Simply sublime when eaten fresh, Zabaglione is decadence made with only three ingredients!
Try a spoonful, or four. Warm Zabaglione magically melts in your mouth and becomes sheer happiness. Its taste far surpasses whipped cream. Light and airy, its texture lies somewhere between a whipped sauce and a frothy custard. Served atop berries, or simply placed in a cup garnished with crushed amoretti biscuits and a sprig of mint, it is unpretentious and classic. Many find themselves going the traditional route – dipping Italian cookies or biscotti into a cupful of Zabaglione, bite after bite, the happiness becomes addicting.
One of the first things we learned after switching to a low sodium diet is that ordering low sodium desserts can be a challenge when dining out. It’s a good thing for low-sodium, gluten or dairy free eaters* that most restaurants keep these three staple ingredients on hand: eggs, sugar, and wine! (Although, you might have to plead your low sodium case with the owner to order Zabaglione off-menu.)
Depending upon the origin of the restaurant, chef, owners, or where your taste buds happen to land in Western Europe – you might need to become multi-lingual to order up a cup of happiness; it’s been known to travel incognito using the following names: Zabaglione, Zabaione (Italy) or Sabayon (France).
Wine – yes, the wine you use will affect the end taste.
My cardinal wine cooking rule is to always cook with wine that is good enough to drink with a good meal; cooking with unpleasant tasting wine will definitely ruin the flavor of your zabaglione.
Marsala and moscato wine are popular choices. Personally, we like using an Italian vin santo wine. The tradeoff is that vin santo’s availability and cost relative to marsala wine may not present a compelling set of circumstances enough to buy a bottle simply to make zabaglione; the upside is that vin santo (much like marsala) is a sweet wine which keeps relatively well under refrigeration. So fear not, you don’t have to rush and feel you have to drink the whole bottle of vin santo in one evening. Sparkling wines can also add a flare to your Zabaglione: Moscato D’Asti, and prosecco tend to be the most frequently used.
Zabaglione Food Pairing Suggestions
- Topped over fruit – for example figs, strawberries tossed in glazed balsamic vinegar reduction sauce; stone fruit such as nectarines, peaches; quinces. (Pictured above: medley of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)
- Dip Italian cookies like biscotti, pizzelle (ferratelle)
- Make a deconstructed tiramisu
- Serve over French toast, cakes (i.e., ginger or lemon cake)
- Use as an ice cream flavor base
*Note: Yes, Zabaglione is one of our “special occasion” desserts because the recipe uses wine. If you’re curious and want to know more about cooking with alcohol, read our blog post here . We recognize that alcohol isn’t meant for everyone’s diet – so we’re sorry if alcohol is on your prohibited foods list and we’ve inadvertently taunted you. Also, this dairy-free Zabaglione recipe is also a good dessert consideration for gluten or lactose free eaters – our zabaglione recipe doesn’t use dairy; heavy cream can often help prolong the shelf life of zabaglione, but also affects the flavor and texture. You’ll want to be extra careful when choosing the wine (allergens).
4 egg yolks (**we use raw, pasteurized eggs for this recipe)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vin santo or marsala wine ** (see above for other options)
Use a double boiler / bain-marie; bring the water to a boil. (To construct a makeshift double boiler – fill a pot with 1 – 2 inches of water; bring to a boil. Select another rounded pot or [copper or heat tolerant glass] bowl that can sit comfortably on top of the pot, the rounded bowl becomes important because otherwise the ingredients will stick to the edges, overcook or burn. Do not select a bowl that sits low enough to touch the boiling water – you’ll scald the zabaglione this way. Essentially, you’re using steam from the bottom pot to heat the liquid in the top pot).
Combine and whisk all ingredients together (i.e., top part of the double boiler/a> or rounded copper or heat tolerant glass bowl). Once you combine all of the ingredients, it is essential that you continue to whisk (to ensure that the zabaglione stays uniform); sugar and egg yolks don’t play well when left alone.
Keep whisking; literally your arm might feel like it’s going to fall off if you’re not using an electric mixer. I actually stand on a kitchen stool, because I find that it makes whisking a little easier over a bain-marie (plus, I’m old school – I like to use a traditional whisk instead of our electric mixer for spontaneous desserts).
As the heat increases the overall temperature of the zabaglione, the texture will change. Bring it up to 145-150F and keep whisking. The heating process may seem like a long time because you’re busy whisking away, but it actually doesn’t take too long (usually less than 5 minutes). The completion test is the ribbon – the point when you can lift the whisk away from the zabaglione, and for a few scant seconds, it makes a ribbon-like pattern before becoming uniform again. Be sure to watch the temperature, because there’s a fine line where the zabaglione might get too hot, start to curdle and scorch. Quickly bring the temperature down, continue to whisk for about a minute, and remove from heat.