BUDINO DI CASTAGNE
by gina depalma
This budino, or pudding, packs a flavorful punch -creamy, toasted chestnuts accented with the intensity of chestnut honey. Try this dessert from the Dolci menu at Babbo on a brisk winter evening. The chestnut puree can be made a few days in advance and is a great use for leftover roasted chestnuts.
Place the cleaned chestnuts, 3 cups of whole milk, the vanilla bean and granulated sugar in a large saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, allowing the milk to gently simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool until it is lukewarm. Remove the vanilla bean. Working in batches, puree the milk and chestnuts together in a blender to make a smooth puree. Measure out ¾ cup of the puree for the budinos, reserving the rest for another use.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Lightly spray six 4 ounce ramekins or custard cups with non-stick cooking spray and arrange them, spaced apart, in a deep baking dish.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, honey, nutmeg and salt and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the 1½ cups of chestnut puree, heavy cream and remaining ½ cup of whole milk. Heat until very hot and almost scalding, being careful not to boil or scorch the mixture. Gradually pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture, whisking as you go along, until all of the liquid has been added to the bowl. Whisk in the vanilla extract and brandy or grappa.
Pour the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve or chinois to remove any lumps or bits of egg. Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins. Carefully pour enough hot water to come halfway up sides of the ramekins. Cover the entire baking dish with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so that it does not touch the surface of the custards.
Bake the custards in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, then carefully rotate the baking dish and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. To check for doneness, the custards should jiggle slightly in the center, appearing not quite set but not liquid. Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and remove the foil. Allow the custards to cool for 15 minutes in the water bath, then remove the ramekins and chill in the refrigerator until completely cold, about 4-5 hours.
Before serving, drizzle the tops of each budino with ½ teaspoon of chestnut honey.
Sources: Chestnut Honey is available at the following online retailers: