After viewing a digital photo my papa took of my grandparents, my grandma replied “oh si, look how old we look!” “you! you look old!” he quipped back.

So I know when it comes to dessert, he will tell it like it is.  The last time I made dessert for my grandpa, a coconut panna cotta with a guava mousse and roast pineapple, he told me “you’ve done better”.  For the last father’s day I will be spending with my family for a few years, I knew I had to make something memorable… something that will stand up to his all time favorite orange jell-o.

After the entertainment portion of the meal, an accordion performance courtesy of my papa, grandpa sat at the table which only had fruit, and said “is that it?! I want cake!”.  So even before my mother was done with her very short (and emotional, duh) toast my grandpa was already spoon deep in his cake.  “how is it grandpa?” I asked before even taking a taste myself: “very good.” He said without looking away from the nearly empty glass. “Very very good”.

Caramel Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce
(Courtesy of Bon Appetit)


Cookie Crust
1 cup finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers; about 20 cookies)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups whole milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Salted Caramel Sauce
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Lightly sweetened whipped cream


Cookie Crust
Mix cookie crumbs, butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Place 2 tablespoons in a small bowl; cover and chill for garnish. Press 2 tablespoons cookie mixture onto the bottom of each of eight 8-ounce mason jars or ramekins.

1.  Whisk 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside. Heat remaining 2 1/2 cups milk in a small saucepan just to a simmer; set aside. To make caramel, stir sugar and 3/4 cup water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; cook without stirring until an instant-read thermometer registers 210°–220°
2.  Line a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a large pitcher. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk, then cornstarch mixture. Slowly whisk in caramel. Return mixture to saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and a thermometer registers 175°, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, rum, and salt. Pour through prepared sieve.
3.  Pour 1/2 cup budino over crust in each jar. Cover; chill until set, 4–5 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.)

Salted Caramel Sauce
1.  Place cream in a small pitcher. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Set aside.
2.  Stir sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high; boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until deep amber color forms, 5–6 minutes. Remove from heat; gradually add vanilla cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk over medium heat until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and salt. Strain into a heatproof bowl. Let cool slightly.

Spoon 2 tablespoons caramel sauce over each budino. Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle some of reserved cookie crumbs over each.