Vanilla Salted Caramel Budino Recipe

Layered desserts are just super-fun, right? If you dip your spoon "this" far, you can taste one of the layers. If you dip the spoon a little bit further, you get to combine more of the sweet layers. And who doesn't love playing whimsical games with their creamy desserts? This particular layered dessert is called a "budino," according to recipe developer Ting Dalton, who explains, "A budino is translated as custard or pudding in Italian." And while this recipe for vanilla salted caramel budino does involve quite a few steps — one of which is the heating of milk and eggs, which demands unbroken attention — we can assure you that it is totally and completely worth it. 

Starting with a first layer that is basically a cookie-crumb crust made from Lotus Biscoff biscuits (or the comparable American cookie, which is Trader Joe's Speculoos), it builds to a crescendo with a thick layer of salted-caramel-tinged custard. The layer above that is a river of sweet and salty, gooey, vanilla caramel. Then, the whole thing is topped with whipped cream and more cookie crumbs. If this sounds absolutely delightful to you, let's get into how you can prepare it right at home for a sweet treat.

Gather the ingredients to prepare vanilla salted caramel budino

For the cookie-crumb crust layer of your vanilla salted caramel budino, you'll need five ounces of crushed Lotus Biscoff biscuits, ¼ teaspoon of sea salt, and 2 tablespoons of butter, melted. For the custard layer, you'll need ¾ cup of brown sugar, 1 ½ cups of water, 3 more tablespoons of butter, 3 cups of whole milk, ¼ cup of cornstarch, five egg yolks, and 1 tablespoon of salt. For the vanilla salted caramel layer, you'll need 1 ¾ cups of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, ½ cup of superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon of corn syrup, another 4 tablespoons of butter, and another ¼ teaspoon of salt. For the final layer, the whipped topping, you'll need another cup of heavy cream and another 2 ounces of cookie crumbs.

For this recipe, you'll also need a candy thermometer and either a mason jar or a nice, deep dessert or parfait glass (the point being, you'll want to be able to see the beautiful layers).

Dalton notes that if you're so inclined, you can use a vanilla pod instead of vanilla extract. Also, feel free to use any cookie you'd like, including Speculoos, which are said to have the same caramel flavor profile as Biscoff Lotus biscuits (via LennyyUSAy). Don't hesitate to swap in graham crackers or chocolate wafers.

Prepare the first layer of your vanilla salted caramel budino

Begin by melting 2 tablespoons of the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. In a small to medium-sized bowl, combine 5 ounces of crushed Biscoff biscuits with ¼ teaspoon of the sea salt. Pour in the melted butter, and stir to combine. This will be your first layer of your vanilla salted caramel budino. Divide into six mason jars or dessert glasses. (Dalton says this should give you about 4 tablespoons of crumb mixture per serving.) Then, press down well into the bottom of each glass, and set them aside.

Make the custard

To make the custard layer of your vanilla salted caramel budino, follow these few mini steps. 

First, you're going to create a sugar syrup out of the dark brown sugar by mixing it with the water and heating the mixture to 220 F. (Start the heat at medium, and when the sugar begins to solve, turn up the heat). At that point, remove the skillet from the heat.

Now, it's time to create the custard's egg and milk base. Whisk together ½ cup of the milk with the cornstarch. Heat up the remaining 2 ½ cups of the milk in a saucepan on low until it starts to simmer. Then, whisk together the egg yolks in a large bowl, and carefully pour in the hot milk and then the milk-and-cornstarch mixer while continuing to whisk. Finally, add the sugar mixture to the custard base, pour the custard back into the skillet, and heat on medium for three to five minutes or until the mixture begins to thick.

At that point, it's time to take the skillet off the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the salt.

Spoon the custard into the mason jars

Divide the custard into your pre-prepared jars or glasses (the ones that you already layered with your cookie crumb mixture). Then, put the jars or glasses into the refrigerator. It will take around three to four hours for the custard to set and chill. In the meantime, while you're waiting, you can prep your ingredients for the salted caramel topping by adding the vanilla extract to ¾ cup of the heavy cream, and mix well to combine thoroughly.

Now, it's time to make the caramel topping

To make the caramel, you'll need your candy thermometer once again, in addition to your skillet. Heat the caster sugar, the corn syrup, and the remaining ¾ cup of water over medium heat until the sugar begins to dissolve. At that point, increase the heat to high. Remove it from the heat when the thermometer reads 250 F, at which point the mixture should have taken on an amber color and become syrupy rather than watery. Add the vanilla heavy cream mixture that you made earlier, and whisk for one minute. Then, add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the last ¼ teaspoon of the salt.

Whisk well, allowing the caramel to cool down. Once it's cool, pour the caramel layer over the custard layer. Now, you can pop the jars back into the refrigerator until you're ready to serve them. But there will still be another step at that point.

Whip the cream, top the jars with reserved crushed biscuits, and serve

When you are ready to show off your gorgeous and delicious vanilla salted caramel budino, you will first need to prepare the final layer: the cookie-crumb-topped whipped cream. But don't fret, because this layer is probably the easiest. Simply use electric beaters to whip the remaining cup of heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks. Spoon or pipe over the budino, and then sprinkle on the reserved cookie crumbs. You can make these well ahead of time, Dalton points out. "Make the budinos and caramel the day before, and then before serving whip up the fresh cream," Dalton says.

Vanilla Salted Caramel Budino Recipe
4.7 from 6 ratings
Starting with a first layer that's basically a cookie-crumb crust, this dessert builds to a crescendo with a thick layer of salted-caramel-tinged custard.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
20
minutes
Servings
6
servings
Vanilla Salted Caramel Budino
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 7 ounces of Lotus Biscoff biscuits, crushed
  • 9 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups water
  • 3 cups whole milk, divided
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
Directions
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. In a small to medium-sized bowl, combine 5 ounces of cookie crumbs with the melted butter and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Divide into six mason jars or dessert glasses, press down well into the bottom of each glass, and set aside.
  3. In a skillet, combine the brown sugar and 1 ½ cups of water, and heat to 220 F, then remove from heat.
  4. Whisk together ½ cup of milk with the cornstarch.
  5. Heat the remaining 2 ½ cups of milk in a saucepan on low until simmering.
  6. Whisk together the 6 egg yolks in a large bowl. Carefully pour the egg yolks into the hot milk, and add the milk-and-cornstarch mixer while continuing to whisk to combine.
  7. Add the brown sugar mixture to the custard. Then, pour the custard back into the skillet, and heat on medium for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken.
  8. Remove from heat, and stir in 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of salt.
  9. Divide the custard into the mason jars/glasses, and chill in the refrigerator until set, 3 to 4 hours.
  10. Add the vanilla extract to ¾ cup of the heavy cream, and mix well to combine thoroughly.
  11. Heat the caster sugar, corn syrup, and remaining ¾ cup of water over medium heat until the sugar begins to dissolve. At that point, increase the heat to high until thermometer reads 250 F.
  12. Add the vanilla heavy cream mixture that you made earlier, and whisk for 1 minute. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Whisk well, allowing the caramel to cool down.
  13. Once cool, pour this caramel layer over the custard layer, and chill until ready to serve
  14. Use electric beaters to whip the remaining cup of heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks.
  15. Spoon or pipe over the budino, sprinkle on the reserved cookie crumbs, and serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 787
Total Fat 55.3 g
Saturated Fat 31.7 g
Trans Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 275.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 64.7 g
Dietary Fiber 0.5 g
Total Sugars 45.5 g
Sodium 909.7 mg
Protein 9.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe