Recipes

chocolate budino

Barbuto is the restaurant that made me love kale salads. It proved daily that toasted gnocchi > any other gnocchi. The chicken is legendary, although we probably got the hangar steak more often, because it’s also the restaurant that showed me how wonderful they can be. The crispy potato side is one of my favorite formats of potatoes on earth (I’ll get to them, I promise; update: I did!). But little of this matters because they closed last week. We knew it was coming. The building was sold over four years ago and I know because I got panicked emails from some of you about it. [“What are you going to do??!” I felt seen.] I assume it’s just taken this long to get whatever teardown-and-rebuild plans [I’m confident that it will be affordable housing, aren’t you?] the new owners have for the spot in order. They’ll probably find a new location eventually, but I am skeptical that will have the casual charm of an old auto garage with roll-up glass doors. This unfussy charm was our favorite thing about the restaurant. There was no bread on the table, no heavy sauces, no dots of reductions, no frippery, nothing exhausting. Pretty much everything was seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice or a light vinegar, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Variations on salsa verdes and gremolatas abounded. It was the kind of unshowy food you could eat daily, as if they were hoping you’d notice and become regulars, and if that didn’t convince you, in the summer there were five to six different rosés by the glass on the menu, so you’d never get bored. I promise, I’m getting somewhere with this.


barbuto's kale salad barbuto's crispy potatoes always the rosé at barbuto barbuto's chocolate budino

We probably ate six times a year for the last six years and we finished every single meal with the chocolate budino, which is a rich cold custard, the Italian take on chocolate pudding. “Seriously, when are you going to make it for us?” someone DMed me when I showed off my favorite spoonful two weeks ago, the yin-yang of cold dark chocolate custard and unsweetened cream. She had a point. Because I have Jonathan Waxman’s cookbook, it’s particularly rude that I’ve never shared it before. The thing is, the recipe was too fussy. First, there’s the fussiness inherent in decadence: Many egg yolks. A tremendous amount of heavy cream. Lots of good chocolate. Then, there’s the fussiness in the measurements: The recipe calls for 9 ounces of chocolate, 8 bittersweet and 1 ounce of milk chocolate. Nobody asked, but it’s my hunch that when a recipe calls for 9 ounces of butter or chocolate, it’s because it has a European origin, where in metrics, it’s around 250 grams. But why put this in a US cookbook when here we buy things in whole, half, and quarter-pounds? And who wants to buy milk chocolate just to use an ounce of it? Finally, there’s the fussiness of steps: Melt the chocolate. Heat the cream. Whisk the eggs and sugar. Temper in the hot cream. Transfer it to a saucepan. Heat it, strain it. Cool the chocolate and custard separately to an undisclosed temperature and then combine them and cool them further. Sure, it’s delicious. But even I, a Barbuto Chocolate Budino Superfan, haven’t got time for that.

meanwhile, chop chocolatewhisk yolks and sugarwhisk in cream slowlycook until it coats a spoonstrain custard over chocolatestir to melt

But now that I can no longer go across town to have it, well, I suppose I do and got to work. First, I ditched the two types of chocolate, settling on a semisweet in the 60 percent range. I scaled the recipe down so that you can buy and use an even half-pound of bar chocolate. I didn’t heat the cream and it didn’t matter. I didn’t melt the chocolate, just chopped it well, and when I strained the hot custard right onto it, it melted the chocolate for me, while taking the temperature down so it takes less time to cool the dishes. Less time to cool means you get to eat it sooner — you’re welcome.

pour into cups
chocolate budino, ready to chill

I did not, however, touch the decadence. I’m not trying to change what makes it excellent. It’s wildly rich. They served it in espresso cups at Barbuto with a cloud of whipped cream on top because a few spoonfuls is all you need, and I encourage you to do the same (rather than weakening its perfection with the goal of eating more). I suspect they use all of the spare egg whites to make the biscotti they always served it with — embedded so deeply in the thick, cold budino that you had to really yank it out — but that for another day. This is for five minutes from now.

chocolate budino, barbuto-style

Previously

One year ago: Garlic-Lime Steak and Noodle Salad
Two years ago: Grilled Pepper and Torn Mozarella Panzanella
Three years ago: The Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookie, Revisited
Four years ago: Crispy Frizzled Artichokes
Five years ago: Coconut Brown Butter Cookies
Six years ago: Rhubarb Cream Cheese Hand Pies
Seven years ago: Asparagus with Almonds and Yogurt Dressing
Eight years ago: Fudge Popsicles
Nine years ago: Cabbage and Lime Salad with Roasted Peanuts, Leek Bread Pudding, Oatmeal Pancakes, and Spring Asparagus Pancetta Hash
Ten years ago: Grilled Shrimp Cocktail and Graham Crackers
Eleven years ago: S’more Pie
Twelve years ago: Zucchini Carpaccio Salad

