When we hear and read about how the Philippines has the longest Christmas season in the world, we know it’s no exaggeration. It isn’t even Halloween yet but in the malls, Christmas trees and decor are already up for sale alongside the scary masks, monster costumes and pumpkin baskets.
In my house, the holiday season starts a bit later. Still before Halloween but not as early as the appearance of Christmas decor in the malls. In my house, Christmas starts on my birthday. October the 20th. From that day on, it just seems that the feasting never stops until after the New Year. I don’t know why. It might be because I’m a food blogger and I want to publish my Christmassy recipes weeks before people start shopping for holiday food. It might also be because my birthday is the perfect excuse to start indulging.
Whatever. The feasting has begun and it isn’t even my birthday yet. We were planning on having a family party (three birthday celebrants in the family this month — me, my brother-in-law and his best girl) and I told Speedy I’m “practicing” and “experimenting” with some recipes so that they’d be perfect by party time. But the party has been postponed indefinitely. My mother-in-law is ill, she’s in the hospital as I write this and, well, a family party isn’t the same without her. In fact, it was she who initiated the idea of another joint party like last year and the year before that. So, last night, when I saw her at the hospital, I told her to get well soon because we won’t have the party without her.
Without knowing exactly when the party will take place, I’m still “practicing” and “experimenting” nonetheless. Two days ago, I deboned a jumbo chicken and made chicken relleno (there is an old recipe in the archive but the one I made two days ago was better and I’ll be posting the new recipe soon). Earlier today, I made budino. Budino is Italian for pudding. But not the bread kind. It’s a custard — softer than leche flan, the consistency more like creme brulee and, in this recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit, the budino is served with crushed chocolate cookies and gooey salted caramel sauce. So, soooo wickedly delicious.
Budino With Salted Caramel Sauce
For the cookie crumbs
- 4 to 6 chocolate cookie sandwiches (a.k.a. Oreo or Cream-O)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 pinch kosher salt
For the pudding
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup evaporated milk diluted with 2/3 c. of water (or the equivalent in full cream milk)
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup dark brown sugar depending on how sweet you like your pudding
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Crush the cookies. Use a rolling pin or a food processor. Stir in the melted butter and salt.
- Reserve about two tablespoonfuls of the cookie mixture. Press the rest into the bottom of two to three glasses. Set aside.
- Lightly beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl.
- Divide the milk into two portions. Stir the corn starch into one portion of the milk. In a pan, heat the second portion just until bubbly.
- Pour the hot milk very slowly into the egg yolks, stirring as you pour. You’re tempering the egg yolks so they won’t curdle during cooking. Stir in the milk-starch mixture as well.
- Pour the egg-milk-starch mixture back into pan. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Taste to make sure that no starchy (powdery) sensation hits the tongue before you stop cooking.
- Divide the pudding among the prepared cookie-lined glasses. You should have enough for two to three, depending on the size of your glasses. Chill the pudding for a couple of hours.
- To serve, drizzle two to three tablespoonfuls of the caramel sauce over the pudding. Top with a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle with the reserved cookie crumbs.