When I was a kid, Sunday lunches at my grandmother’s were a very big deal.
My father worked shifts, sometimes he had to work at weekends too, and we didn’t get to celebrate every Sunday together, which meant that the Sundays he was home were really special days.
And this of course meant a nice Sunday lunch with all the family. All my aunts and uncles would gather at my grandmother’s house and we would spend the entire day there, eating lunches that would last hours and spending the rest of the day outside, either in the vegetable garden or in the patio.
These times are long gone but I can still vividly remember the moment when I would arrive at my grandmother’s house, some sort of ritual that would take place every Sunday: I would run up the stairs to find my beloved nonna, hair in a bun and rolling pin in her hands, busy cutting the pasta to make ravioli.
She would kiss me on my cheeks and let me taste a bit of the filling. Then she would prepare some ravioli and roast them on top of the wood stove, so that I could eat them while waiting for lunch to be ready, a treat I will remember for the rest of my life.
Like all Italian grandmothers, my nonna was a superb cook. The food she prepared was incredible, really simple yet incredibly tasty. She would drive my mom and my aunts crazy because she didn’t follow a recipe when cooking and was never able to tell what ingredients were in a dish: multiple times she had an inspiration, picked something from the vegetable garden, added it to the dish and then completely forgot about it.
She died suddenly, in a dark December night, leaving us all desperate and with an incredible feeling of emptiness that would never be filled again. She brought with her all her recipes and only a handful, the ones that my mom and aunts learned to prepare while she was still alive, survived.
One of the best ones is the recipe for bunet, a traditional Piedmontese dessert made with chocolate and amaretti, the Italian almond biscuits. The fun thing about this recipe is that my aunt has prepared it for years but my father would always say: “it’s not like the one nonna Lucia used to make”.
She has been perfecting the recipe for years and now it seems that it is exactly like that one. I honestly don’t remember the taste of the bunet my grandma used to make – and I highly doubt my father does, too – but I can say that this is one of the best bunet I have ever tasted.
6 tablespoons of sugar
half a liter of milk
200 grams of amaretti biscuits
4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons of liquor
For the caramel sauce:
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
60 ml of water
To make the caramel, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and allow the caramel to darken and thicken. Remove from the heat and pour it into a pudding mold.
Whisk carefully the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl. Dip the amaretti biscuits in the milk, so that they become a bit softer. Dissolve the cocoa powder in milk and whisk egg whites until stiff. Then add milk and egg whites to the mixture of egg yolks and sugar. Add the amaretti biscuits and the liquor and mix carefully.
Pour the mixture into the mold, then place the mold in a deep tray filled with water to create a bain-marie. Place in the oven (preheated at 180° Celsius) and cook for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool, then put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours – actually, overnight would be perfect – before serving.