Friday, April 8, 2011

The Idea Was Good

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.)


  1. Too bad it didn't turn out! If it's any consteltion it looks lovely and delicious!

  2. It looks delicious...caramel is a touchy thing...fussy & delicate!!!

    My latest mishap...hmmm...well the one that stands out the most was a quick...far too quick read over a dipping sauce recipe. I thought it said 2...didn't see the 2 tsps part...kinda makes a difference when it's serranos! 2 whole serranos as opposed to 2 tsps...YOWZER...spicy!!!!

    We had a good laugh!!

  3. Oh my gosh, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has baking mishaps! Mine was with cupcakes, which should have been easy, but if you don't follow the recipe, you have some problems. :S

  4. well it certainly looks lovely!

    hee hee, i learned that lesson after making my first (seriously awful) batch of homemade macaroni and cheese - which the hubbers dutifully plowed through, bless his heart. three onions is about two too many, in case you wondering. (you're very misleading, rachel ray, you little minx.)

  5. I'm so glad I'm not the only one! Thanks for the laughs. I figure the more 'accidents' we have the more we learn. I'm sure this is true of much of life!


Thanks so much for your comments! I love hearing from you and read each and every one!