Bonet, Italian Chocolate Soft Dessert Recipe

Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli
Italian Cuisine Expert and Food Blogger
Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli, the mastermind behind Nonna Box, has honed his culinary expertise for decades, inspired by family feasts in Emilia-Romagna. Mentored by his restaurateur nonna, he mastered Italian classics and furthered his skills with professional culinary studies in desserts and gelato making from Mec3. Today, he shares this rich legacy and authentic recipes through Nonna Box.
Expertise: Italian cuisine, Pasta, Pizza, Pastry, Dessert

Bonet (pronounced bunèt) is a typical dessert of the Langhe, a historic region of Piedmont that is located between the provinces of Cuneo and Asti. This dessert iis like a delicious chocolate pudding and crème caramel combined, and the recipe for making it has ancient origins.

bonet dessert on a plate

In fact, there are some historical accounts about the 13th century that say this dessert was served at the royal banquets of the time. Keep reading for our easy-to-follow recipe with just six ingredients that is sure to be a huge hit as the finishing touch to your next Sunday family meal.

What kitchen equipment is needed to make bonet?

In order to make bonet, you will need the following utensils and kitchen equipment.

  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 small bowl
  • 1 whisk
  • an electric hand mixer
  • a small pot to boil the milk
  • a heavy skillet for making caramel
  • a 10 x 6 x 4 loaf pan
  • an oven safe double-boiler or an oven safe pan that the loaf pan can fit inside comfortably.

Ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe

ingredients for bonet recipe: eggs, milk, amaretti cookies, cocoa, amaretto di saronno, sugar

This recipe calls for just six ingredients, so be sure to use high-quality products for the best possible outcome when making this typical Italian chocolate pudding dessert.

  • Eggs (6) – we love our farm-fresh eggs, so if you can get them we highly recommend using them for this recipe. If not, store bought medium sized eggs are fine.
  • Amaretti cookies (7 ounces)-  amaretti cookies are one of the most important ingredients in bonet, indeed they are the true protagonists. In Piedmont, there is a large presence of almond and hazelnut groves which heralded the birth of the famous amaretti cookies made with sweet and bitter almonds, probably invented by the Arabs and widespread throughout the Mediterranean thanks to their long shelf life. Amaretti are made from sweet and bitter almonds, sugar, and egg whites. The soft interior of the apricot kernel, called armelline, can also be added to give the cookie its typical bitter taste. Be sure to use the smaller, harder cookies as opposed to the softer, chewier and larger amaretti cookies which cannot be crushed and turned into a powder like the harder variety.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder (1 tablespoon) – if you use sweetened cocoa powder be sure to use less white sugar in the egg mixture.
  • White sugar (3 tablespoons +5 tablespoons for caramel) – any white sugar will do.
  • Amaretto di Saronno liqueur (½ cup) – this delicious amaretto liqueur will ensure a wonderful, rich flavor for your chocolate as the two flavors enhance each other. You can also substitute with dark rum if you can’t find amaretto at your local liquor store.
  • Whole milk (3 cups) – we recommend using the full fat milk, but it is also possible to use reduced fat milk for this recipe.

How to make bonet, step by step

  • Start by preheating the oven to 350° F.
  • Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites into two different bowls (the bowl for the egg whites should be large enough to add more ingredients later) photo 1.
  • Crumble the amaretti cookies until they reach a powdery consistency either by hand or with a blender (tip: you can put them in a plastic bag and crush them by hand until they reach a powder-like consistency). photo 2
  • With an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. photo 3
  • Add the egg yolks and beat the mixture for another minute. photo 4

