In my most recent post I proclaimed the worthiness and virtue of egg yolks. The egg yolk is truly the gift to us from chickens. I run to get to the farmer’s market early enough to get the fresh eggs which run out fast. My husband usually goes one way and I go another as if we are staking out the territory, to make sure we get our eggs. It’s our first priority. This sounds silly because if I do miss the eggs, there are unlimited amounts available at a grocery store I can walk to. But, when there is a food I love so much, I just want to get the best I can get. And, eggs are one of my favorite foods, because of their versatility.
Today, they become Zabaglione, an Italian classic custard, whisked together with sugar and red wine.
I have made this custard before, here but it was called sabayon because it was a french recipe. I chose this alternative as part of July’s menu because it is served cold, had red wine instead of the typical Marsala and that seemed intriguing if not at least beautiful.
We will not have too many desserts in Cooking Italy, because Italians do not eat big desserts following a meal. They will eat a sweet roll in the morning and a sweet cake or cookies at 4:00 with a cappuccino, but usually a meal is finished with fruit and an espresso. They even consider cappuccino too heavy after a meal and drink those in the morning or maybe at an afternoon coffee bar, but never after a large meal.
Zabaglione is light enough, yet rich enough to satisfy all dessert lovers. This is made 4-6 hours in advance so that it can be properly chilled, making it a dinner party perfect. It is just as good as it looks, not too sweet, and pleasantly satisfying. An accompanying piece of dark chocolate or chocolate biscotti would take this dessert over the top.
All you need is a whisk and double boiler. Marcella suggests using two different size sauce pans and a trivet that is make particularly for this. I used a tin measuring cup to keep the top sauce pan from touching the water. The reason for this is to prevent the eggs from overcooking. Yolks are pure protein and when heated up turned tough and rubbery. The water must be just a simmer, nothing more and you never want your zabaglione to boil, not even simmer. Just keep it hot and whisk for at least 10 minutes. In the first picture at the top, you can see it looks a little firmer than the second picture. Zabaglione never really firms up like a typical custard.
- 4 egg yolks (I used 5 as my eggs were small)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup full-bodied red wine (I used a Chianti)
- In the sauce pan that will serve as the top of a double boiler, whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and frothy. You can use an electric beater or a whisk. If you do not have a double boiler, Marcella suggests using a trivet made just for this. Improvising, I used a tin measuring cup, which guarantees that the water will not touch the pan.
- Bring the water to a simmer, not a boil. Place the sauce pan with the egg yolks over the water, add the red wine and continue to whisk until thickened, approximately 10-15 minutes. Cool and put in dessert dishes and chill for 4-6 hours. Optional: Add berries.