When I tasted chocolate custard garnished with sea salt and olive oil on a visit to Italy, I knew I had stumbled on a great idea. So, like most chefs, I tucked the idea away to use myself. We added a chocolate tart shell, which provides a nice textural contrast to the smooth filling and also complements the sea salt. Use the leftover egg whites from the recipe to make amaretti. The filling needs a minimum of 4 hours to chill and set up. After the initial whisking, avoid stirring the filling as it cools or you will change its texture. It’s best to make the tart shells and the filling a day or two before you plan to serve the dessert.–Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren
LC No Tart Shell, No Problem Note
The author notes that if you want to make a simpler variation of this dessert, simply eliminate the tart shell and bake the budino filling in ramekins until set. Follow the recipe up until it is time to bake the filling, and instead of using a baking pan, pour the filling into eight 1-cup ramekins. Cover each ramekin tightly with aluminum foil and place the ramekins in a baking pan at least 2 inches deep. Carefully pour hot tap water into the baking pan until it comes two-thirds up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the edges appear to be set but the middle of the custard is still loose, about 40 minutes. Carefully remove the ramekins from the pan, let cool, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Chocolate Budino Tartlets
- Quick Glance
- 1 H
- 2 H, 40 M
- Serves 12
- For the budino filling
- 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao), coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- For the tart shells
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 3/4 cups "00" flour or all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably natural
- 7 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for buttering the tartlet pans
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the garnish
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, preferably gray
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Prepare the oven
- 1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
- Make the budino filling
- 2. Combine the bittersweet and milk chocolates in a heatproof bowl, place over (not touching) barely simmering water in a pot, and leave to melt.
- 3. Meanwhile, warm the milk in a small pot over medium heat, just until it begins to simmer. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, and then gradually whisk in the warm milk.
- 4. When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Strain the egg-yolk mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the melted chocolate and stir until combined.
- 5. In a small pot, heat 1 cup of the cream over medium heat, just until it begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and slowly stir the warm cream into the chocolate mixture. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream.
- 6. Pour the filling into a small baking pan (about 8 inches square) and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place the pan into a larger baking pan and pour warm tap water into the larger pan to come halfway up the sides of the smaller pan. Bake the filling for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the edges appear set but the center is loose and a bit runny.
- 7. Remove the pan from the water bath and briefly whisk the filling in the pan until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into another shallow pan and let cool completely, without stirring. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
- Make the tart shells
- 8. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream and set aside. In another bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until creamy and smooth. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture all at once, and mix for 1 minute, or until barely incorporated. Drizzle in the yolk mixture and mix briefly.
- 9. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for a couple of minutes until it comes together completely. Pat the dough into a round disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 days.
- 10. Lightly butter 12 tartlet pans, each 3 1/2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch deep. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough about 1/8 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or other template, cut out 4-inch rounds. Gather up the scraps of dough, roll it out again, and continue cutting out circles until you have 12 rounds in total. To line the pans, place a round in each pan and, starting from the center, gently press the dough against the bottom to flatten. Then, using your thumbs, press the dough firmly against the sides. With a paring knife, trim away the excess dough from the rim. Slip the lined pans into the freezer for 20 minutes before baking.
- 11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- 12. Transfer the pans from the freezer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until dry and firm to the touch. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool completely. Then gently remove the cooled tart shells from the pans and set aside.
- Assemble the tarts
- 13. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the chilled filling into the baked shell and gently level off the top with a small offset spatula or butter knife. Place the tarts on individual plates and sprinkle the top of each tart with about 1/8 teaspoon of the sea salt. Finish each tart with a generous drizzle of olive oil.