four photos showing the step by step process for making bonet: separating the whites from the yolks, breaking the amaretti cookies, mounting the egg whites and adding the yolks.
  • Add the amaretti cookie powder, cocoa powder, sugar (3 tablespoons) and Amaretto di Saronno liqueur and continue to mix with the hand mixer. photo 5
  • In a small pot, bring the milk to a light boil. As soon as the first signs of boiling start, remove from heat and slowly add it to the bowl, mixing it with the other ingredients for at least 2 minutes. photo 6
  • In a heavy skillet, caramelize 5 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of water until the caramel is deep brown in color, you will need to mix continuously and ensure it doesn’t overheat or burn, as that ruins the taste.
  • Pour the caramel into a 10 x 6 x 4 loaf pan that has been buttered. photo 8

four pictures showing the process of making bonet, mixing the ingredients, adding the milk, the caramel and the main mixture
  • Add the contents of the bowl to the loaf pan on top of the caramel (do not mix with the caramel), then bake in a bain-marie (oven safe double boiler or placing the loaf pan inside an oven safe pan with 1-2 inches of water) for 40 minutes.
  • When done, take it out of the oven and let it cool.
  • When cooled, put it in the fridge for at least an hour. photo 8 – 10

two fotos showing how to cook the bonet dessert in bain maire
  • To serve the bonet, turn it upside down on a plate and decorate it with amaretti cookies.

bonet dessert on a serving plate

Try other dessert recipes:

Expert tips for making bonet

You can crush the amaretti cookies by pulsing them on low a few minutes in a food processor or you can place them in a sealed plastic bag and crush them with the palm of your hand until you obtain a fine powder.

Our trick for a perfect bain marie is to never let the water boil because that hardens the dessert and causes bubbles. If you follow this little trick, the bonet will be soft and smooth.

This recipe is always delicious, but making it one day ahead is a great way to ensure the dessert is fully chilled so the complexity of the flavors comes out. Be sure to remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes ahead to take the chill off before serving.

Variations of bonet

There are two versions of this dessert, a white one, called alla Monferrina, is older and less known, and does not contain cocoa but only milk, sugar, eggs, and amaretti. The other, called sabauda, came later when new ingredients from South America, such as cocoa and rum, arrived to Italy. This second version is the one that is most famous and is the recipe we are sharing with you today.

Even today in restaurants in Piedmont, bonet is a dessert that is always present on the menu, not only in its original form, but also with some delicious variations. It is possible to find it made with round Langhe hazelnuts, or with espresso or rum instead of amaretto liqueur, or using lemon zest or vanilla extract to flavor the milk before it is added to the mixture.

Feel free to experiment with your favorite ingredients and leave us a comment in the comment sections about what worked the best!

FAQs

How long does bonet keep and where should I store it?

Bonet should be stored in an air-tight container or covered completely with plastic wrap and can be stored this way in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.

What does the name bonet mean?

There are different schools of thought on the origin of the name of this dessert. Bonet in Piedmontese means “hat,” intended as a nightcap, and this has given rise to two different hypotheses. The first claims that bonét ëd cusin-a, or “chef’s hat,” was the name given to the hat-shaped mold in which the dessert is sometimes prepared. The second hypothesis, and perhaps the most likely, claims that since this dessert was served as the conclusion of a lavish meal, it represented the gesture of putting on a hat (bonet) as the last garment before leaving the house.

How was bonet originally made?

Bonet was typically prepared on Saturday afternoon, after the bread had been baked in the wood-burning oven. As soon as the bread came out, when the oven was still hot, the preparers would beat eggs together with sugar, then add cocoa powder, milk, crumbled amaretti, and rum.

In the mold, first it would be coated with sugar and put in the oven to let the sugar caramelize while rotating the mold so that it could adhere to the entire surface. Then the egg mixture would be poured into the sugary mold and it would be cooked in a bain-marie, or water bath inside the oven.

No additional wood was added to the oven, because the cooking had to be delicate and slow, and the bonet was judged ready when it thickened. The dessert was chilled and served the next day after the Sunday family meal.

