Decoding Zabaione, Italy’s Creamy Sweet Dessert

Zabaione is a traditional Italian dessert made with egg yolks, sugar, and sweet wine. Also known as zabaglione or sabayon, zabaione has been enjoyed for centuries. Read on to learn more about what makes this historic dessert as delicious today as it was in the 15th century. 

How is Zabaione Made?

This creamy, custardy dessert is a lesson in mechanics. With few ingredients, zabaione must be whipped thoroughly to achieve the light and aerated texture that it is known for. To make zabaione egg yolks, sugar, and wine are whisk together over a water bath until emulsified, frothy, and thick. Because the eggs may curdle if left unattended over the heat, nearly 10 minutes of straight whisking is required to reach the ideal consistency for this eggy treat.

What Kind of Wine Should I use for Zabaione?

Any kind of sweet dessert wine will work well for zabaione. Marsala, Moscato, or Sauternes are all great choices. For a boozier approach, some recipes even call for cognac. Just be sure to keep in mind the sweetness level of the wine you choose; although not traditional, you may want to add a drop of lemon juice or a pinch of salt to balance out all that sweetness.

What’s the Best Way to Serve Zabaione?

Zabaione tastes great on just about anything. In the United States, zabaione and fresh fruit is a classic pairing. In Italy, zabaione is often served with amaretti or biscotti for a little crunch. Zabaione is adaptable with whatever you have on hand. While making zabaione is an arm workout, it is the perfect summer dessert when you don’t want to turn on the oven or if you need dessert fast; with only three ingredients your pantry may already be stocked with everything needed to make zabaione. 

How do I make Zabaione?

Hopefully, we have convinced you that zabaione is worth your time. To make zabaione at home combine 2 large egg yolks with 2 tbsp granulated sugar and 2 tbsp dessert wine in a double boiler set over simmering water. Whisk vigorously for about 8-10 minutes, or until frothy and thick. The zabaione should produce long, languid ribbons when fully whipped. Remove from heat, divide between bowls and serve with fresh fruit or biscotti. 

Feature Image: Flickr user stuart_spivack (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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