Cold Zabaglione with Red Wine with Raspberries

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A simple Italian dessert, cold zabaglione with red wine is an elegant use of left over egg yolks.

The egg yolk is truly the gift to us from chickens. I’m happy now that I get eggs from the free-range very happy chickens at my friend’s farm. The egg yolk is also responsible for a few Italian desserts like this zabaglione, and this lemon budino.

Cold Zabaglione with Red Wine

Zabaglione, is an Italian classic custard, whisked together with sugar and red wine. You can also do this dessert sugar free using Swerve and you can replace the red wine with Marsala or cognac. You can serve it warm immediately with fruit and perhaps a simple cake, or cold as I’m doing here.

I have made this custard before, here  called sabayon, because it was a french recipe.  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.

Cold Zabaglione with Red Wine from Spinach Tiger

The Process for Cold Zabaglione with Red Wine

This may seem daunting, because egg yolks are not that easy to warm up and retain a custardy appearance. Keep in mind, zabaglione is loose, and not a dense or fully formed custard. It’s closer to a sauce.

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.  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.

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Cold Zabaglione with Red Wine with Raspberries

Italian custard dessert, cold zabaglione made with egg yolks, wine and sugar adapted from Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classical Italian Cooking.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Author: Angela Roberts


  • 4 egg yolks I used 5 as my eggs were small
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup full-bodied red wine I used a Chianti
  • raspberries or berries of choice


  • 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 bare simmer, not a boil. Place the sauce pan with the egg yolks over the water. Add the ed 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.

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