I’ve always been a sucker for a layered dessert. To this day, every time I pass a Dairy Queen (which isn’t often) I’m struck with a craving for a Peanut Buster Parfait. The layers of hot fudge sauce between layers of soft serve ice cream, along with loads of peanuts, are delicious. This ranks as one of my all-time favorite childhood treats.
So, when I spotted this fantastic layered pudding (budino is Italian for pudding) in Bon Appétit, I knew I had to make it. And make it I did, again and again.
Let me count the ways I love this dessert. First, there is a chocolate cookie layer on the bottom. This adds some texture to the layer of delicious caramel-flavored pudding above it. On top of the pudding is caramel sauce, which I consider one of the most amazing achievements of humankind. It’s just that good. A healthy dollop of sweetened whipped cream on top and maybe a sprinkle of chocolate cookie crumbs over the whole thing and I’m officially in dessert heaven.
Of course, because this is a layered dessert, it’s nice to serve this in individual glasses or jars. Anything of about 8 ounces (237 ml) will be just fine.
The original recipe salts things a little heavily for my taste, so I’ve lessened the salt a bit. I like salted caramel, but in the past year or so I’ve kind of had my fill of salty desserts. I’ve had too many that I found too salty — just give me the sweet stuff any day.
There are a number of different elements to make, but each element is very quick and easy. That said, this is a nice dessert when you’ve got a little time to make the elements in advance, and then all you have to do is assemble it a couple of hours before serving. This recipe is also easily halved, for when you don’t need eight individual puddings (not that there’s anything wrong with making all eight and eating them yourself — as Julia Child said: “Everything in moderation, including moderation!”)
- 1 cup (70 g) chocolate cookie crumbs (Chocolate animal cookies are good. Smash them in a plastic bag, or pulse them in a food processor.)
- 2 Tbsp (28 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 3 cups (720 ml) whole milk
- ¼ cup (30 g) cornstarch
- ¾ cup (packed) (150 g) dark brown sugar
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp (42 g) unsalted butter
- 2 tsp (10 ml) dark rum (or vanilla extract)
- ½ tsp (3 g) salt
- ¾ cup (185 ml) heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup (100 g) sugar
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) light corn syrup
- 4 Tbsp (56 g) unsalted butter, cut into 10 or so pieces
- ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream (cold)
- 2 Tbsp (16 g) powdered/confectioners sugar
- Mix the cookie crumbs and melted butter in a bowl. Save a couple of tablespoons of it for a final garnish, and press the rest (about 2 tablespoons each) into the bottom of eight (8 oz) glasses or jars.
- Whisk together the cornstarch with about a ½ cup of the milk in a small bowl.
- Heat the rest of the milk in a saucepan or in the microwave until hot.
- In another saucepan, stir the brown sugar with ¾ cup of water (175 ml) until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture is boiling. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until homogenous. Then, whisking continuously, slowly add the hot milk, then the cornstarch mixture, then the hot sugar mixture.
- Pour everything from the bowl back into the saucepan, and, whisking continuously, heat the mixture until it thickens.
- Remove from heat. Stir in the butter and the rum or vanilla extract.
- Pass the pudding through a sieve into a bowl.
- Put the pudding into the glasses/jars on top of the cookie crumbs (about ½ cup or 175 ml in each glass/jar).
- Cover the glasses and chill them until the pudding is cold and set.
- Gently stir the sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water in a saucepan. Boil the mixture without stirring until it turns an amber color.
- Remove from heat and add the cream and vanilla. Be careful here, the cream will bubble up a lot when it hits the superhot sugar. Stir or whisk until the mixture settles down and becomes smooth.
- Stir in the butter. Let cool. (This can be ahead of time (several days). Just warm the caramel sauce very slightly to make it pourable before final assembly of the dessert.)
- Vigorously whisk the cold cream in a cold bowl until it thickens and holds a soft peak. Gently whisk in the powdered sugar.
- Put about 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) of caramel sauce on top of each of the puddings in the glasses/jars.
- Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of additional cookie crumbs.
- Fully assembled, this will hold well for a few hours. After a while, the whipped cream will start to go limp on you, so you can always assemble everything ahead of time and just finish with the whipped cream right before serving, if desired.