Pizzeria Mozza‘s butterscotch budino has become one of Los Angeles’ most iconic desserts. And in a city obsessed with budino (which is just the Italian word for “pudding”), many people think Nancy Silverton, Mozza’s co-owner and chef, is responsible. But Silverton takes very little credit for its creation. While she was preparing to open the pizzeria in 2006, their pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez was biding her time and honing her skills at Jar, a restaurant owned by Silverton’s friend Suzanne Tracht. Jar had a butterscotch pudding on the menu, to which Narvaez added a layer of caramel and a sprinkling of sea salt. Silverton contributed a pine nut rosemary cookie, which is served on the side at both Mozza and chi Spacca.
What You Will Need
For the budino
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 1⁄2 cups milk
- 1 large egg
- 3 large egg yolks
- 5 tbsp. cornstarch
- 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. dark rum
- Fluer de sel or another flaky sea salt, for serving
For the caramel sauce and whipped crème fraîche
- 3⁄4 cup heavy cream
- 1⁄4 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) unsalted butter
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp. corn syrup
- 3⁄4 cup crème fraîche
- Prepare the budino: Combine the heavy cream and milk and set the mixture next to the stove. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, stir the brown sugar, ½ cup water, and the salt to combine. Cook until the sugar is melted, dark brown, and smells caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately whisk in the cream and milk mixture (the mixture will steam and the butterscotch will seize, but will become smooth again as you continue whisking). Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Add 1 cup of the prepared butterscotch, whisking constantly. Whisk in the remaining butterscotch, then boil, whisking constantly, until the custard is very thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and rum. Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps, and divide among ten 6-ounce ramekins or serving bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled, several hours or up to 3 days.
- Make the caramel sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the cream and vanilla seeds and bring to a simmer. Add the butter, turn off the heat, and set aside.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling the pan just slightly to gauge the caramelization, until the sugar becomes a medium amber color, about 10 minutes. Remove the caramel from heat and carefully whisk the vanilla cream into the caramel (stand back as the mixture will steam and bubble vigorously); continue whisking until completely combined. Let cool significantly (mixture should be just warm for serving).
- Meanwhile, make the whipped crème: In a chilled metal bowl using a whisk or an electric mixer, whip the crème fraiche on high speed just until thickened (15–30 seconds).
- Top each budino with 1 tablespoon of the warm caramel sauce, a dollop of the whipped crème fraîche, and a pinch of fleur de sel.