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Cosmopolitan
1.5 Years Ago: Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
2.5 Years Ago: Union Square Cafe’s Bar Nuts
3.5 Years Ago: Parsley Pecorino Biscuits and Potato Kugel
4.5 Years Ago: Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix

Chocolate Budino

Please note: These photos show a halved recipe, which yielded 6 tiny espresso cups of budino (luxe chocolate pudding), perfect for a weekday treat for us, but probably too outrageously tiny for normal people. The recipe below is for a full yield, which makes eight 1/4- to 1/3-cup servings. The budino is rich with dark chocolate and intense. Should you find it too intense for your tastes, you can replace half the chocolate with milk chocolate. You should not, however, skip the whipped cream; it’s just not the same without it. Finally, here are some recipes to use up those extra egg whites, a classic American-style chocolate pudding, if your tastes run less rich, and while we’re at it, a luxe butterscotch pudding/budino, inspired by a different restaurant’s famous version, should your tastes run chocolate-free.

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream, plus another 1/2 cup for making whipped cream
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (60 percent range is perfect here), finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • Two pinches of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon, brandy, or another liqueur (optional)

In the bottom of a medium-sized saucepan, whisk egg yolks with granulated sugar until fully combined. Slow drizzle in 2 cups of cream, whisking the whole time. Warm mixture over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it is thick enough that it coats a spoon. (Don’t let it simmer or boil.) Place chopped chocolate in the bottom of a large bowl and set a fine-mesh strainer over it. Pour egg yolk mixture through strainer, onto the chocolate. Remove strainer and stir; the heat of the egg yolk mixture should melt the chocolate. Add butter, salt, and vanilla, and mix until butter is melted and combined. Divide between small cups (you’ll have about 2 1/2 to 2 2/3 cups of budino mixture) and chill until fully cold and set. Either right before you serve it or, when the chill is off the custard enough that it won’t melt the cream, whip remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream to very soft peaks. Spoon generously over each cup. Serve cold, with strong coffee, and your favorite biscotti.

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140 comments on chocolate budino

  1. Ann Tourk

    Can I use bittersweet chocolate? Any you recommend?

    We love(d) Barbuto, especially your favorites. Budino is my husband’s favorite.

    1. deb

      If you can find Guittard, it’s one of my favorites moderately-priced brands for baking. There aren’t standards for when a chocolate can be labeled bittersweet or semisweet, so brands tend to use it interchangeably. However, bittersweet should be something like 72% and semisweet should be more like 60%. Semisweet is better here, or you’ll likely find it too intense. Trader Joe’s has a great pound-plus bar, but it’s going to be a little bitter here. I’d either use less (maybe 7 ounces instead of 8) or swap half with milk chocolate if using it.

  2. Anne

    This is why I love Smitten Kitchen. Your Instagram story of the pudding on steroids was hilarious and we all need a chuckle at least once a day. Like pudding (Hee hee).

  3. Jenny

    I’m guessing that’s my sister’s recipe, since she was the first pastry chef at Barbuto and is noted in the acknowledgements (now she is at Jams), and I remember when she was trying to help Jonathan with the cookbook. It is a fussy recipe for a home cook, for sure, and your simpler-but-still-decadent variation looks yummy and doable. Alas, we only ate at Barbuto once, but it was totally amazing, and more so when the food just comes without ordering because you’re there with the pastry chef.

    Even after all these years, I’m amazed at how Heather can just casually throw together some amazing gazillion ingredient dessert in about 30 seconds! I bake chocolate chip cookies maybe once a year and call it good. I might have to try this though, and I don’t think my sister would mind a bit. Her favorite dessert is something she didn’t have to make!

    1. deb

      That is so cool! It’s so, so delicious. I call it fussy, but it’s really Proper Pastry Technique. My hunch is that the Proper Pastry touches were added by whomever did the recipe testing or co-writing on the book, but I’m really just guessing. I bet she simplified it on the line, too. And, of course, the pastry chef at a restaurant would never be using the yield in the book; it would all be in weights and much, much more per batch.

  4. Julie

    This looks DELICIOUS.

    If you ever get to Philly, there is a restaurant with a similar name, Barbuzzo, that is famous for their salted caramel budino. The owner Marcie Turney is one of the best chefs in town, I will follow her to the ends of the earth.

    1. Gillian

      I was about to comment with the same suggestion!! The salted caramel boudino is out of this world and my partner and I had a good laugh about the Barbuzzo/Barbuto connection.

  5. Susan

    Oh no! We are visiting NYC in August to drop our daughter off for her first year of college. I was looking forward to trying Barbuto out. Any suggestions for other restaurants to try?

    1. deb

      Yes, check my suggestions here. Also, I mention on the page but for even more recommendations, including newer favorites (like Win Son, Di An Di, Little Tong, The Fly), check the “NYC” (3 so far) saved Stories on my personal Instagram @debperelman.

