Friday, April 8, 2011

The Idea Was Good


I fell in love with this dessert.   Head over heels.   (if you squint and look close enough, you can actually see this illustrated in the spoon above.)

I had grand visions of recreating it at home.    Bringing back a little taste of Charleston to our dinner table.    

On our final night in Charleston, at FIG, we dined lavishly on all kinds of good stuff.    I was thrilled that they even made me a "very special" vegetarian plate for my entree.   I seriously felt awesome.   Who gets to eat a plate full of beets and sunchokes and farro on their birthday?  (yay, me.)

But the dessert, the dessert, was fabulous.    I couldn't take any pictures as the romantic mood lighting made for some horrendous blur, but trust me when I tell you how good this was.

Chocolate Budino with Sea Salted Caramel and Toasted Hazelnuts

John wasn't super excited about it as he's not a fan of hazelnuts but he definitely jumped in after my first bite.   I'd never had a budino before, an Italian pudding.    It was light, smooth chocolate silk.    As you slipped your spoon through the top layer of chocolate, you uncovered a buttery layer of salted caramel.  Topped with toasted hazelnuts and a light dusting of flaky sea salt.    I'm sure I say this alot, but we did feel like we had died and gone to heaven.  


I knew I was going to try and recreate this at home.    A way of celebrating my blog birthday and sharing something completely fabulous with all of you.

I cleared out my calendar, set aside an afternoon, turned on some tunes, laid out my ingredients and got to work.   The sun was flooding the kitchen (spring, I love you.) and I was happy happy.  

I had the makings of a caramel base going on the stove.    The corn syrupy mixture turned a deep shade of amber and I removed it from the burner to 'gently' add the cream and butter and salt.  

Here's where everything goes wrong.   Apparently, I wasn't gentle enough.  My promising caramel base turned into rock hard solid chunks of extremely salty candy like material.    So I did what all good cooks do and dumped in a ton more sugar and an equal amount of butter followed by a heart stopping amount of cream.     I whisked and stirred.    Put it on the burner and took it off.   High heat, low heat.  Prayed a little.

Eventually, I had what looked like a caramel base.    Looks, however, can be very deceiving.    (It tasted like gritty, salty, sweet, chewy, stomach rotting, grittiness.)

I crossed my fingers that no one would notice and I buried that lump of caramel like base under an almost perfect layer of silky smooth dark chocolate Italian pudding.  


Two seriously bad stomach aches later, one of which morphed into a case of viral like flu and I learned the hard way that sometimes it is just better to start over.

On a more positive note, I've been reading up on food styling and figured my little puddings would at the very least make for a fun photography session.

Any recent kitchen mishaps that you care to share?    (Sometimes, it is just best to admit defeat.)

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