Sounds odd, perhaps, but it would be a complement decidedly more suave than mere “Peaches-n-Cream”. Zabaglione is a smooth Italian confection that metamorphosizes any summer fruit into a hedonistic luxury. Zabaglione; say it with me: Za-ba-YEE-onee! (the “g” and “l” combine to make a “y” sound) is a sublime alternative to whipped cream. It is silken and soft, demure but unforgettable. It’s what you want, leave the Reddi-whip for the skulking teenagers!
Zabaglione began its life as a restorative drink - in English called caudle - made from egg yolks, sugar and alcohol cooked slowly until the yolks thickened. In The Penguin Companion to Food, Alan Davidson writes: "The most luxurious of all dishes of the caudle type is zabaglione, which is generally supposed to have been invented in the early 16th century at the Florentine court of the Medici."
It was in Sicily where zabaglione found its most popular flavouring, marsala. Not to be confused with the sickly-sweet varieties, good marsala vergine is dry and more akin to madeira. It complements the eggs and sugar with good acidity and rich, mellow flavors.
THEN THE FRENCH GOT A HOLD OF IT!
Zabaglione migrated to the north, and into France, where it was titled “Sabayon” and was explored as a savory sauce, (sans sucre!) with the individual additions of horseradish, lemon, white pepper, or tarragon, to be served with select cuts of beef, fish, fowl, or vegetables.
These days zabaglione is flavored with many different wines and spirits. For a very light, frothy version that's excellent as an accompaniment to poached or fresh fruit, try adding bubbly moscato or champagne. Late-picked or botrytis-type dessert wines will give a richer result, as will adding a small quantity of your favourite liqueur.
To make zabaglione even lighter, fold in a little whipped cream and serve it with any fruit dessert!
Time: 10 minutes, plus chilling
8 large egg yolks, room temperature
up of dry marsala
1 lb of your favorite stone fruit or berries, or a combination of such, fresh, macerated, or poached
Perhaps a lady finger, a biscotti, a piece of pound cake, simply whatever may appeal to you, maybe thin chocolate shavings and crushed Amaretti?
How to make it
Put the egg yolks, the marsala, and then the sugar into a large stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl over a large saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water. Using a hand-held electric mixer on low speed or a whisk, beat the egg-yolk mixture until it is hot and the mixture forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted, 5 to 8 minutes. Don't cook the zabaglione for too long, or it will curdle.
Put the fruit in stemmed glasses or in bowls. Top with the hot zabaglione and either serve the dessert immediately or refrigerate it for up to an hour. Garnish with your delight.
For a zabaglione that will last up to six hours in the refrigerator, add whipped cream. Beat half a cup of heavy cream just until it holds firm peaks. When the zabaglione is done, remove the bowl from the heat and continue beating until it's cool. Fold the cooled zabaglione into the whipped cream and refrigerate.
What you need to make zabaglione is, in effect, a double boiler that's wide enough to accommodate an electric mixer. This is easy to rig up with a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan.