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White Chocolate Budini

White Chocolate Budini

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Makes 6 servings.
By Dennis W. Viau; an original recipe.

Budini is Italian for pudding. This dessert is similar to flan, but it uses sweetened white polenta (corn meal) rather than custard. For a sweet topping on the molded puddings, I put slices of banana in the ramekins before adding the caramelized sugar. For a dramatic presentation, you can flambé the liquor before serving.

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray
1 banana, ripe but free of blemishes
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, divided
2 cups (475ml) whole milk
¾ cup (177ml) heavy cream, divided
1 cinnamon stick 2 to 3 inches (about 5 to 8cm) long
5 ounces (142g) white chocolate; finely chopped (or white chocolate morsels)
1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon (65g) white corn meal (polenta)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 lemon; cut in half crosswise
¼ cup (60ml) fresh orange juice (or orange flavored liqueur)
3 tablespoons maraschino liqueur
1½ tablespoons Cognac or other brandy

Directions:

Spray 6 5-ounce (148ml) ramekins lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Slice the banana thinly, about ¼-inch (.6cm) thin, and arrange three slices in the bottom of each ramekin.

In a medium saucepan heat 1/3 cup (65g) of the sugar with 2½ tablespoons of water until it comes to the boil and the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, without stirring, until the sugar caramelizes (changes to a golden color). Carefully (it’s hot!) pour the melted sugar into the bottom of the ramekins, dividing it equally. Set aside to cool and harden.

In a medium saucepan heat the milk, ½ cup (120ml) of cream, and the cinnamon stick until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to stand 10 minutes.

In a large saucepan combine 1/3 cup (65g) of the sugar, white chocolate, and polenta. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick from the hot milk mixture. Add the milk to the polenta mixture, whisking constantly until combined. Heat over medium heat, whisking to break up any lumps, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the polenta has thickened well, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

In a medium bowl combine remaining ¼ cup (60ml) heavy cream with the whole egg and the egg yolk. Whisk to blend well. While whisking the polenta, slowly add the egg mixture and continue mixing until fully incorporated. Return to the heat and cook 2 minutes.

Immediately divide the hot polenta among the six ramekins, gently pressing the mixture into the dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 to 6 hours, preferably overnight.

In a shallow pan or skillet, heat the remaining 1/3 cup (65g) of the sugar with 2½ tablespoons of water until it comes to the boil and the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, without stirring, until the sugar caramelizes (changes to a golden color). Meanwhile, cut the lemon in half crosswise and pierce one half with a fork, such that the flat open end faces outward, away from the handle of the fork.

In a slow and steady stream, add the orange juice, stirring with the forked lemon to dissolve any lumps that form. Add the liqueur and Cognac and ignite with a match. After the flames subside, simmer 10 minutes to reduce. Remove from the heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Use a thin knife to loosen each budini and then invert the ramekin onto a serving plate. If any of the banana slices stick to the ramekin, carefully remove with the knife and place on top of the budini. Spoon some of the caramel syrup on each budini and serve.