Rich, thick, decadent, creamy, all rolled into one amazing dessert recipe. Can you think of anything better? Italian butterscotch budino is just that. A cross between custard and pudding, this show-stopping make-ahead dessert is as easy as it is delicious.
While I am a true lover of chocolate desserts, I honestly think butterscotch is my favorite dessert flavor ever. I have many recipes that showcase butterscotch like blondies, banana bread, pie, and even ice cream, but the velvety texture of budino might make this my best one yet.
What does budino mean?
Budino is the Italian word for pudding. It is really a cross between a pudding and a custard though, as this recipe calls for both the use of cornstarch (like pudding) and egg (like custard). This produces a velvety, thick budino that with the addition of a deep;y flavored butterscotch is as unique as it is delicious.
Like pudding or custard, budino needs time to chill and set up in the fridge, making this a fancy, make-ahead dessert for a dinner party.
The difference between butterscotch and caramel
Butterscotch is basically cooked brown sugar and butter, and then hitting it with cream and vanilla. It is different from caramel in that caramel is made with the browning of white sugar, not brown sugar. I usually find that people are either butterscotch or caramel people…I am butterscotch. This is just a deeper flavor.
This is a good read on the differences.
- Dark brown sugar. I prefer to use dark brown sugar in butterscotch for the deep flavor, but you can use light brown sugar.
- Cornstarch. For thickening, like in a traditional American pudding.
- Heavy cream
- Egg yolks. For thick, rich and extra creaminess, like in a custard base.
- Butter. Adding a bit of butter will round out the budino and give it a gorgeous, glossy shine.
- Vanilla. I use vanilla bean paste, but you can also use extract.
- Salt. Because like caramel, butterscotch flavor is greatly enhanced by the addition of salt.
Italian Budino is as easy to make as any other pudding or custard, even with the addition of butterscotch.
- Start by mixing the brown sugar with the cornstarch and some of the salt.
- Heat the cream and milk and add the vanilla, then stir in the brown sugar corn starch. Cook this until the sugar is dissolved.
- In another bowl, you'll whisk the egg yolks with a bit of additional brown sugar until light and fluffy.
- You will then SLOWLY add some (not all) of the hot cream mixture to the beaten egg yolks. This is called tempering the yolks, which is a delicate way of cooking them so they stay smooth and creamy and don't turn into scrambled egg, while vigorously whisking. Everything goes back into the saucepan and continues being cooked and stirred until it is thick and creamy. I looked for the first decent-sixed bubble to pop up and then I knew it was done.
- After you take the pan off the heat you stir in the butter until melted and incorporated.
The budino has to cool for a minimum of four hours to fully thicken, but can be kept overnight or even up to three days in the fridge, making this the perfect make-ahead dessert recipe.
How to serve
This creamy butterscotch budino is perfectly delicious served by itself with a bit of whipped cream. I make this often for parties because of how easy it is to serve in individual dishes for each guest. Some other ideas for serving:
- As sort of individual parfaits on top of chunks of chocolate brownies (as shown in these pictures. Chocolate and butterscotch go together nicely and it is truly a stunning dessert. I sprinkle some chocolate shavings and a little sea salt on top for a little extra texture.
- A super popular way I often see butterscotch budino recipes is served with salted caramel on the top. While I have not eaten this way, I have no doubt this would be amazing. And this is one of my favorite quick and easy caramel recipes in case you'd like to try it..
I cannot stress how important it is to really whisk while adding the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks. This is essentially cooking the egg, and I promise you, you'll end up with scrambled eggs in your custard if you'd don't do this (it has happened to me before).
Looking for other make-ahead dessert recipes? Try these:
- Sauce pan
- small glass serving dishes
- ⅔ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch sifted
- ¼ teaspoon salt sea salt or kosher
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- 2 tablespoon butter softened
- In a bowl, whisk ⅔ cup dark brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat the cream and milk until just steaming. Add the vanilla bean paste.
- Stir the sugar mixture into the cream and continue mixing until sugar is dissolved. Continue stirring over medium heat until milk/cream is very hot, but not boiling.
- While milk/cream is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar in a separate bowl.
- Gently pour some (like maybe a third) of the hot cream/milk into the yolks. Again, whisk this constantly or you will end up with scrambled egg budino, I promise you.
- Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the pan. Keep the heat on medium, stir continuously until super smooth and thickened and creamy. I looked for the first decent-sized bubble to pop up and then I took it off.
- Move the saucepan off the heat. Stir in the butter until melted, this will make for a rich and shiny pudding.
- Spoon the budino into serving dishes, cover with plastic wrap, and put in fridge to chill and set up completely, at least four hours.