By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
Bonet (pronounced bunèt) is a typical soft dessert of the Langhe region, a historic area of Piedmont, Northern Italy, famous for its excellent traditional cooking. This type of pudding dessert has ancient origins, and there are stories about it (sans chocolate) being served at royal banquets in the thirteenth century.
Bonet in Piedmontese means “hat”—a nightcap or bonnet—possibly indicating its shape. One of the Bonet's ingredients is the famous amaretto cookie made with sweet and bitter almonds (the soft part of the apricot kernel), sugar, and egg whites. Amaretto was invented by the Arabs and spread throughout the Mediterranean thanks to its long shelf life. The Bonet is a spoon dessert and requires, as the crème caramel, to be cooked in a bain-marie.
The secret to a perfect Bonet is that the water in the bain-marie must never boil, so as not to make the mixture harden too much or have bubbles inside. If you follow this little trick, the Bonet will be soft and smooth.
Are you ready to try this ancient recipe?
200 grams amaretti
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp. white sugar
70 grams sugar for the caramel
½ cup Amaretto di Saronno liqueur
3 cups (apprx. ¾ L ) whole milk
Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites in two different bowls.
Crumble the amaretti.
Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the egg yolks and continue to beat the eggs for 1 minute.
Add the amaretti powder, cocoa powder, sugar, and Amaretto di Saronno liqueur and mix.
Bring the milk to a boil in a pan. Add it to the bowl, mixing it with the other ingredients for at least 2 minutes.
Caramelize 6 tbsp (70 grams) of the sugar and 1 tablespoon of water in a heavy skillet until the caramel is deep brown.
Pour the caramel into a loaf pan.
Add the contents of the bowl to the loaf pan over the caramel.
Bake in a bain-marie double boiler for 40 minutes. When done, take it out of the oven and let cool. Once it is cool, put it in the fridge for at least an hour.
To serve the Bonet, turn it upside down on a plate and decorate it with amaretti.
Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup, Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), The Grimore, The Magic of the Moon, and Magic Herbs (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).