12.23.2017

Il Bonet è Buono

Our neighborhood restaurant, Tavolino, serves several Italian desserts but there is only one we order, and that is the Bonet. This dessert is a great choice for your holiday table.

It is the only dessert on the menu from the chef’s native region - the Piedmont. But that isn't why we order it. We order it because it is fantastic.

Eleven years ago, when I first tasted it, I had never heard of it. I asked the chef’s wife (who ran the front of house) for the recipe. “It's a family secret,” she said.

A family secret? Really? I found recipes in several of my authentic Italian cookbooks and discovered it was not entirely secret. No doubt each family has its own nuance in preparation, as with so many classic recipes.

What I did find, in my research, are several spellings of the name, probably shaped by regional dialects: Bonet, Bônet, Bonèt, and even Bunet.

Regardless of the spelling, it does have only one meaning in the Piedmont dialect: hat.

When served at Tavolino, you can tell it was made in a brioche pan which, when turned out, can resemble a fancy hat. The more traditional form would be a mold that makes it look like a pillbox hat.

We might have enjoyed a little of our Il Palazzone Grappa with our bonet.
I made it in a rectangular loaf pan, which works very well for slicing and serving. It's oddly rich and light at the same time - something at which Italians excel. Figuriamoci!

~ David

Bonet

1/2 cup sugar
scant 1/4 cup water

4 eggs - about 8 ounces total
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups whole milk
5 1/2 ounces amaretti cookies
1/2 cup best quality unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons dark rum, brandy, or amaretto
1 teaspoon almond extract
lightly sweetened whipped cream
extra amaretti, crushed, for garnish


Put 1/2 cup sugar and the water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until sugar is melted; continue at a gentle boil until it turns golden. Do not overcook the caramel as it will be bitter. This will take about 10 minutes, depending on your heat.

Remove caramel from the heat immediately and pour into the an 8 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, distributing it evenly on the entire bottom and somewhat up the sides. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Crush the amaretti cookies coarsely in a large bowl using a pestle. Sift the cocoa powder over the crushed amaretti and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar together until the eggs start to foam. Scald the milk in a large sauce pan. While whisking the eggs, slowly pour the warm milk and mix well. Add the ground amaretti, cocoa, rum, and almond extract; whisk thoroughly.

Pour the mixture in the caramel coated mold. Don't be alarmed that the cookie crumbs all float to the top - that is what makes the crust. Bake in a bain-marie in the lower part of the preheated oven for an hour. (Make sure the water in your bain-marie is already very hot.) remove from the oven and the bain-marie and set on a rack. Let the Bonet cool completely and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight before serving.

To serve, dip mold in hot water, then run a knife around the sides. Turn out onto a platter and serve slices with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, and a sprinkling of amaretti crumbs.


Serves 8-10.

35 comments:

  1. This looks divine David, I don’t think I ever ate anything like this. Happy Holidays!

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    1. Thanks, Gerlinde - and welcome home! This is a lovely pudding - I think you will like it!

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  2. This sounds so good. I can’t wait to try it!

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    1. Yes - you and Ed will love it, Lois!

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    2. You will love it! Just made it again this week - so good!

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  3. Yummy. January for sure to taste it again.

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  4. Ah ah ...aucune recette de famille ne te résiste. Looks delicious.
    Joyeux Noel, David and Mark !

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    1. C'est vrai, ma chère! Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année à toi, aussi! Hard to believe we were together at this time last year! Bisous! D

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  5. This looks divinely delicious and decadent. Yum! Wishing you both a merry Xmas and a safe and happy new year. :)

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    1. It is both divine and decadent, and yet doesn’t leave you full, Ngeun! Mark and I wish you both a wonderful holiday season and send our warmest wishes for the New Year!

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  6. This dessert has it all- a 'brownie-like' base, caramel and a nice shape! It looks like there would be some gelatin in this dessert but I see that it is probably the eggs that give it it nice shape!

