The Rodney Strong Wine and Chocolate Fantasy, held last weekend in the cool depths of the  Healdsburg winery’s barrel room, was the perfect way to slide into the Valentine’s Day spirit.

Romantically lit with candles and decorated with fresh flowers, the barrel room was lined with a seemingly endless supply of wine  (including  the new Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Malbec) along with artisanal chocolates from local producers such as Peters’ Chocolates of Sebastopol ( and Bert’s Desserts of Petaluma (   

Biscotti Bari of Petaluma ( shared this recipe for a delicious Chocolate Budino (Italian pudding) adapted from A16 restaurant in San Francisco.  I would use Valrhona for the bittersweet or dark chocolate, and Scharffen Berger for the milk chocolate.

Chocolate Budino

21 ounces bittersweet (or dark 72 percent) chocolate, broken into pieces

9 ounces milk chocolate, broken into pieces

18 egg yolks

1 cup white sugar

1 ½ cups whole milk

5 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

Extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Sea salt

1 package Biscotti Bari Almond Biscotti

Melt chocolates in a large stainless steel bowl over simmering water. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until combined. Warm the milk (in microwave or over the stove);  slowly   pour hot milk over the yolks, whisking to combine while pouring so you don’t cook the eggs. When chocolate is melted, remove from the stove and allow to cool a little. Add the yolk mixture into the melted chocolate slowly, whisking to combine completely. Stir in the whipping cream.

Pour the mixture into a large baking dish ( a 9 x 13 metal baking pan with high sides works well). Cover tightly with foil. Place into a larger pan (a roasting pan works well) and fill with water until halfway up the sides of the budino-filled pan. Bake for 45-60 minutes in a preheated oven at 300 degrees. Check to be sure that the edges are set . The middle will still be loose and runny.

Remove from the oven and whisk to homogenize. Pour into a large bowl. Set the bowl of budino over a larger bowl filled with ice to cool; continue to whisk occasionally. Chill budino at least overnight in the refrigerator. Spoon into dessert cups (or pastry shells or premade chocolate molded shells); top with a drizzling of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and an almond biscotti.