Classic: Budino al Cioccolato

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I sometimes feel like I lead two different lives. There’s my (sort of) tidy life here on the blog, where I pop up every week or two (or three) with a new recipe, an anecdote, an update.

Then there’s the other life, the one in which I’ve been more or less chained to my stovetop and my computer these last few months testing and writing recipes at breakneck speed for two projects, while also trying to promote a new book. The one in which one kid will be heading off to college in the fall and the other is beginning the search and application process. The one in which my elderly parents grow more frail with each passing day. The one in which I haven’t worked out in weeks and the fridge is in desperate need of cleaning.

Insomma, the typical life of a middle-aged working woman, harried, squeezed, with much to worry about and much to be thankful for. I’m not alone; everyone around me seems to be moving through life at full-tilt ~ no doubt you are, too. I should make us all a giant sandwich, right? For obvious metaphorical reasons.

Instead I’m making pudding, because pudding makes everything better.

budino in pot

No, it doesn’t. Pudding makes nothing better, but it sometimes feels like it makes things better. This pudding does, anyway. It’s classic budino al cioccolato, something my mom used to make for my sister and me, and something I wish I had made more for my kids when they were little. I recently worked up a variation for one of my projects, a new edition of Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, and I was reminded how easy it is. I can’t share that recipe just yet, but I can share this classic version, based on my mom’s.

Just milk, chocolate, sugar, flour, butter. No eggs. Rigorosamente senza uova, as they say, in keeping with Italian tradition. Even a harried person like me can put this together in no time. And it’s good ~ creamy and smooth, almost like a mousse but without all the bother. It tastes like relaxation.

I couldn’t tell you why I didn’t make it when my kids were little ~ they’ve always loved chocolate. The years just passed while we were doing (and eating) other things.

But I made a big batch the other day and we’ve all been enjoying it. You can make it with milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate. But in my opinion it’s best with bittersweet chocolate (spiked with a little Cognac, now that the kids are older). Bittersweet because, well, forget the metaphors. Just make the budino. And slow down enough to savor it.

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Ciao Biscotti: Here’s a fun little biscotti how-to video I did with the Washington Post. Stay tuned for updates on book signings, cooking demos, and other events.

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Makes about 8 servings

Budino al Cioccolato | Chocolate Pudding

This traditional Italian chocolate pudding requires no eggs and is a snap to make. Use the best-quality chocolate you can find and add a little Cognac to further punch up the flavor. Serve it from a large, decorative bowl or in individual cups.


  • 2 cups whole milk or 1 1/2 cups milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Cognac (optional)

  • Whipped cream for serving


Bring the milk (or milk and cream) to a boil in a high-sided saucepan set over medium heat. As soon as the milk begins to boil, remove it from the heat.

In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the sugar (1/3 to 1/2 cup depending on how sweet you like your pudding) and salt; then whisk in the flour. The mixture will be thick. Whisk in a ladleful of the hot milk to loosen the mixture. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted. Gradually pour in the rest of the milk and whisk until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and 1 to 2 tablespoons Cognac. Cook, stirring continuously, for a few minutes, until the pudding is smooth and quite thick. Remove from the heat.

Brush a serving bowl or soufflé dish with the remaining Cognac, or film the inside of individual serving cups with a little Cognac. (This step is optional). Pour the hot pudding into the bowl or cups and let cool briefly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight, until completely chilled. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

NOTE Don't worry if you have leftovers; this pudding keeps beautifully, covered in the fridge, for at least a week.

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22 Responses to Classic: Budino al Cioccolato

  1. Kathleen (Katia) Shepard March 15, 2015 at 8:11 am #

    Grazie mille, Domenica. I share your sentiments! Life just gets too complicated sometimes! Will definitely try this recipe……maybe for my grown kids & grandchildren soon! I loved your video AND the Hazelnut Biscotti (added grated orange rind since I didn’t have the extract) and the Vin Santo Almond Hazelnut Biscotti which I made yesterday to rave reviews from one son & daughter-in-law! I will definitely be working my way through “Ciao Biscotti” in my kitchens and spreading the word! Complimenti e Buona Domenica!

    • Domenica Marchetti March 16, 2015 at 8:40 am #

      Kathleen, so glad to hear you and your family are enjoying Ciao Biscotti. Many thanks, amica!

  2. Rosa Jeanne Mayland March 15, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    A delightful dessert! Wonderfully chocolaty and so luscious.



