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1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, scald (heat to just below boiling) 3 ¼ ounces heavy cream.
2. Place 2 ½ ounces chopped milk chocolate (for a richer flavor, substitute dark chocolate) in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds.
3. Stir slowly with a spatula to incorporate; strain through a chinois if desired. Use the ganache as a delicious base for chocolate mousse or hot chocolate, as a dip for pretzels or fresh fruit, or as a decadent frosting for cupcakes or tortes.
BONUS: A Recipe for Pizzeria Locale’s Butterscotch Budino
This heavenly pudding is well worth the effort, but you’ll need to pay close attention to avoid burning the caramel. You can prepare it ahead of time and keep it chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. That detail makes this dessert the perfect treat for a large gathering.
24 ounces heavy cream
12 ounces milk
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
3 ½ ounces water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
4 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Scald the milk and cream and set aside to keep warm.
Place brown sugar, water, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally to keep the mixture from scorching, about 10 to 12 minutes or until the mixture reaches 240°. The mixture should be a deep brown color and smell nutty and caramelized.
Immediately whisk the warmed cream mixture into the sugar to stop the sugar from cooking; the mixture will seize and bubble up. Whisk until smooth and the caramel is fully incorporated. Return the saucepan to high heat and bring to a low simmer (160° to 180°).
Meanwhile, whisk the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch together in a separate bowl. Temper by adding a small amount of the hot caramel and whisking. Add to the saucepan and continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened to a molten lava texture and you can no longer taste starch.
Remove from the heat and strain through a chinois or a fine sieve into a container. Add butter and whisk to emulsify.
Pour 5 ½ ounces of custard into each ramekin; chill uncovered until firm enough to pour ganache on top. Chill and serve with barely sweetened whipped cream.
—Embedded illustrations by Peter James Field