Budino is Italian for pudding, and I’m assuming this recipe is Italian in origin because it comes to us from Craig Stoll, owner of San Francisco’s Delfina. (Oh, SF, any mention of you sends prickles of homesickness down my spine.) What I can tell you is that it’s part souffle, part gooey lemon-y goodness. Especially if it’s countered with a mascarpone whipping cream, which rounds out its fruitiness.
I can also tell you that I love love love Meyer lemons, which I eat, raw, just like oranges, except I cut them in quarters and rip out their flesh with my teeth (kind of like how Chinese people eat oranges—or is this practice more international than I realize?).
I kind of realized along the way (the ‘way’ being the entire circuitous route I’ve taken to learning to bake) that I don’t really care for baked lemon desserts. I’m talking about tarts and pies, and those bar things that people always seem to make a huge fuss over. It’s probably a cultural thing. Chinese people don’t generally cook fruit into desserts, instead, preferring to eat it on its own, so it feels incongruous to pair its freshness and natural-ness with butter, dough, and high temperatures.
But Meyer lemon desserts, they’re in a league of their own. Meyer lemons possess a whole other dimension of floral-ness, a fragrance that reminds me of Asian dessert flavors like green tea and red bean and black sesame. It’s quieter, sweeter, less in-your-face. In fact, I’m rethinking my stance on lemon-y desserts, as long as they’re made with Meyer lemons. I would probably like Meyer-lemon lemon bars, and Meyer-lemon lemon meringue pie, and Meyer-lemon lemon shortbread. I know I like it in this budino.
Hint: it’s wonderful warm and fresh out of the oven, BUT if you give it a chance to sit in the fridge overnight, it is even better the next day. By then, three distinct layers will have formed: the dreamy pudding on the bottom, the feathery sponge cake layer on top, and an incredibly lush cheesecake-like layer in between. It is excellent. Excellent!
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 Tbsp finely grated Meyer lemon peel
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the mascarpone whipped cream:
1/2 cup chilled mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 4 to 6 ramekins. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, flour, lemon juice, and lemon peel in large bowl; whisk until well blended. Whisk in milk.
Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in medium bowl until frothy. Gradually add remaining 2 Tbsp sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold beaten egg whites into lemon mixture in 2 additions. Divide mixture among prepared custard cups. Place custard cups in roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of custard cups. Bake puddings until tops are golden and spring back when lightly touched, about 25 to 30 minutes (keep an eye on them—in some ovens, they’ll bake faster). Remove cups from water and let cool. Serve warm or cold with mascarpone whipped cream, recipe below.
For the mascarpone whipped cream:
Combine the mascarpone, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk until thick soft peaks form. Refrigerate for a few hours.