It all started with my purchases at the Queen Victoria Market and the fabulous autumn fruit.
I love persimmons.
I also bought, feijoas, rhubarb, pomegranates and quinces. And then I saw some small pears and bought them too.
Friends were coming to dinner and I was unsure about what to make as a dessert.
I thought about making a fresh autumn fruit salad with walnuts, a persimmon crumble or the always a favourite, baked quinces. I then thought that the pears could be added towards the end of the baking of the quinces .
A chocolate budino rather than a chocolate sauce would go particularly well with the pears.
In 1957 when I came to Australia with my parents my mother used to make budino for dessert. Unlike my Australian friends who had some form of dessert every night (even if it was tinned fruit and ideal milk instead of cream), my Italian family finished off a meal with fresh fruit.
My father would have his small pairing knife and peel fruit for our little family. Desserts were for special occasions and Sunday lunch was considered special, even when we did not have guests.
Although the English translation for budino is pudding, it is nothing like any form of English pudding, whether steamed or baked.
Basically, budino is a thick custard, cooked on the stove and then allowed to set. We had no moulds, so my mother used to use a clear glass bowl. Our budino was two tone. She made two budini mixtures, one was vanilla and the other was chocolate. The slightly cooled vanilla budino was poured into the glass bowl first and once it was well on the way to setting it was topped with the slightly cooled chocolate budino. Sometimes she even managed to make some swirls. Later she started making apple strudel – Strucolo de pomi – rather than budino for guests.
When we lived in Trieste, if we were eating at home or had guests we always purchased pastries, as did my Sicilian relatives, but in Australia, we did not have access to the same range of pastry shops (we lived in Adelaide). Over time my mother taught herself how to make sweets of a higher standard and budino disappeared from her repertoire.
The budino as prepared by my mother was made of milk, corn flour, sugar, vanilla essence, butter or cream (to enrich it), and egg yolks. A bit like crème anglaise. Most of the recipes for budino do not include egg(s) and unlike many recipes for budino she did not heat the milk before making the custard. It all commenced in a thick bottom saucepan with cold ingredients.
It is dead easy to make and it tastes great.
The cream and butter enrich the budino and if you prefer a leaner version use less of each or just one.
Chocolate version of budino
3 cups pf whole milk and 1 cup of cream (4 cups = 1 litre)
2 tablespoons of butter, if using unsalted add a pinch of salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/4 cup corn flour
1-2 egg yolks
150g + dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (add more if you want a stronger taste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In the saucepan, mix the egg yolk(s), sugar, corn starch and cocoa. Add a little milk and stir to make a paste. Pour in the milk, vanilla and cream and continue to mix, trying to prevent any lumps.
Place the pan with the ingredients on the stove and over medium-low heat keep on stirring until the mixture is thick like custard. Add the butter towards the end.
When it begins to cool, place in the bits of chocolate and stir gently. Some of it will melt into the budino. if you would like to taste firm chocolate, wait until the budino is cooler before you add the chocolate.
Pour into a mould (or bowl) and when the mixture is cool, cover it and place it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, until completely chilled. If you do not want a skin to form on top, use some baking paper or butter wrapper and cover the surface.
Sometimes I pour the budino into individual small serving bowls or cups or glasses as I do with a mousse. If you are using a mould, the budino can be turned out onto a plate as I would do with a jelly.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
Although budino was always presented plain in my childhood, berries and baked fruit is always a good accompaniment.
It keeps well for a few days.
Above, budino with poached rhubarb and apples. Below, with baked pear.
BIANCOMANGIARE and GELO
In Sicily, they make Biancomangiare (Blancmange).
it is also called Gelo. This too is thickened on the stove and set like a budino. It is simpler to make and much less rich.