What is zabaglione?
Perhaps you’ve heard of the French sabayon, a custard-like dessert made with egg yolks, sugar and wine. Zabaglione is similar in nature, although Italian by creation, and uses marsala as its base. It is also possible to make zabaglione without alcohol: just use non-alcoholic wine or sparkling cider with a squeeze of lemon to balance out the sweetness of the dessert.
Though history differs on the point of its origin, records show that zabaglione dates as far back as the second half of the 15th century when a recipe first appeared in a manuscript collection of the Library Cuoco Napoletano. Even the powerful Medici family - deeply connected to Florence in the heart of Tuscany over several centuries - is recorded to have been fond of the dessert. It is claimed to have been named, in 1471, after the condottiere Giovanni Baglioni (or ‘Zuan Bajòun in the local dialect) whose men, while foraging for their fellow troops, could only come up with honey, white wine, eggs and herbs.
What’s the difference between zabaglione and sabayon?
These two desserts are practically the same, albeit with one main difference. Sabayon is made with any alcohol such as wine or sparkling wine, as well as liqueurs and even some spirits. Zabaglione, by contrast, is the Italian version of sabayon that is, as tradition dictates, always made with marsala. Should you wish to substitute the marsala for another alcohol you have on hand, Prosecco and sparkling wines will work well with a side of light, fresh fruit, while a dry white wine like sauvignon blanc will pair well with juicer fruits such as melon.
Our Simple Zabaglione Recipe
Total time: 10 minutes
Calories per serving: 140 kcal
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 4 tbsp marsala or dessert wine
- 1 pinch salt
- Put a large, heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Bring the water to a boil.
- Combine the sugar and eggs yolks in the bowl and whisk vigorously until creamy. While whisking, gradually incorporate the marsala (or other alcohol) and salt. Ensure to scrape the base of the bowl as you are whisking, until the mixture is thick enough to leave a trail on its surface when dropped from above.
- Remove the bowl from over the pan and place it on a cool surface. Keep whisking for 2 more minutes and then divvy up between 4 different bowls.
- Buon appetito!
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