Much has been written on the art of dinner conversation, but when it comes to dessert – especially one as exquisite as this – you’ll be lost for words. Recanting the experience, however, guests described the experience as ‘ludicrous’, ‘at once light and rich’, and ‘oh my…what have you done?’

Budino is the Italian word for pudding, which is all this is, but taken to rapturous heights. Maple sugar is certainly a luxury, yet essential for that deep, resolutely and deliciously Canadian flavour – but could be swapped for light golden sugar. 

Makes 10 servings 

1 ½ cups whole milk
3 cups 35% cream
1 ¼ cups maple sugar (link to: how to make)
½ cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons cornstarch
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup 35% cream, whipped to soft peaks for garnish

For the caramel sauce
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
½ cup water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup 35% whipping cream
½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Combine milk and cream and set aside. 
  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add the maple sugar, water, and salt. Swirl together letting the maple sugar swirl-dissolve into the water. Resist the temptation to stir, which could make the liquid crystallize. Cook until you have a dark caramel colour – about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the cream-milk mixture. It will sputter, so be careful. Return to the heat and continue to stir until the maple caramel is fully dissolved and reduce heat to medium.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Add a cup of the hot cream mixture to the yolks and whisk furiously. Pour the yolk mixture back into the hot cream and cook over medium heat until the custard is very thick and fully cooked, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla.
  4. Pass the custard through a fine mesh sieve to remove and lumps. 
  5. Pour into 10 6-oz mason jars or ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until cold.
  6. To make the caramel sauce: Combine water and sugar in heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat; swirl pan until sugar dissolves. Again, don’t stir – you don’t want taffy here. Continue cooking until mixture turns deep caramel colour. Remove from heat and let cool slightly then whisk in cream, butter, and salt. It’ll bubble and hiss, but don’t stop stirring until you have a smooth sauce. Stir in the vanilla extract and store chilled in a covered container.
  7. To serve: warm caramel sauce over medium-high heat (or microwave for about 45 seconds) and drizzle 1-2 Tbsp over each budino. Let cool and add a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Recipe inspired by Osteria Mozzo (Los Angeles, California) adapted by Gluggable.