  6. Charlotte in Toronto

    Oh Deb! I’ve been waiting for this all my life. It looks so simple. And so chocolate. Perfect no fuss recipe for summer. And fall. And any other time I’m feeling the need to indulge. And how fabulous is the term “budino”. Thank you so much for this.💋

  7. Shannon D

    I’m a single gal at home, and a half recipe sounds perfect to me. You halved a recipe with 5 egg yolks. Which side did you err on? 3 or 2? :) Thanks!

  8. Kristin

    Sounds wonderful! Any advice on the optional liqueur flavor? I usually go orange with chocolate but I also have Chambord (raspberry) and Kapali (coffee) looking good right now… I’ll try triple sec tonight but look forward to hearing what others like.

    1. Kristin

      So the triple sec was lovely, especially paired with Fiori di Sicilia (that vanilla-citrus flavoring from King Arthur Flour). I didn’t even have heavy cream so used light cream and had no topping, which is sad, but wow it was still such a treat! My son just added whipping cream to the grocery list for tomorrow.

  9. Nat

    This looks like it will scratch that chocolate itch oI get nightly after dinner. So… conversely, if we are in Europe, what are the metric measurements? I love SK b/c you do usually give them :) In American recipes I’m never sure whether you need different cups to measure liquids (the cream here) and solids (the sugar).

    1. Momo

      Hi Nat. If you are looking to know, Americans do use different measurements for liquid and dry ingredients. We have liquid measuring cups with spouts and have cups for dry

      1. Bridgit

        The style of measuring device is different, but the volume measurements are the same. I grew up almost never using a liquid measurer.

        1. Jackie M

          Hi Deb! I made this tonight and while the flavor is delicious, the butter seemed to have separated from the pudding and hardened on top like….well… hardened butter in a layer. Any thoughts on how to fix? (Probably going to Just layer whipped cream on and hope no one notices….) and/or any ideas why this happened?

            1. Brianna

              Deb I just made this for the first time and it seems to have split. The sugar cream looked great and when I first poured it over the chocolate it looked amazing, and then as I continued to stir it became lumpy and an oily slick was floating over the whole thing. I haven’t chilled or eaten yet but I have a feeling it’s not going to be yummy. Any advice on how to prevent this in the future? Was it the brand of chocolate I used or the temperature of the chocolate?

  10. Katharina

    You said that the photos show half of the recipe. So how many eggyolks did you us for this and how much is half of 1/3 cup in gram’s? I’m from Europe so I’m not so familiar with this cup things. I also find it inaccurate which is not so good in baking. Doesn’t apply for this recipe. Usually you give us both messurments and I’m really great full for that. Thank you

  11. Megan

    About to make! Assuming the bourbon would just be added to the mixture. I didn’t see explicit directions but it seems safe to assume.

  12. Sara

    I’m so glad you were a Barbuto superfan because when we were in NY on vacation last spring my husband and I made it there and had a perfect dinner, including gnocchi and hangar steak. <3 Thank you for the recommendation.

  13. TinaD

    Cool. Thanks, Deb. A recipe for light biscotti would be most welcome to; I always do a new one at Christmas. (Sorry about your restaurant—it’s a shame to see a good one go. Especially if they’re not the type to put a smear of butternut squash on the plate and talk about it like it’s a vegetable side on the menu.)

  14. Sanaea

    How long does it take to cook the custard?? I was hovering over mine and stirring forever and came out quite grainy and not as thick as yours.

    1. Kirsten

      I have the same question as above. I tried to follow everything exactly as you explained, but it seemed to turn out grainy…not smooth and creamy like yours. (Although, it still tastes delicious:).)

  15. Joni

    What can I sub for the cream to make this non-dairy? (I know, tired ol’ question, and I know it won’t taste quite as good :)

        1. Erin

          I had the same problem. I made this over the weekend and it was way too firm, like ganache. I think maybe I cooked the egg mixture too long, maybe that’s why it set up so firm. I’ve had the Barbutto budino several times, I know my version wasn’t correct!

          1. deb

            Firm is fine from the fridge. Coincidentally, my husband got me the Barbuto Cookbook for Valentines and I made the budino as per their official recipe (still think my way is much easier) and it’s extremely firm from the fridge. I suspect they let it warm up a bit (30 minutes?) at room temp before serving so it softens a little, then add cold whipped cream on top before bringing it out.

  16. You read my mind, Deb. We went to Barbuto when we ran through NY a couple of weeks ago. Despite the fact that we knew it was our swan song, I did NOT ORDER DESSERT and I’ve been remorseful ever since. I kept pulling out the book to look at the budino recipe, then close it immediately because I just didn’t have the patience to even look at the recipe.

    Your clairvoyance is much appreciated.

