Butterscotch Budino with Salted Shortbread Crumble

So the other day I shared this cute little dessert with friends at Olio Pizzeria, an upscale pizza joint in Santa Barbara with cracker-thin pizza crusts and a killer lineup of Italian wines by the glass. Mmmm, vino, I could go for a big glass of Sangiovese right about now...but I digress.

Aaaanyway, I didn't think much of it at the time, but I haven't been able to get that butterscotch pudding off my mind since that day, which did I mention was way back in November? Yeah. So you know this dessert is that good if it has literally been haunting my dreams for the last four months. Now this is fairly typical of me, to order something in a restaurant and then go off and make my own version of it at home...but why it took me this long to get around to it beats me, and I'm certainly kicking myself for it because I could eat this until the cows come home.

What stood out most to me about Olio's budino di zucchero di canna was that it had a salty bite that balanced out the rich sweetness of the pudding perfectly. If I remember correctly it came from a layer of salted caramel sauce, but I skipped the caramel for my version and instead I made a simple salted shortbread crumble, because I wanted a little bit of crunch (and also because I was lazy and didn't want to caramelize sugar a second time).

I'm not kidding when I say you need to make this. And you know what else you should do? Layer all the ingredients together parfait style in a mason jar, because who can resist anything sweet that comes in a mason jar? It's equally if not more delicious, it's exactly what I did with my budino leftovers and it was so freakin cute.

makes about 4 servings
for the pudding: 
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 egg
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup water
3/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. dark rum

for the toppings:
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. confectioner's sugar
3-4 shortbread biscuits
1/4 tsp. flaky sea salt

1. Mix cream and milk in large bowl. Whisk egg, egg yolks and cornstarch in medium bowl.
2. Stir sugar, water and salt in a medium sized pot over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Swirl the pot occasionally but do not stir, and brush down the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush. Boil until mixture turns dark amber in color and has a thick, syrupy texture, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Immediately whisk in cream mixture (mixture will bubble) and whisk constantly to dissolve the caramel bits. Bring mixture to a boil (keep an eye on it to prevent the pot from boiling over!) then reduce heat to medium.
4. Gradually whisk half of the hot caramel mixture into the egg mixture, then add entire contents back into the pot. Whisk over medium heat for a couple of minutes until the custard boils and begins to thicken. Remove from heat, then add butter and rum, stirring to incorporate.
5. Pass mixture through a fine mesh strainer and divide into 4 small bowls or mason jars. Refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours.
6. To make the whipped cream, combine the remaining 3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream with the confectioner's sugar in an electric mixer and whip until smooth peaks form. Crumble the shortbread biscuits by pulsing them in a food processor until large crumbs form, then transfer to a bowl and stir in flaky sea salt.
7. To assemble, top puddings with dollops of fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of the salted shortbread crumble, or layer ingredients evenly in mason jars.