Bonet al Caffè

Coffee Custard from the Piedmont

Rate this recipe

Preparation info

  • Makes

    10 to 12

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Great Italian Desserts

By Nick Malgieri

Published 1990

  • About

One of the most typical and traditional desserts of the Piedmont, this version is from La Contea, Tonino and Claudia Verro’s lovely restaurant and inn. Rich and satisfying, the bonet is a perfect dessert after a light meal.

While it is baking, a crust forms on the bonet, so that there is a thin, firm layer on the bottom when the dessert is unmolded. Be careful not to bake the bonet too long or it will be coarse-textured instead of delicate and creamy.



  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons hot water


  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup ground espresso
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • cup sugar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons white rum


For the caramel, combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Mix well with a metal spoon (a wooden spoon might carry traces of grease, which could make the sugar crystallize as it melts) and place over low heat. At the first sign of smoke, stir occasionally until the caramel is deep golden in color. Add the water, allow to return to a boil, and cool the caramel for about 1 minute.

Pour the caramel into a -quart Pyrex loaf pan and tip the pan in all directions to coat it well. Pour out the excess caramel and allow the loaf pan to cool while preparing the bonet.

For the bonet, preheat the oven to 300 degrees and set a rack in the middle level. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and remove from the heat. Stir in the coffee, cover the pan, and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine strainer into a measuring cup, then line the strainer with a paper towel or coffee filter and strain again. Measure ½ cup of the coffee.

Combine the cream, milk, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to break them up and whisk in the rum and coffee. Whisk in the boiled cream mixture in a stream.

Pour the mixture into the caramelized loaf pan and set in a pan that contains 1 inch of warm water. Bake the bonet for about 1 hour, until it is firm to the touch and well colored on top. Be careful that the water in the pan does not simmer; add cold water to prevent it from becoming too hot, if necessary.

Cool the bonet at room temperature for half an hour, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

To unmold the bonet, insert the point of a paring knife about ½ inch deep between the bonet and the loaf pan and, scraping against the pan, loosen it at the top. Invert a platter onto the pan, then invert the pan and the platter. The pan should lift off easily. If it does not, shake gently from side to side so that some air gets in between the bonet and the pan; the pan should then lift off. If not serving immediately, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve the bonet in 1-inch slices.