La Levitt looks forward to our parental visits to NYC as it provides her with the opportunity to dine (uhm) as she feels she should. Maialino being within walking distance to her apartment makes it is a frequent choice. Last summer I enjoyed a deeply flavorful Pistachio Budino or Pistachio Pudding with some fresh cherries and crushed amaretti cookies – divine. Imagine a rich pistachio cream garnished with deep ruby cherries, what a wonderful way to celebrate Valentines Day was my immediate thought and I began to develop the recipe as soon as I returned home.
Coincidence is an interesting phenomena; many of you know that my connections to Italy are multifaceted. As an importer of Italian wines under the name Girasole Imports LLC one of my more recent associations is with the Sicilian wine producer Assuli soon to visit for the prestigious Gambero Rosso Tre Biccheri in San Francisco. Pistachios, San Valentino, Sicilia – this couldn’t be any more fortuitous. Having a special relationship with our friends at Enoteca La Storia we collaborated to host a Valentine’s Day wine tasting to welcome Assuli along with special dolce representing Sicily and allora – Pistachio Budino would make its debut.
Recalling the intense pistachio flavor of the Pistachio Budino at Maialino, I was determined to create a pudding reflecting the true essesce of the noble pistachio. Grinding the shelled pistachios with a bit of sugar to release the oils, creating a rich paste and steeping the paste in heavy cream and milk did the trick.
Careful tempering of the eggs made finishing off the budino a snap. The results were precisely what I was looking for. The pistachio paste was so fine in texture that I decided not to strain the mixture.
Spoon into individual servings or small dessert glasses to refrigerate until service, Pistachio Budino can be prepared a day in advance. A garnish of Amarena Cherries and Pistachio Croccante to gild the lily so to speak rounded out the presentation.
Valentine’s Day is the time to make your loved one feel special and this desert is a make ahead dazzler. Come and visit us at Enoteca La Storia Valentine’s evening for a tasting of award winning Sicilian wines and sample Pistachio Budino for yourself.
- 1 cup of shelled unsalted pistachios
- ⅓ cup of granulated sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise and the seeds scraped
- 1 cup of whole milk
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
- 3 egg yolks, size large at room temperature
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbs. cornstarch
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, room temperature
- Amerena Cherries
- Pistachio Crocante
- Combine the pistachios and ⅓ cup of the granulated sugar in the work bowl of a food processor and process until a thick paste like substance forms. This will take some time, requiring that the work bowl of the food processor be scraped down several times until the mixture is homogeneous; the ground nuts will take on a darker color as the particles become smaller and the oil is released. Once you have reached this stage, add the 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and process once again until uniform.
- Have you serving glasses ready to fill once the budino is finished.
- Combine the remaining ⅓ cup of sugar and the cornstarch using a whisk, mixing well.
- Add the pistachio paste, vanilla beans and pod, milk and heavy cream to a heavy medium sized saucepan. Place over medium heat while whisking and stirring to help dissolve the pistachio paste until it seems to melt into the milk-cream. This will take some time and attention. Once the mixture becomes quite hot, but below a boil, cover the saucepan, remove from the heat and allow it to steep for 45 minutes.
- Combine the egg yolks and sugar/cornstarch using a whisk in a medium sized bowl.
- Once the 45 minutes is over, remove the vanilla pod from the saucepan. The pistachio base should still be rather warm. Add ¼ cup of the warm pistachio base to the egg yolks, whisking to create a cream, this will start the tempering process. Add another ¼ of a cup and do the same. Repeat the process two more times and then add the tempered egg yolk to the saucepan.
- Return the saucepan to the stove and place it on medium-low heat and cook until it becomes rather thick, just below the bubbling stage. You will need to use a whisk and heat proof spatula the entire time to insure that the budino cooks without sticking to the bottom or sides of the pan and remains smooth.
- Remove it from the heat and instantly whisk in the 2 tablespoons of butter.
- Spoon into individual serving glasses and cover the top of the pudding with a sheet of plastic wrap. Cool for 30 minutes before placing in the refrigerator.
- When ready to serve, garnish the budino with an Amerena Cherry and a piece of Pistachio Croccante.