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What comes to mind when you pair chocolate and custard? You get a delectable dessert that melts in your mouth. It’s so good that once you taste it, you’ll ask for more. This rich dessert, called Bonet, comes from the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Nothing says autumn better than this creamy treat.
What is Bonet?
It looks like creme caramel, yet it is so different. It is made of cocoa powder and crushed amaretti cookies, which make it pleasantly crunchy, smooth, and soft at the same time. My husband, who likes simple rustic flavors, adores this dessert. I learned to make bonet when I attended a pastry course, and it is now one of my favorites.
This recipe dates back to old times when grandmas cooked with wood ovens. At the end of the day, when no more wood was put into the oven, the remaining dying embers cooked the bonet slowly overnight. Then it was served cold the following day or at the end of a special meal.
It is a soft dessert or as we say in Italian, dolce al cucchiaio, because you need a dessert spoon to eat it.
All these ingredients are easily available in any supermarkets:
- Milk: whole and organic will guarantee a soft embracing taste; it’s better not to use skimmed milk or 2%.
- Powdered sugar: don’t use other kinds of sugar.
- Eggs: it’s best to use large.
- Cocoa powder: unsweetened cocoa powder suits this recipe best.
- Amaretti: these are light crunchy almonds cookies for which I have provided the recipe.
- Rum: this liquor enhances the taste of the bonet. However, once I forgot to add it, and the bonet was still delicious.
- Caramel is also available at the supermarket if you do not want to make it yourself. If you buy it, the preparation time will be shorter.
Italian Chocolate Custard - Piedmontese Bonet
For the dessert
- 2 cups of whole milk (½ liter)
- 1 cup of powdered sugar (125g)
- 4 large eggs (200g)
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp of cocoa powder (50g)
- 1 cup of amaretti cookies (100g)
- 1 tbsp of white rum
For the caramel
- ¾ cup of granulated sugar (150g)
- 3 tbsp of water (50g)
- 1 tbsp of honey (20g)
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine the sugar, water and honey and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (3-5 minutes). Cook but do not stir, until the mixture turns golden (1-2 minutes). Gently swirl the pot until it is golden (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat and swirl the pan until the sugar mixture is reddish-amber and fragrant (15-20 seconds). Swirl in 2 tablespoons of hot water and pour into one big mold, in single-serve silicone molds, or in ceramic ramekins;
- Heat the milk until it boils;
- In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, add the cocoa powder, and stir in the crumbled amaretti cookies;
- Add the rum and the warm milk, stir slowly;
- Then, pour the mixture into the molds;
- Pre-heat the oven to 300°F (150°C) and prepare the water bath by lining the bottom of a 9” by 13-inch baking pan with a tea towel fitting smoothly. Once the baking pan with molds are in the oven, fill the baking pan, using a tea kettle, with roughly 2 quarts of boiling water until the water reaches halfway up the baking pan;
- Bake them for about 40-45 minutes. If you use single-serve molds, reduce the cooking time to 25-30 minutes;
- Test if the bonet is evenly cooked by inserting a toothpick into the middle, which should come out clean. If it is not so, continue baking for a few more minutes or until the custard jiggles slightly;
- Set it aside to cool. Once cooled, run a paring knife around the edge of the mold; place a serving dish on top of the mold and turn it upside down with a rapid movement. Choose a serving dish with sides because the liquid caramel will run out. This is a typical rich sauce which greatly enhances the flavor of this treat.
- Garnish it with a little whipped cream and a generous handful of crumbled amaretti cookies.