  17. Alexis

    Luscious – thanks Deb! For what it’s worth – I made mine with a combo of chocolates (3/4 was Trader Joe’ Dark Chocolate and 1/4 was their milk chocolate). Great rich flavour without being bitter. Straining the custard really helped as well. Perfect for an elegant dinner party dessert or for a weeknight bit of joy.

  18. jcostic

    I made this twice since yesterday- I saw it on your Instagram story and jumped on it! The first time it came out really really bad. Taste was very off, the texture while making it seemed all wrong- I think I undercooked the custard. I tried again today a second time making three changes from the first time- cooking the custard longer, better quality chocolate (Guittard 63%) and good heavy cream (Trickling Springs in the glass bottle from Whole Foods). WOAH what a difference this time around! The taste right away is spot on and the texture was totally different- much thicker going into the fridge. Can’t wait to taste it after it sets up in the fridge!

  19. Anastasia

    So when you halved the recipe, how many egg yolks did you use? Did you adjust anything else? I simply must make this for a friend coming to dinner next week!

  20. Anastasia

    Oops! Did this on my phone so the comments didn’t show right away. Just noticed already asked and answered! Thanks!

  21. Kathleen

    The chocolate pudding looks yummy but those potatoes look devine. Please please please please please do the potatoes… Please?

  22. Elizabeth

    This was delicious and so quick & easy! Used Ghirardelli bittersweet (60%), made a half recipe and poured into little Duralex Picardie glasses, which made 5 small servings. Just the right size for a rich dessert (like a pot de creme)! This one’s a keeper.

  23. AliceM in OKC

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I made it yesterday, June 9th, for my daughter’s birthday dessert and it was such a hit with everyone at the table. I have been admonished to make it again and to not ever deviate from the recipe — it is PERFECT as is.

  24. witloof

    I am the person who would buy a pound of milk chocolate to use one ounce in a recipe and have NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER disposing of the rest of it! Milk chocolate FTW.

  25. YUM! This is very close to the recipe for my recipe for chocolate chess pie (which I make in tiny souffles without crust sometimes for my gluten-free daughter)… All the ingredients are the same and I can envision this being an excellent treat without the baking involved! :) Thanks, Deb!

  26. Joyce Konigsberg

    Hi! I’m just back from Italy where I enjoyed a very dense cheesecake made from Philadelphia type cream cheese! It’s got a shortbread cookie crust and is topped with bitter orange marmalade— heaven!( from Ristorante Cibreo)
    Which of your cheesecake recipes would produce
    a really dense filling? Do you have any that call for gelatin?
    Do you think that a water bath would cause a change in texture?

    😘 thanks !
    in the texture

    1. deb

      In Italy, cheesecakes are usually made with ricotta or mascarpone but I find them less dense, not more. So it’s hard to say where to start.

  27. Jackie

    Made this this weekend for a birthday dinner, with Ghirardelli bittersweet and sweetened whipped cream (blasphemy, I know but I can’t wrap my head around unsweetened whipped cream!) and it was perfect. I cook my custards probably longer than they should because I’ve had too many not set but the straining makes it perfect. Literally no other changes, it was delicious! My dad, who swears he isn’t a sweets person, literally scraped his bowl.

    She isn’t kidding about serving size. I stuck to it with reservations and was so glad I did – this isn’t a dessert you want a ton of!

    Paired it with the oven ribs, broccoli slaw and burst tomato and zucchini galette. Was the perfect decadent end to a great meal!

  28. Sue

    Hi Deb

    I have to say that, as a Brit, this is pretty much my standard way to make a chocolate pud….and I don’t deny I’m spoiled!

  29. Maro

    PROBLEMATICALLY delicious. i just made it, despite the super hot weather, and i’m having trouble being satisfied with just one serving. it’s so so good. this is what i will make myself when i’m craving chocolate and the chips aren’t cutting it.

    I, too, was wary of the 2 tsp butter (someone above questioned whether it should be Tbsp), so I went a bit in between and did about 1 Tbsp butter. It’s lovely. (also, i used salted butter and about 1.5oz of a salted 70% choc bar – the rest of the chocolate was TJ’s Dark – mid %50s. i didn’t add sea salt)

    I cooked the custard until just about the point where it was thinking about boiling. Spoon was lightly coated immediately, but didn’t look thick like the spatula pic above until almost simmer/boil.

    this has replaced pot de creme in my heart and is so easy to make (except chopping all that chocolate. damn.)

  30. Julie

    Just made this and I think it will be delicious! However, I noticed some cooked egg mix on the bottom of the saucepan when pouring over the strainer into the chocolate. Is there a specific temperature that the egg yolk, sugar and cream mixture should be at to prevent the eggs from cooking? I must have gone over a bit. Got a reading of about 185 F on my Thermo Pop. I kept whisking once it hit the chocolate and it all seemed fine. Just curious. Thanks!

