Pizzeria Ortica’s budino di cioccolato

  (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Dear SOS: I recently dined at Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa and although the food was delicious, the budino di cioccolato (chocolate creme layered with caramel) was absolutely fabulous. With its creamy layers . . . it was the big star of the night. I would truly appreciate it if you could obtain the recipe for me. Thank you.

Aurora Eames

Diamond Bar

Dear Aurora: We loved the layered presentation of this chocolate and caramel custard. The creamy, sweet chocolate custard has a hint of orange, which pairs nicely with the rich, rum-scented caramel custard. Topped with freshly whipped cream and fresh summer berries, it makes for a striking dish.

Budino di cioccolato (Chocolate-caramel pudding)

Total time: 40 minutes, plus chilling time

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from Pizzeria Ortica.

Chocolate budino

3 egg yolks

3/4 pound milk chocolate, finely chopped

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon corn syrup

Finely grated zest of 1/4 orange

1. Whisk together the egg yolks in a small bowl. Place the finely chopped chocolate in a large glass or plastic bowl.

2. In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the milk, cream, corn syrup and orange zest. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. When it has come to a boil, remove from heat and whisk one-half cup of the milk mixture into the eggs. (This will warm, or "temper," the eggs.)

3. Stir the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan with a wooden spoon and heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, just until the mixture thickens to a custard and will coat the back of the spoon. Immediately remove from heat and strain the custard into the bowl containing the chocolate.

4. Quickly stir the custard with the chocolate until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Divide the custard between each of 4 individual serving bowls or glasses. Refrigerate the bowls, uncovered, until the custard is set (a pudding-like consistency), a couple of hours up to overnight.