Salted Caramel Budino

Bu-di-no \ boo ‘dee no \ — Italian for custard or pudding.

As my sister told me about the fabulous Budino she had sampled at a local restaurant, I knew I needed to recreate it at home.

The smooth, creamy pudding or custard paired with salted caramel she described sounded so enticing.

Written by: ERICA KASTNER of Cooking for Seven

I was not at all disappointed with my homemade version of this delectable Italian treat.

Well, that’s a bit of an understatement.

The flavors in these pudding parfaits were absolutely amazing: rich custard accented by chocolate cookie crumbles; the meeting of salty and sweet in the caramel.

Oh, it was heavenly.

I must admit that the caramel sauce that pairs with this custard was a bit of a failure at first.

The recipe, I’m sure, was not to blame.

But I have never been good at judging when sugar is “dark amber,” so my first attempt at the sauce was rather watery.

The method of soaking the vanilla beans in the cream was brilliant, however.

So I made my trusty caramel recipe instead, with the addition of the vanilla beans in the cream.

I loved the flecks of vanilla seeds in the sauce – so pretty!

Since this recipe made many more budini than Reuben and I could eat by ourselves, we served it to our family. 

It was a huge success. 

My older sister, who was sick with a nasty cold, particularly enjoyed it.

“Thank you, Erica,” she sighed as she savored her small dish of custard.

That made my night.

Looking for more delicious dessert recipes?

What salty/sweet pairings do you enjoy?

Salted Caramel Budino

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time:20 minutes

Cook Time:30 minutes

Total Time:50 minutes

Layers of chocolate cookie crumbles, rich caramel custard, salted caramel sauce and whipped cream make up this scrumptious Italian dessert.


For the Cookie Crust:
1 cup finely crushed chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (such as Nabisco Chocolate Wafters or World Table Chocolate Cookie Thins), about 20 cookies
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

For the Budino:
3 cups whole milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup water
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or dark rum
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/8-1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Extra coarse sea salt
Whipping cream


For the Cookie Crust:
In a small bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs, butter and salt. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the mixture in a covered bowl and refrigerate. Press 2 tablespoons of the crumbs into the bottoms of each of eight 8-ounce containers (you can use mason jars or whatever other pretty containers you have on hand).

For the Budino:
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the milk and the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the remaining milk just until simmering. Set aside.

To make the caramel stir the sugar and water together in a heavy saucepan set over medium heat until all the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook without stirring until an instant read thermometer reads between 210-215 degrees F.

Have ready a large, heat-proof pitcher. Place the egg yolks in a large heat-proof bowl and whisk. Gradually whisk in the hot milk; add the cornstarch mixture. Slowly whisk in the caramel. Return custard to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and an instant-read thermometer registers 175 degrees F, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Whisk in the butter, vanilla and salt. Pour into the heat-proof pitcher.

Pour 1/2 cup of the budino into each of the prepared jars. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until set, about 3-5 hours.

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:
Place the cream into a small pitcher and scrape in the vanilla seeds and the pod. Set aside.

Place the sugar in medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon the whole time.

Once the sugar has completely melted, add the butter pieces, one at a time. Whisk until the butter has completely melted before adding another piece.

Wait for about 3 seconds, then add the vanilla cream slowly. Whisk until nice and smooth. Add the salt and whisk to combine. Strain into a heat proof bowl and let cool slightly.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce over each chilled budino. Sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream and the reserved cookie crumbles. Enjoy!


You can make the custard up to 1 day in advance, keeping chilled.

by Erica Kastner

Erica is a wife and new-mom-in-training with a desire to cook delicious food for her husband Reuben (AKA love of her life). She loves to experiment and adapt recipes to be a tad healthier and shares her culinary successes on her blog, Buttered Side Up. She also writes about life as a mom and shares hair style and simple DIY tutorials over on Simple Days.