Friday, April 8, 2011
I fell in love with this dessert. Head over heels. (if you squint and look close enough, you can actually see this illustrated in the spoon above.)
I had grand visions of recreating it at home. Bringing back a little taste of Charleston to our dinner table.
On our final night in Charleston, at FIG, we dined lavishly on all kinds of good stuff. I was thrilled that they even made me a "very special" vegetarian plate for my entree. I seriously felt awesome. Who gets to eat a plate full of beets and sunchokes and farro on their birthday? (yay, me.)
But the dessert, the dessert, was fabulous. I couldn't take any pictures as the romantic mood lighting made for some horrendous blur, but trust me when I tell you how good this was.
Chocolate Budino with Sea Salted Caramel and Toasted Hazelnuts
John wasn't super excited about it as he's not a fan of hazelnuts but he definitely jumped in after my first bite. I'd never had a budino before, an Italian pudding. It was light, smooth chocolate silk. As you slipped your spoon through the top layer of chocolate, you uncovered a buttery layer of salted caramel. Topped with toasted hazelnuts and a light dusting of flaky sea salt. I'm sure I say this alot, but we did feel like we had died and gone to heaven.
I knew I was going to try and recreate this at home. A way of celebrating my blog birthday and sharing something completely fabulous with all of you.
I cleared out my calendar, set aside an afternoon, turned on some tunes, laid out my ingredients and got to work. The sun was flooding the kitchen (spring, I love you.) and I was happy happy.
I had the makings of a caramel base going on the stove. The corn syrupy mixture turned a deep shade of amber and I removed it from the burner to 'gently' add the cream and butter and salt.
Here's where everything goes wrong. Apparently, I wasn't gentle enough. My promising caramel base turned into rock hard solid chunks of extremely salty candy like material. So I did what all good cooks do and dumped in a ton more sugar and an equal amount of butter followed by a heart stopping amount of cream. I whisked and stirred. Put it on the burner and took it off. High heat, low heat. Prayed a little.
Eventually, I had what looked like a caramel base. Looks, however, can be very deceiving. (It tasted like gritty, salty, sweet, chewy, stomach rotting, grittiness.)
I crossed my fingers that no one would notice and I buried that lump of caramel like base under an almost perfect layer of silky smooth dark chocolate Italian pudding.
Two seriously bad stomach aches later, one of which morphed into a case of viral like flu and I learned the hard way that sometimes it is just better to start over.
On a more positive note, I've been reading up on food styling and figured my little puddings would at the very least make for a fun photography session.
Any recent kitchen mishaps that you care to share? (Sometimes, it is just best to admit defeat.)