Spring is peeking its O's hat-wearing head out from under the dormant tulips in Patterson Park. You see it in the hopeful faces of every wind-whipped Baltimorean braving the 50-degree weather sans coat. As much as I long for the JFX farmers market to open again, there is a part of me desperately clinging to the last vestiges of those cold winter months. Namely, hearty comfort foods, cuddly clothes, and . . . dessert.
During a lively dinner with friends at Birroteca in Clipper Mill, we found ourselves ordering two more rounds of drinks and another dessert after we paid the bill-thanks to the Nutella budino. A budino is a traditional Italian dessert, close in consistency to a pudding or custard. It's normally thickened with cornstarch so your spoon can stand at attention in it. Birroteca's version is fantastic, and with the addition of homemade whipped cream and a finish of some sea salt, it's been elevated to magnifico (with the Italian thumb-to-mouth kiss)!
Nutella budino, remade from Birroteca's version 1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
6 ounces Nutella
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Place ramekins in deep rectangular baking pan. Place bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate together in bowl. Heat heavy cream in small saucepan until almost simmering, then pour hot cream over the chocolates. Whisk until fully melted. Stir in Nutella until smooth, then whisk in eggs, yolks, sugar, salt. * Pour mixture into ramekins, dividing equally. * With ramekins in the pan, pour warm water in-make sure not to splash any into the ramekins-so the water goes about halfway up the side of the ramekins. * Bake at 325 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking time. When custard is set, it will jiggle just a little when you shake the pan. Very carefully remove from the oven, place on a heatproof surface. When ramekins are cool enough to touch, remove and chill in fridge for at least two hours. * Top with homemade whipped cream (one half-pint whipping cream, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, and one-fourth cup powdered sugar, whipped till it forms stiff peaks), and sprinkle with sea salt, like Maldon. Big, crispy, biting flakes of salt against the rich sweetness of the budino makes it a dessert you will bust out because you need to celebrate on a Wednesday. Makes six 8-ounce portions.