Budino al Cioccolato con Vino Rosso
Budino al cioccolato is simply the Italian version of chocolate pudding, a classic dessert that is found across Italy. Like all of Italian cuisine, different regions and cooks bring their own flavors and flourishes to this rich spoon dessert.
Some versions call for eggs or egg yolks, others are “rigorosamente senza uova,” strictly egg-free. My mom always tossed a thin piece of lemon or orange peel into her chocolate budino. And when she was making an “adult” version she would spike it with a little coffee, Cognac, or amaretto.
The red wine in this recipe is my own addition, and while the notion of putting red wine in a dessert might sound a little odd, it is an idea firmly planted in Italian tradition. Consider caffe’ Valdostano, a classic treat from the north: a small cup of coffee laced with red wine, grappa, sugar and lemon peel. My Abruzzese frined Marta, owner of Il Marchese del Grillo B&B, in Sulmona, serves a decadent chocolate cake that has red wine both in the batter and in the chocolate glaze. The wine adds a pleasing fruity note that underlines the fruitiness of the chocolate itself.
This touch works just as well with chocolate pudding. This one, an eggless pudding, is creamy and smooth, almost like a mousse but without all the bother. It comes together easily on the stovetop and requires only a bit of stirring on your part. A garnish is not necessary, but a dollop of whipped cream is a nice finishing touch. This pudding is rich, so I like to serve it in espresso cups.
6 to 8 servings
Pour 1 1/2 cups of the milk into a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan and add the pod. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to break up the clumps of vanilla seeds. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the granulated sugar and a pinch of salt and whisk to combine. Whisk in the flour; the mixture will thicken immediately. Reduce the heat to low, add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the wine, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate and cinnamon, and whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Strain the vanilla-infused milk through a fine-mesh sieve into the chocolate mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until very thick, about 2 minutes. Pour the budino into espresso cups or small bowls. Cover with wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Serve as is, or with a dollop of whipped cream.