Bünet

For this specialty from her native Piedmont, not published in any of the sources I have seen, I am indebted to my friend Graziella Torti. Bünet is smooth, dark, and delicious, somewhat like a pudding in consistency, but so much silkier and buoyant than puddings ever seem to be. It is best served chilled.

Ingredients

For the caramel

  • cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • A 10-inch ring mold
  1. 1 dozen pairs of amaretti (Italian macaroons)
  2. 2 cups milk
  3. 7 tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 4 extra large eggs
  5. 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  6. 2 tablespoons rum
  7. 1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
  8. Whipped cream topping made with 1 cup heavy cream and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)

Method

  1. Make the caramel: Put the sugar and water in a small, preferably thin-bottomed saucepan. Turn on the heat to high and melt the sugar until it is a dark brown color. Do not stir, but tilt and rotate the pan to keep the sugar from sticking while it is melting.
  2. The instant the sugar has become caramelized to a dark brown, pour it into the ring mold, turning and tilting the mold to coat it evenly with sugar.
  3. Turn on the oven to 375°.
  4. Crumble the amaretti and put them in a mixing bowl.
  5. Warm up the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. When it comes to a simmer, pour it in the bowl over the amaretti together with the 7 tablespoons of sugar. Let the amaretti steep in the hot milk until thoroughly soaked; then, using a wooden spoon, mix to a creamy consistency, making sure that the sugar has completely dissolved.
  6. In another bowl beat the eggs with a whisk until they are soft and foamy.
  7. Add the cocoa powder to the eggs, stir well, then add it to the amaretti and milk mixture, mixing it in thoroughly.
  8. Add the rum and the Amaretto liqueur, mix well, then pour the entire contents of the bowl into the caramel-coated mold.
  9. Choose a baking pan large enough to accommodate the mold comfortably, put some water in the pan, and set the mold in the water. Place over a burner and, over medium heat, bring the water to a gentle simmer. Transfer the pan together with the mold to the middle level of the preheated oven.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes, but test for doneness after 35 minutes. If a knife inserted into the bünet comes out dry, the dessert is done and should be removed from the oven. If the blade comes out moist, it will need the additional 5 minutes.
  11. When the bünet is done, remove it from the oven and remove the mold from the pan. When cool, place the mold in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours—it is best to leave it in overnight.
  12. To unmold, place the mold again in a pan with some water and bring the water to a boil over a burner. Remove from the heat, loosen the dessert from the mold by sliding a knife blade all around the sides, then turn over onto a serving platter. When ready to serve, top with the whipped cream, if desired.

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