Bônet astigiano (Chocolate, amaretti and savoiardi baked caramel custard from the town of Asti, in Piedmont)


Another splendid recipe from Piemonte: Bônet, which is pronounced

 If you do not trust my Piedmontese accent (and you might be right, actually) check this more authentic https://italianhomecookingdotcodotuk.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/bonet1.m4a voice.
It is a caramel-topped baked custard, generally made with crushed amaretti biscuits (one of the glories of Piedmontese baking), lots of eggs and milk, with or without cocoa/chocolate and/ with or without coffee. It is sumptuous and voluptuous. There are as many versions as there are Piedmontese cooks and this one comes from the book I referred to in the previous post: “La cucina del Piemonte collinare e vignarolo” by Giovanni Goria. It features both amaretti biscuits and savoiardi biscuits (sponge fingers), both rum and marsala, a little cocoa powder and some coffe too – it is intriguing to the palate an deeply satisfying.
I think Bônet is best eaten at room temperature or even slightly warm.

Bônet astigiano
10-12 portions,  see notes

1 lt full fat milk
100 g finely crushed savoiardi biscuits (or similar, the author says). If they are not finely crushed, you will end up with pellets in the cooked dessert  – not good
1 Italian espresso cup filled to the brim with strong coffee + 1 tablespoon instant coffee
2 tablespoon rhum and 2 tablespoon Marsala (or 4 tablespoon marsala)
120 g finely crushed small amaretti biscuits (the dry ones, not the soft ones)
50 g unsweetened cocoa powder
250 g  sugar (see notes)
5 eggs

A charlotte mould with slanted sides: 17 cm top diameter x 13 bottom diameter cm x  10 cm  height (see notes). A casserole dish or roasting pan that can contain the tin rather snugly.

Prepare a dark caramel with 150 g sugar and line the loaf tin with it.
Bring the milk to the boil and let it cool down a little.
Mix the amaretti and the savoiardi biscuits. Pour the milk over them, add the coffee, the coffee powder and the liqueur. Stir to combine.
Whisk the eggs, the sifted cocoa powder and 150 g of the sugar (and a pinch of salt, my addition) until thoroughly mixed without incorporating much air though.
Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly.  If you have time, let it rest for half and hour. Preheat the oven to 180° C.
Pour the custard into the caramel-lined loaf.
Place it in the casserole pan/roasting tin and transfer it in the oven.

Lower the temperature to 160 C.

Pour hot water around the tin, up to three quarters its height and bake for 30-45 minutes approximately (when it is firm to the touch, it is done).

Remove the pan from the oven,  take the tin out of the water bath and let it rest for 10 minutes. Unmould it and let it cool down. Bonet is divine eaten warm but it is also served as a cold pudding.

Goria does not give the dimensions of the tin. These quantities were enough for the above tin and I still had 200 ml left over which I cooked sous vide in a jam jar. I assume a little bigger tin would be better. The tin I used would serve 10 people.

According to Giovanni Goria, Bonet was traditionally baked in a round, mounted tin so that, once unmoulded, it would resemble a cap (a 18th century cap, says Goria). These days it is generally baked in a charlotte tin (like the one I used) or in a loaf tin. A kugelhopf tin or a savarin tin would be also suitable.

Goria is not clear about the sugar: he lists  200 g, which he uses to whisk the eggs, but then he says to caramelize the sugar and line the tin with the caramel: what sugar? He does not say. I decided to use 150 g sugar for the bonet and 100 g to make the caramel, cutting down the sugar that goes into the pudding and this was a wise choice.

Do not wait too long to unmould the dessert or the caramel, cooling down,  might become too thick and unmoulding the cream might become tricky. If, after unmoulding the custard, some caramel sticks to the bottom, heat the tin up on the burner until the caramel is runny again and pour it over the dessert

I made some extra caramel just in case the one inside the tin was not going to be enough and because I really like it, hence the copious quantity you can see in the picture.

Some crushed amaretti could be used to decorate the cream, just before serving

6 thoughts on “Bônet astigiano (Chocolate, amaretti and savoiardi baked caramel custard from the town of Asti, in Piedmont)

  1. ciao david
    cooking time: I think it really depends on the bain-marie: that’s why I put those 30-45 minutes.I was surprised to see that in most recipe bonet is cooked rather aggressively at 180-200 C
    I used unsweetened cocoa powder, so I guess the same as the one u used.
    Crushing the amaretti: in many videos, people simply crush them by hand and I think this is a good idea. I crushed them in the food processor, but not to a powder- still, next time, because there is going to be a next time soon (also I really would like to try the pressure cooker method), I will crush them by hand to have more texture.

    in the mean time I made an excellent apple charlotte, from a book on Milanese cooking: a simple shortbread tall shell filled with nothing but a mountain of apples – what’s not to like
    I am also experiment with Italian, actually Piedmontese, arrosti morti: pot roasts… sometimes I am surprised Paul and I are not super super over weight, considering all this food 🙂


    1. In my second making of this dish, I crush the amaretti coarsely and that worked out very well. I also added a little almond extract, which I liked. It was still very heavy on the chocolate, but I don’t think that was a bad thing. I think I’m just used to the one at my local restaurant, and am trying to replicate their version. Your Apple Charlotte sounds amazing! What could possibly be bad about that?


      1. u r becoming an expert on bunet… and this is the key: repetition, repetition, repetition. that’s why chefs can be so good: they make the same dish day in day out.


  2. I love that you made extra caramel for serving, I will be doing that next time, too. Our recipes are fairly similar, although mine has less milk and cooks longer! I wonder if I found mine too chocolate-intense because I used a dark Italian cocoa? Oh, and mine contained no espresso – and less alcohol. Just rum. I missed the almond flavor of the Bônet from our neighborhood reastaurant. I am going to try using amaretto instead of rum. I also crushed my amaretti too finely – not enough texture when they are pulverized, I think. Next up? I try yours before my tinkering!


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