup ramekins or glasses, dividing it evenly and filling to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until well chilled, or for up to 3 days.
To make the caramel sauce, pour the cream into a small saucepan. With the tip of a knife, scrape the seeds from the split vanilla bean into the bowl, and then add the pod. Place the pan over medium heat and heat for about 3 minutes, or until the cream comes to a simmer. Add the butter, remove from the heat, and set aside.
Have ready a large bowl filled with ice water. In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the corn syrup and sugar. Add enough of the water to make a wet, sandy texture. Place over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and cook without stirring, occasionally swirling the pan slightly to gauge the caramelization, for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar turns a medium amber.
Remove from the heat, add the cream mixturebe careful, as it will steam and bubble vigorouslyand whisk to combine. Place the pan in the ice-water bath and let cool.
In a chilled bowl, whip the cream with a whisk until it begins to thicken. Add the crème fraîche and beat until thick and fluffy. This may be done up to 3 hours ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Just before serving, remove the ramekins from the refrigerator. Reheat the sauce over medium heat, discard the vanilla pod, and spoon 1 tablespoon of the sauce over each budino. Top each with about 1/8 teaspoon Maldon salt and a dollop of the whipped cream. Serve the cookies on the side.
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