BONET ALLA PIEMONTESE: CHOCOLATE AND AMARETTI PUDDING
A DESSERT FOR THE COOLER MONTHS…
By Rosemarie Scavo
I love summer and the warmer months of the year for the excellent sorbets and gelatos that are here in abundance in Turin. However, the weather is getting distinctly cooler now and I’ve found myself craving something sweet with rich, chocolatety overtones. This weekend, I’m also expecting some friends from Australia and I’d like to prepare them something typically Piedmontese for their visit here. The wonderful chocolate and amaretti (almond biscuits similar in consistency to macaroons) pudding, better known here as bonet, immediately came to my mind.
Bonet is a Piedmontese word meaning ‘hat’. The origins of the name are not certain. Some people say it is because the dessert was traditionally served in a copper mould that resembled and was referred to as a bonèt ëd cusin-a (a ‘chef’s hat’). Others, however, believe it is due to the fact that it was served at the end of a meal, just as our hats would be the last thing to put on before heading home after a hearty meal at a friend’s home.
The earliest records of this dessert date back to the 13th century. However, there was no chocolate in the original version until cocoa became available in Europe after the discovery of the Americas. The original version, also called bonet alla monferrina, is rarely prepared these days and resembled a crème caramel with milk, eggs, amaretti and sugar.
The bonet recipe below contains cocoa, amaretti, rhum, espresso coffee, milk, eggs and sugar. It needs to be prepared in advance as it requires setting and cooling for at least three hours in the fridge like a crème caramel. In fact, some people say that the longer it sets in the fridge, the better it is. So, if you’re planning on making a big lunch this Sunday (a common scenario in a Piedmontese household!), why not make your Sunday morning a little bit easier and prepare this gem of a dessert the day before!
HOW TO MAKE BONET ALLA PIEMONTESE
- 750 mL milk
- 4 eggs
- 100g crushed amaretti
- 150g sugar
- 50g cocoa powder
- 1 espresso cup coffee
- 1 shot glass rhum
For the caramel sauce
- 100 g sugar
- a tablespoon of boiling waterFor the bain marie
- hot water
- a suitable mould for the pudding (I like to use a non-stick loaf tin)
- a whisk
- a saucepan to make the caramel sauce
- a baking tray large enough to fit the pudding mould for the bain marie
- a sieve for cocoa powder
- a blender to crush amaretti
Put sugar into saucepan and allow to melt on low heat. Add a tablespoon of boiling water when sugar has melted. Leave on low heat until caramel has turned a deep brown colour.
Coat pudding mould with caramel sauce. Ensure the sauce is spread all over the inside of the mould. Leave aside to cool.
In a bowl, beat whole eggs and sugar together.
Add sieved cocoa powder, crushed amaretto biscuits, rhum and espresso coffee to sugar and egg mixture. Once thoroughly mixed in, add milk and continue to whisk vigorously.
Pour mixture into caramel-coated mould.
Place mould in a baking tray filled 2/3 of way up with hot water. Cook in bain marie at 180 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
Remove baking tray from oven and allow to cool. When room temperature, remove bonet mould from baking tray and place in the fridge. Allow to set and cool for at least three hours.
Insert knife between edges of mould and bonet to make extracting easier. Put serving dish on top of mould and turn upside down. Lift mould. Place a few amaretti on top of bonet for decoration.