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    1. Yes, Fran, it does have it all! And no gelatin! Thanks for commenting - it reminds me that I must PM you about subscribing! Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018!

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  7. Wow, David... I might need you to make this one for me LOL :) It looks spectacular and like it requires a lot of your special finesse! <3 Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

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    1. Hi Marcelle, I would happily make you one - you just have to come visit! ;) It’s actually super easy and I think your kids would love it! Evan, too! Happy New Year!

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  8. David, this is such an intriguing dessert and I'm definitely going to try it. I love trying things I've never heard of it, let alone tasted. I can't wait!

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    1. And what is so nice about this, Valentina, is that it is gluten free for your son!

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  9. This does sound like a must try dessert, I'm glad you shared this not so secret recipe. Merry Christmas to you both.

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    1. Thanks, Karen - I just read a funny article about secret family recipes and you have to begin to realize that there are no family secrets! Happy New Year to you both!

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  10. I've had this and loved this. Now I wish I'd done the research you did so I could have a lovely post like this. Well done. Merry Christmas. GREG

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    1. Very sweet, Greg. When I first had this, there was no internet! What would we do without it? Happy New Year to you and Ken!

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  11. Though I'm not an almond lover, I do enjoy a dessert that isn't too heavy for the holidays! Nothing like a light touch of sweet after a big meal. A belated Merry Christmas!

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    1. Do you know there are no almonds in amaretti, Inger? All you would need to do is skip the almond extract!

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  12. What an unusual yet stunning dessert, it sounds amazing. Hope you had a great Christmas :)

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    1. Thanks, Emma! I a man just realizing that I subscribed to your posts and haven’t gotten anything yet... I need to try again!

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  13. Oh my this is truly elegant and almost too pretty to eat;) almost. Happy Holidays to you and Mark!

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    1. Cheri - anything that’s almost too pretty to eat is definitely worth eating! Happy New Year to you both!

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  14. You "might" have enjoyed some grappa with the bonet? Lol

    David, this dessert is so intriguing. It's like crème caramel, but better. I love all the additions like crushed amaretti and cocoa. And the booze, of course. I need to make this asap!

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    1. Yes, “might,” John. One must have one’s little secrets!

      You definitely need to make this. It is one of my absolute favorites!

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  15. This looks incredible! And I say that even though I'm not that into sweets.

    And, I must admit, I've never heard of this dish. Piedmontese food is still something of a mystery to me, although the few dishes I have had—bagna cauda, brasato, agnolotti del plin— I've really liked. (As you probably know, Italy being a very regional country, Piedmontese food was not easy to find in Rome, but there was one excellent place not too far from our place downtown.) New Year's resolution: Get to know this fascinating cuisine better.

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    1. Having never lived in Italy except through books like Ada Boni's and Cucchiaio d’Argento, I have been exploring all the regions... perhaps I choose where to travel the food I have learned? We have a restaurant just up the street that is run by a family from the Piedmont, and I love his cooking. He masked other regional dishes, as are expected from the American public, but I love the local ones best. You definitely should try this!

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  16. I've never heard of this, but sounds decadent! I'd have to use lady fingers as I'm not a fan of amaretti, but I'm sure it would still be fab! Looks like a show stopping dessert, David! Beautiful!

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    1. If you can find a cookie with a bit more texture that won't disintegrate as lady fingers do, that would work better. I am always amused at the number of Italian foods you don't like! :)

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    2. I honestly think I'm a super taster because everything I've read leads me to believe this is true. Still haven't tested myself, which I really need to do. I never cease to be tortured by family and friends who cannot believe how many things I don't like. I can't help it, it's just my taste buds telling me what they don't like!

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    3. I am definitely that way with anything coffee or tea flavored. Big ick from me, and it isn't a taste thing - I never even got that close! The smell of coffee or tea is enough to make me queasy - there is no way I am drinking it! :)

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