serves: 8 servings
This typical Piemontese dessert is easy to prepare and delightfully tasty and smooth. It can be prepared several days in advance and is best when served with some plain whipped cream. You may be wondering about the French word Bonet. Since Piedmont borders France, the culinary culture and some of the words overlap.
3 cups sugar
½ cup water
2½ cups milk
10 large eggs
½ cup espresso, strong brewed
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup amaretti cookies, crushed
¼ cup amaretto liqueur
1 cup heavy cream
Prepare the caramel-lined mold. Before you begin the caramel, have near at hand a 12 x 4 x 3-inch ceramic or steel pate mold, or a 9 x 5 x 3-inch bread pan and a pair of heavy oven mitts. Make a caramel sauce with 1 cup of the sugar and the water in a medium-size, heavy saucepan. Immediately remove the caramel from the heat--it will continue to darken from the heat retained in the pan. Put on the oven mitts and, working quickly and carefully (the caramel is extremely hot) pour the caramel into the pan. Tilt the pan so the caramel covers the entire bottom and about halfway up the sides. You will see the caramel thicken and move much slower as it cools, make sure that the bottom at least is completely covered before it solidifies completely. Set the mold aside remembering that it will stay quite hot for several minutes.
Place a deep baking dish or roasting pan on the center rack of the oven and pour in enough warm water to fill it halfway. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk until bubbles form around the edges. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs and remaining 2 cups of sugar until smooth and pale yellow. Add the espresso, cocoa, crumbled cookies and Amaretto. Whisk until blended. Add the hot milk slowly, whisking constantly, until the sugar is dissolved.
In a separate chilled bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks when the beaters are removed. Add about 2 cups of the egg-milk mixture to the whipped cream and stir gently to blend. Fold the whipped cream mixture into the egg-milk mixture until evenly blended.
Pour the custard mixture into the caramel-lined mold and place the mold in the water bath. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the custard is removed clean, about 40 minutes for the bonet baked in the pate mold and about an hour for the bonet baked in the bread pan.
Remove the mold from the water bath and cool the custard to room temperature. Refrigerate the custard until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
To unmold, run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the custard. It should already be loose or loosen very easily. Place an oval flat platter at least a couple of inches longer than the mold face down over the bonet. Holding the mold and platter firmly together invert them with one quick motion. Wait a moment for the melted caramel to begin to seep onto the platter, then gently lift the mold; the bonet should unmold very easily. Serve the bonet cold, cut into 1-inch-thick slices, with additional whipped cream, if desired.