    1. deb

      Could it have been yolk-sugar-cream bits that weren’t stirred together well? I don’t know the correct temperature; I just look for it to get thick enough to coat a spoon and then stop.

      1. Scarlett

        Similar question…I followed the recipe, the egg-cream mix coated a spoon, and didn’t try any variations, but ended up with chocolate soup that never set. Are there any other indicators that would help me know how to fix it?

  31. Emma B

    I made this last night and it split when I poured the hot egg mix on to the chocolate. Any idea why this happened? My custard didn’t boil but perhaps it was too hot?

    1. deb

      Yikes. It might have been. This didn’t come up at all in any of the rounds of testing, however, to be safe, maybe wait 5 to 10 minutes for the custard to cool before pouring it through next time. Or, to use it right away, pour a little through the sieve, just a splash, whisk it, and add more, a little at a time, to temper the chocolate a little. Perhaps this would help.

      1. El

        The same thing happened to me! I had a greasy split grainy mess when I poured my custard into the chocolate. Someone else suggested immersion blending a split custard, so I did the same with the split chocolate + custard, and suddenly I had silky smooth budino! never give up…

    2. ilkarae

      I was stirring the custard into the chocolate with a spatula and it looked separated, so I switched to a whisk and it came right together. Maybe that would help?

      1. Lisa H

        I made this a second time today after it didn’t set up the first time I made it last weekend (see previous chocolate soup comment above).

        I followed the advice of another poster today and used my thermopen to cook the custard to exactly 160 degrees. It set up perfectly this time. I’d highly recommend using a thermometer to determine when it’s done. I also stirred it constantly to make sure it was evenly heating up in the pan.

        I hope that helps!

  32. Claire

    I have already made this twice. It’s so easy, and it is amazing, just as written. The unsweetened whipped cream is perfect with it!

  33. Meg

    I made this for my father, a chocolate fiend, for Father’s Day. He declared it the best dessert that either I or my mom had ever made and said he was hard pressed to think of another dessert he’d had that was better. It wasn’t too hard, either. Thank you, thank you!

  34. Lisa H

    I tried making this today, but after 3 hours in the fridge, it was still the consistency of chocolate soup, it never even set up a bit. I followed the instructions exactly, no alterations. I can’t figure out what went wrong? I’m a pretty competent baker normally, it’s making me a bit bonkers trying to figure out what I did.

    I whipped up a pint of heavy cream into whipped cream and folded it in gently, and put it back in the fridge. I’m hoping I can get lucky and turn it into a passable mousse because it tastes amazing.

    1. deb

      Very strange! Did it curdle or separate at all? Did you have a lot to strain out? Did it get to the thickness of coating a spoon? (Just going through my mental questionnaire here!)

      1. Lisa H

        No, it didn’t curdle or have much to strain out, and it did coat the back of the spoon. It looked very close to what you have in your photo. I wonder if it was the chocolate I chose? I used 4 oz of Ghiradelli semi-sweet and 4 oz of Ghiradelli dark chocolate melting wafers (thought I had plenty of semi-sweet).

        It was delicious carefully folded with a fresh pint of heavy cream whipped to stiff peak, so it wasn’t a total loss. You’re right, a small serving is the perfect portion!

        I know you cook by experience and instinct, but I agree with another poster, a temperature to cook it to would really be helpful. I’m not creative or lucky, so I bake any new recipe as exactly as possible and always use a scale to measure ingredients.

        I wish every recipe for cakes, breads, etc. had doneness temperatures, just like we do for meats. It would make my science-loving soul happy. :)

        1. MichaelB

          Just guessing, but I bet the problem was the melting wafers – they have quite a few ingredients other than chocolate to make them work for dipping, coating, etc.

          Try it with just chocolate (bars, or good baking chocolate) and it ought to set up nicely.

          1. Lisa H

            Yup, I totally agree, thanks.

            I had plenty of Ghiradelli bittersweet I could have used, I don’t know why I talked myself into using the new and untried melting chocolates. I was so focused on the (likely) smooth melting quality that I didn’t think it through.

            1. Kat

              Made half the recipe milk and half with coconut milk, for anyone who is wondering. Still used butter. Delicious! I liked it better than the milk version!

      2. Lisa H

        I made it again this morning and success!! It set up beautifully! The 160 degree temp suggested by another commenter along with all 70% chocolate instead of a mix did the trick.

        PS random comment, we discovered your sausage and tomato risotto a few weeks ago, it’s our new favorite dinner!

  35. Louisa

    Hi! I made the recipe as is. I think it turned out exactly as intended. Nevertheless it was much, much too rich for us. My husband and I ate a couple spoonfuls each before calling it quits. Oh, well! I think we prefer similar chocolate mousse style desserts where the heavy cream is whipped to stiff peaks and folded into the chocolate base resulting in a lighter texture.