Wine recommendations for pairing with bonet

The enveloping sweetness of bonet teams up just right with one of Italy’s most notable sparkling dessert wines: Moscato d’Asti. Fresh and very aromatic, its bouquet recalls yellow flowers and fruits like apple and pear. Keen to try an unexpected alternative? Try bonet with a dessert wine, such as a Tuscan Vin Santo, served at room temperature.

two pieces of bonet dessert on serving plates

bonet dessert on a plate

Bonet (Piedmontese Chocolate Custard)

A Northern Italian soft chocolate treat with the taste and texture of chocolate pudding combined with a touch of creme caramel all in one! Six simple ingredients so you can easily make this delicious and rich recipe at home in just over one hour.
4.88 from 8 votes
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Course: Dessert
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 410kcal

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 7 ounces amaretti cookies the hard kind
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 tablespoons white sugar including 5 tablespoons white sugar for the caramel
  • ½ cup Amaretto di Saronno liqueur
  • 3 cups whole milk

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites into two different bowls (the bowl for the egg whites should be large).
  • Crumble the amaretti cookies until they reach a powdery consistency (tip: you can put them in a plastic bag and crush them by hand until they reach a fine, powdery consistency).
  • Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff.
  • Add the egg yolks and continue to mix the mixture for one minute.
  • Add the amaretti cookie powder, cocoa powder, sugar (3 tablespoons) and Amaretto di Saronno liqueur or rum and continue to mix.
  • In a small pot, bring the milk to a light boil. Once it boils, remove from heat and add it to the bowl, mixing it in slowly with the other ingredients. Mix for at least 2 minutes.
  • Caramelize 5 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of water in a heavy skillet until the caramel is deep brown in color, you will need to mix continuously and ensure it doesn’t overheat or burn, as that ruins the taste.
  • Pour the caramel into the bottom of a 10 x 6 x 4 loaf pan that has been buttered.
  • Add the contents of the bowl to the loaf pan on top of the caramel (do not mix with the caramel), then bake in a bain-marie (oven safe double boiler or oven safe pan with 1-2 inches of water) for 40 minutes.
  • When done, take it out of the oven and let it cool.
  • When completely cooled, 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 whole amaretti cookies or crushed amaretti cookies sprinkled on top. For best results, chill overnight in the fridge and serve the next day.

Notes

Wine Recommendation
The enveloping sweetness of bonet teams up just right with one of Italy’s most notable sparkling dessert wines: Moscato d’Asti. Fresh and very aromatic, its bouquet recalls yellow flowers and fruits like apple and pear. Keen to try an unexpected alternative? Try bonet with a dessert wine, such as a Tuscan Vin Santo, served at room temperature.
Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 176mg | Sodium: 211mg | Potassium: 244mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 440IU | Calcium: 166mg | Iron: 1mg
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Origins and History

There are different schools of thought on the origin of the name of this dessert. Bonet in Piedmontese means “hat,” intended as a nightcap, and this has given rise to two hypotheses. The first claims that bonét ëd cusin-a, or “chef’s hat,” was the name given to the hat-shaped mold in which the dessert is prepared. The second hypothesis, and perhaps also the truest, claims that since this dessert was served as the conclusion of a lavish meal, it represented the gesture of putting on a hat (bonet) as the last garment before leaving the house.

There are two versions of this dessert. A white one, called alla Monferrina, is older and less known, and does not contain cocoa but only milk, sugar, eggs, and amaretti. The other, called sabauda, came later when new ingredients from South America, such as cocoa and rum, came to Italy and has become very famous.

The spread of this recipe in Piedmont is due to the large presence of almond and hazelnut groves in the region. These groves also heralded the birth of the famous amaretto cookie, a pastry made with sweet and bitter almonds, probably invented by the Arabs and widespread throughout the Mediterranean thanks to its long shelf life.

3 Responses to “Bonet, Italian Chocolate Soft Dessert Recipe”

  1. Supriya Kutty says:

    Today I made this dessert recipe for my kids and family they really loved it.It was so delicious everyone appreciated me and all the credit goes to you thank you so much for putting up this recipe.

  2. Carmen says:

    Wonderful explanation and beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing. Greeting

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