  3. Mark A. Bauman March 15, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    Ciao Domenica-

    Loved your post about Budino. Yes, this kind of “comfort-food” dish doesn’t change anything in our lives, but it makes things temporarily better without resorting to dangerous or illicit substances.
    I have fond memories of my late mother making lots of “chocolate pudding”, from a box, as a child.
    I think I sent you photos of the CIA Boot Camp I attended a few months ago. I may have also mentioned that I was given permission, since I am good friends with the head chef and maitre d’instructor/sommelier at their Caterina de’ Medici Ristorante to observe in their kitchen while waiting for my classes to begin in the afternoon. The first day, besides just observing, the chef, Gianni, who is from the Veneto, put me right to work to make Budino al cioccolato, with a recipe just like yours as dolce for their lunch service. I got to snitch just a little. I’m going to have make yours sometime soon.
    I imagine Italians have a similar concept to Americans when it comes to “comfort-food” dishes, but I usually think of things like pasta dishes, etc. Thanks for the fond memories.

    A presto-


    • Domenica Marchetti March 16, 2015 at 8:43 am #

      Thanks for your comment, Mark. I don’t know i I’d survive CIA boot camp. Maybe with budino…Also, I remember that chocolate pudding from a box. I seem to recall a brand named Royal, right? Cheers, D

  4. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way March 16, 2015 at 5:55 am #

    I think it’s the creaminess that makes us think of comfort. You are right on about busy!! I can’t believe how busy I am and my children are all grown. I can relate with your parents — I ended up being their caregiver — I wish they were still here. On your recipe, could you substitute cornstarch for the flour? Although I use both as a thickener, in sweets I usually would use cornstarch. I’m not a chef nor have I studies the culinary arts so I didn’t know if there would be a chemical element in that would alter the final product. Grazie per la ricetta!!

    • Domenica Marchetti March 16, 2015 at 8:44 am #

      Marisa, I haven’t tried it with cornstarch but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I wonder why you opt for cornstarch over flour for sweets? I may try cornstarch next time I make this and see if there’s a difference.

      • Marisa Franca @ All Our Way March 16, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

        Normally I’ve used cornstarch because when I started cooking that was what they called for in the cookbooks I used. I may have to conversely follow what you do and try the flour. Please let us know how you find it.

  5. phil March 16, 2015 at 7:04 am #

    add crushed amaretto cookies in the piemontese style…deelish !!!

  6. sippitysup March 16, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    Yay, no grit from cornstarch! GREG

  7. ciaochowlinda March 16, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

    Life does get complicated, but it wouldn’t be that way if there weren’t so many loved ones in our lives. We don’t always show the challenges in our public face, but we all have them. So when some chocolate budino comes to mind, I say take the time to enjoy and put a little comfort in your life. Buonissimo. Grazie per la ricetta.

  8. Betty Ann Quirino March 17, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

    Oh my, this looks and sounds heavenly. I must try your Budino al Cioccolato and just drown in it. I hear you and imagine how hectic things are. It will be okay, try not to worry. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy what you made here. Can I substitute the whole milk with almond milk instead? Or soy? I’m asking for my son and me, we switched milks lately. Thanks, Domenica.

  9. Marie March 17, 2015 at 11:27 pm #

    Domenica, You sure have a lot on your plate, literally! Try and take some “me time” for yourself to refresh your thoughts and get re-energized. You have some exciting and challenging things ahead, life is hard sometimes, but it’s a beautiful thing!
    Crazy question, but do you think I could use almond flour in your dreamy Budino?

  10. Susan And Wade March 25, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

    You do indeed have a lot on your plate! Having just lost my Dad, I will tell you NOTHING is more important than time with our parents…life happens quickly and everything seems to “get in the way” of family time.
    My Hubby loves to make “pudding” so I’ll definitely share this recipe with him – of course, I totally benefit from sharing, right?! LOL!
    Keep up the great blog!

    • Domenica Marchetti March 26, 2015 at 9:31 am #

      Benvenuti Susan and Wade. Thank you for reading, and please accept my sincerest condolences for the loss of your Dad. Yes, family time is paramount for sure. I’m glad you stopped by. I hadn’t known about your blog and look forward to reading it.

      • Susan And Wade March 26, 2015 at 11:53 am #

        Thanks so much for the kind words. Look forward to reading more of your blog!

  11. David January 7, 2017 at 7:01 pm #

    Sounds fantastic, Dominica! Will give this a try and await your verdict on the gianduia!

  12. Heather January 18, 2017 at 11:58 pm #

    I Made this recipe with unsweetened chocolate and just 1/3 cup of sugar. I used 5 tablespoons of butter and it tastes amazing.


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