Dangerously Good Desserts At Pizzeria Ortica

It's not often that hubby and I nearly come to blows over dessert (or anything else, I hasten to add), but we had a very close call during a recent meal at Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa. (For Edwin's review of the sleek eaterie, CLICK HERE).

Our bellies already filled with pies, we thought we were being "good" (I hate that expression) by sharing the Budino di Cioccolato. OK, I know, that's Italian for Chocolate Pudding, which really should've tipped us off.

Then it arrived.

Until that point, the meal had been amicable and enjoyable--a tasting of hubby's pizza was swiftly followed by a reciprocal offer from me. The soft drink refills were coming at us thick and fast, the service was slow but friendly.

So far so good.

But one look at this dessert of desserts and we knew we had a problem. Our eyes locked. The mood changed. The gauntlet had been thrown down.

First, the presentation. This was no ordinary pudding, dessert or whatever you want to call it. It was a striped concoction comprising layer upon layer of caramel and chocolate, all topped off with a mound of whipped cream. It was almost too good to eat--or so I tried telling my husband.

I tried fobbing him off with the tiny sprig of mint on top, hoping I could then make the first move on the proper stuff, but he was having none of it.

It was all over within twenty seconds. By the end we were clashing spoons in a most unruly manner, and if it hadn't been served in a glass jar I'm pretty sure we'd have fought over who got to lick the bowl.

We almost ordered a second pudding, but reminded ourselves that we'd just eaten our way through caramel, chocolate and cream, and that our bodies wouldn't thank us in the morning, or one month later, when we were still trying to get rid of the excess flab.

To save us from embarrassing ourselves again in future, the folks at Pizzeria Ortica have been kind enough to share the recipe with us (see below).

Don't say we didn't warn you: if you only make one between two people, you've only got yourselves to blame.

On the other hand, if it does turn nasty, I'm pretty sure no jury would convict.

Pizzeria Ortica's Budino di Cioccolato

Update: I should point out that is four servings, but, seriously, even if there are only two of you, there will be no leftovers!

Caramel Budino
 6 oz. cream
 3 oz. milk
 1.5 oz. sugar
 pinch of salt
 1 whole egg
 1 tablespoon corn starch
 1 tablespon dark rum

Caramelize sugar dry in medium size sauce pot. Heat milk and cream until just boiling. Once sugar is caramelized, slowly add cream mixture while whisking. Use caution as steam will burn. Once fully incorporated add salt, place over high heat and allow to come to boil. Turn off heat. In a separate bowl, whisk egg with cornstarch.  Add rum.  Slowly add caramel cream into egg mixture, constantly whisking. Place back into saucepot. Place over medium heat and cook until thickens to custard consistency, about 4 minutes.

Chocolate Budino
 7 oz. milk
 2 oz. cream
 3 egg yolks
 1 tablespoon corn syrup
 12 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
 1/4 of orange, zested

Bring milk, cream, corn syrup and orange zest to boil. Slowly add egg yolks.  When completely incorporated, strain out orange zest and pour mixture back into saucepot. Place over medium heat, using a candy thermometer, bring up to 183 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat, add chopped milk chocolate, mix until smooth.

In desired serving dish:
Ladle 4 oz. milk chocolate budino. Place in refrigerator and allow to set for 5 minutes. Remove from refrigerator, ladle 2 oz. caramel budino over the milk chocolate layer.

Serve with whipped cream and (optional) fresh berries.


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