    1. Claire

      I did try the mousse technique with my second batch and it was so good! I folded in about equal parts whipped cream (by volume), maybe a little heavier on the whipped cream, and it was great!

  36. Alyssa

    If you, like I did, find your custard split and are about to yell at the unsuspecting recipients of said custard out of frustration (ahem), you’ll be delighted to know that using an immersion blender for a few seconds in the broken custard will repair it! It tasted delicious and I didn’t have to toss the yolks or cream I’d destroyed. Win!

  37. Anna

    I followed all the instructions, but it never set completely. The consistency is like a thick syrup and mildly sandy and I’m at a loss as to what went wrong.

  38. jeffreycollier

    So, I’m a big fan of weighing everything. Here’s what I came up with, fwiw:

    66-75g sugar. I used 75 but I think the correct measure is 66. I’m using 70% Scharffenberger so hopefully I’m OK. 2 cups of heavy cream is 472g by my measure. The chocolate was 232g. 12g burro.

    Never one to leave a recipe unchanged, I did 1/2 tsp gray salt, added a tsp of espresso powder, and ~tbsp of Chambord. I plan on garnishing with an actual raspberry and a smidgen of mint in addition to the whipped cream.

    Also, for those of us who lack the confidence of defining “coats back of spoon”, I heated my custard to 160˚F.

    I’ll report back later with results on this little chocolate bomb but so far it looks good (20 minutes in fridge as I type…)

    1. jeffreycollier

      wow. Dat is da chocolate bomb. I’d leave a photo if I could.

      It set very well. At 90 minutes, if I tilted an espresso cup sideways, it would swell like it was trying to pour but it held, even for ~30 seconds. The recipe made 10 sundry sizes of espresso cups, so folks will be able to dose themselves.

      Can’t wait for folks to get here later and give a try. Now, on to the Caprese ladybugs. A little mozz, a little basil, half a tomato dotted with balsamic vinegar and… Oh dang! I forgot the heads! (black olive halves)

      Oh well…

  39. Cat

    Made this and so far, have eaten it as is, smeared on punitions, smeared on peanut sandies, and in an ice cream pie (spread in a thin layer over the crust, before the ice cream went in). It’s been delicious each way, but my favorites are with cookies and with ice cream.

  40. Stephen P.

    I blew it but, in my opinion, you ought to have given guidelines for a temp (160F?) to shoot for when making the custard. I made this but must not have waited long enough and now I have chocolate soup. :(

  41. I like how informative the recipes are written- there’s snippets of information and suggestions that are helpful, even crucial at times to the recipe being interjected. Easy to follow and well wrote. Wonderful recipes! I look forward to reading them daily- thankyou! Oh- and can you say YUM!!!?🙂

  42. Jess

    This was AMAZING. I imagined it to be closer to pudding but it was quite thick and rich. We poured it into four teacups to feel fancy (I have little girls) and even that portion size was too much to finish. Will definitely make this again especially if I’m wanting to impress.

  43. Heidi

    This was a big hit at a recent dinner party. I tripled the recipe and got 23 small portions (plenty since it’s so rich). Had some trouble with getting the custard to the right consistency – cooked it for too long the first time around, waiting for it to look like the picture. I got scrambled eggs. Started over and stopped when I got a thin coating on the spoon. Ended up a perfect consistency. Also, I didn’t chop my chocolate very small, just broke it into pieces – melted just fine.

  44. Jen

    I made this with half and half and whole milk just because that was on hand. They’re rich, but not so much that a pudding size serving was outrageous. Thanks for this. I’ll definitely make it again.

  45. ljneighbors

    Made this last night for my wedding anniversary. My partner says this is the best dessert I’ve ever made. Funny that, given the hours of my life I’ve spent on intricate layer cakes and thinly rolled dough for precious sandwich cookies, not to mention the million steps for trifle. The budino literally took less than 15 minutes. It was basically like making a cup of tea. A really, really, really good cup of tea!

    Can’t wait to start mixing things up with this basic recipe. Orange and black Halloween budino? Christmas budino? Pride budino? Oh man …..

  46. Nina

    I can’t wait to try making this. This weekend I had a salted caramel chocolate budino at a restaurant in Canmore Alberta and it was delicious. Now I’d like to try to make something similar using this recipe. Will it be easy to add salted caramel to the recipe? I know that David Lebovitz has a recipe for a salted caramel chocolate mousse that I have made. Do you think I will be able to employ a similar method to incorporate salted caramel to this recipe? I love your blog and have made many of your recipes that makes me look like a great baker! Thanks so much for sharing all your wonderful recipes with us!

  47. Dana Dwire

    I made this, and it is extraordinary! It turns out to be an impressive “fancy” dessert despite it being quite easy and quick to make. I am a chocolate snob, so I used Sharffen Berger’s dark chocolate; I sprinkled toasted, sliced almonds and added a couple tiny wafer cookies on top. Absolutely delicious! I brought it to a dinner party and everyone was as “wowed” by it as I was. **I had to make it twice, however, as it didn’t turn out the first time. Baker error! I realized that I had merely stirred the cream into the egg/sugar mixture instead of truly whisking it. Second time was the charm!

  48. XT

    The budino at Barbuto was always my favorite thing and I had searched online for a while for a recipe but no dice until you posted this! I made it this past weekend and it was PHENOMENAL and so, so easy. I’ve made other budino recipes in the past and they tended to be fussy and nowhere near as good. I ended up going with 2 TBSP of butter and some kirsch in the custard. Did not bother with fancy chocolate–just Whole Foods brand mini chocolate semisweet chips which melted beautiful against the hot custard (which I made very much like an ice-cream custard–slow and low for about 25 min with constant stirring until it coats the back of a spoon). I see some other comments about this being too rich but honestly my only complaint about these is that I could inhale 2 in one sitting…

  49. Mary Jo

    I have had this recipe in my “to make someday” file for awhile and today with the rain coming down I wanted chocolate. This is so easy and creamy. My family is all about creamy desserts and this one is perfect. I added Cointreau so it has a hint of orange. Thank you.

  50. trish

    I made this last night and it turned out perfectly, so smooth and silky! Perfect consistency. It was heavenly!
    But today, after being refrigerated overnight, it is like a truffle. Delicious but…
    Is it supposed to do that? I didn’t notice any instructions about bringing it back to room temperature before it is served – or is that supposed to be obvious ;)

    I thought I was doing so well with my small espresso cup serving. Until today when it turned into an espresso cup sized truffle! :0 :)

    1. Lisa

      I had the same thing occur. Consistency seemed spot on when putting into the fridge to chill, but 6 hours later the budinos were like cake frosting. Very tasty cake frosting – but no longer creamy like pudding. Deb – what did Trish and I do wrong?

  51. Abby

    I made this for Christmas Eve dessert and it was a total hit! Easy to do, great to make the day before, and a real crowd pleaser. No one would believe I didn’t slave over it for hours!

    1. deb

      There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL + P from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template.

  52. LitProf

    Deb, I’m fortunate to be cooking my way through this pandemic, I write to thank you because this budino is life-affirming. I made the half-recipe for our family of five, and the only sound was spoons scraping the bottoms of the espresso cups to get every last bit. I used Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bittersweet chocolate and the result was perfect: not too sweet and the pudding had a wonderful silky texture. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. Please stay safe in NYC.

  53. Michelle

    Mine split too. :( On the plus side, if I closed my eyes while eating, it tasted exactly as delicious as I’d expect a combination of chocolate, custard, and booze to taste!

  54. J

    Which Jonathon Waxman book: Urological Cancer, Cancer, Endochronolgy of Urological Cancer? Not sure if I want pudding from a Urology Cancer DR. Hehe Just putting the name in my search engine brought up some interesting things and made me giggle.

  55. Lora

    It took me almost a year to make this and now I’m wishing I had made it sooner since we spent a year budino-less. This is so easy and so delicious!

  56. Katie

    I have tried to make this twice. Each time it hasn’t set and firmed up and it hasn’t been smooth. What am I doing wrong?

  57. Denise

    I halved the recipe and split the third egg yolk as recommended. But my budino came out grainy and very thick not pudding-like as in your photos. Followed the recipe exactly. What did I do wrong?

    1. deb

      It could be one of three things, the chocolate itself might have been a little bloomed or just not melt well; the yolks might have been too hot and could have split the chocolate (this hasn’t happened to me or I’d warn about it, of course); or it could be just that the chocolate didn’t fully melt.

  58. Melissa Fanning

    This is delicious! One little issue was that the custard mixture coated a spoon before I even turned on the burner. I cooked it until steam was coming up. It came out perfectly, but I wonder if there is some way to be a bit more specific about how long to cook it.
    Thank you!

  59. Kitty

    Looks delicious! I have a question. Are good-quality chocolate chips a reasonable substitute for the chopped chocolate? Thank you!

  60. Kathleen

    I made this a couple days ago, and it was quite tasty. Used 70% dark chocolate and no bourbon or liqueur. They are *very* sweet – definitely do not sweeten your whipped cream much/at all. I also liked it with a sprinkle of flakey sea salt – nice contrast to the sweetness! My budino set quite densely and had a tiny bit of grittiness to them – still very nice, but not quite the smooth texture I was hoping for. I might have just cooked the custard too long – I went all the way to 170 degrees because I was a little paranoid after reading comments about the custards not setting. Next time I’ll stick to 160 (and there will still be a next time, because despite my minor quibbles, these are totally delicious and also easy). Oh, one last thing is that they are super rich! I will probably make half-sized portions next time, too.

  61. Kat Simonyi

    This recipe is so, so, so, so, so, so, so good. I made it yesterday for a small, outdoor oysters and champagne Thanksgiving celebration (faster to eat in the cold than a full turkey dinner!) and I was blown away. It was so easy to put together but so delicious. The texture is also incredible – smooth, slightly dense and creamy. I roasted some hazelnuts and chopped those to put on top in lieu of biscotti or cookies and the crunch was a welcome addition. Will definitely add this to the long list of Smitten Kitchen recipes I love and make regularly.

  62. Jenn

    I made this for Christmas Eve dinner and it was perfect! I served it in tall and skinny Italian shot glasses with espresso spoons. The custard set perfectly- I left it on the heat until it reached 170-degrees. I read the notes from others about cooking to 160, but my custard was still very thin at 160 so I gave it a few more minutes.

  63. Alex

    Hi! I made this tonight and everything looked good up until adding the butter to the chocolate and egg yolk mixture. Once I began mixing the 2 tsp of butter it, the mixture looked suddenly lumpy and separated. Now that they have had time to set it looks like the butter has hardened on top of each serving and throughout the serving. Any idea what might have gone wrong? Hopefully mine taste better than they look! Thank you!

  64. Shaya

    Deb – I made your chocolate budino yesterday, and it was so darn amazing. This was one of those “I didn’t know I had the capacity to make something so good in my own home” moments. One of those “This is even better than I imagined” moments. A definite “Pretty sure this was magically transported from a restaurant to my kitchen” situation. I multitasked the cooking process during an online meeting and even under those distracting circumstances, your instructions were so excellent that everything turned out delightfully. I gave a few to neighbors, dressed in whipped cream and grated chocolate (the budino, not me). And then I hoarded the rest in my fridge. Thank you for totally making my day!!

    P.S. I had a few boxes of 70% Guittard chocolate, so that’s what I used. Plus a teaspoon or two of bourbon (Woodford Reserved, double oaked). Loved the results.

  65. Madto

    Deb, I need your help. I have made this twice and both times something has gone wrong. I was really disappointed with the first attempt– whatever I had done wrong, I wanted to learn from those mistakes. I followed the recipe both times to the letter. The issue the first attempt was that the butter wouldn’t incorporate into the chocolate custard– as in, completely split. I had to immersion blend it into oblivion to barely incorporate–I was able to sort of save it after a lot of blending. It has been some time since my first attempt and I wanted to try again because I had some theories of what had may have possibly gone wrong. I couldn’t remember if I had used my stash of lower quality butter (which I didn’t realize at the time was partially margarine) in the first attempt, so I wondered if it had maybe something to do with that? The second attempt I made sure that everything on the ingredient list was of good quality (butter was actually full-on proper butter) and I put extra close attention to what I was doing as I was cooking. In this second attempted the mixture didn’t split in the bowl like the first attempt (was a completely smooth texture). It gave me some false hope that it had indeed been my low-quality butter in the first go-around. I resolved NOT to immersion blend this time, since it didn’t seem to require it– I just filled the cups and let them set in the fridge. But, after they had set, I noticed that the final mixture had split in the ramakins during the setting process– the butter rose to the surface, the fat solidified on the top (the way fat does in the cold of the fridge)– it looked absolutely unappetizing. I’m still convinced there’s something I’m doing wrong, I just cannot for the life of me figure it out. Deb, I want to master this recipe because it looks so good when you make it! What could be the possible reasons for mine splitting like this both times?

    1. deb

      Happy to help! There are two places where there’s a chance at splitting or an uneven texture. The first one is with the cooked egg yolks part — if overcooked, they can become grainy. The second part is when straining it over the chocolate, if it’s too hot. My presumption is that there’s a lot of chocolate and a little bit of cooked yolks so it doesn’t need a cooling time (i.e. it won’t burn/split the chocolate, just melt it). When you add it, does the chocolate melt immediately or does it require some stirring?

      1. Shaya

        Second time around here, delicious but slightly grainy. Didn’t get quite the same shine as the first round. The chocolate didn’t melt right away and needed some stirring. The custard was around 160°F. Maybe I overcooked the eggs a tiny bit?

        Still gonna eat/deliver to friends because it’s soooo good.

  66. Elise Fleming-Hendrix

    I know this is a long shot, hoping for a response on an old post, but I have a question in hoping someone can help with.
    I’m looking for a way, or a method of doing this, that will essentially create a looser, more liquid, dip from this recipe?
    I’ve never cooked it before so I don’t have the reference of how solid it becomes and when.
    I’m hoping to create a ‘bundino dip’ with salted meringue sticks for dipping.

    1. deb

      Most of the thickness comes from the cooling process and from the amount of cream vs. amount of yolks. Fewer yolks or more cream, it will be less thick.