Monday, March 10, 2008

Sabayon aux fruits (Fruit Zabaglione)

Sabayon, or more commonly known as zabaglione or zabaione (without the “bag”) is a light, Italian, stirred custard that can be served as a dessert sauce or pudding. It’s actually a distant relative of eggnog or an egg flip and has been called the king of desserts.

On special occasions when I was growing up, we sometimes went to the best Italian restaurant in our city called Casa Italia. Their gnocchi was amazing, but their Zabaglione was why we were there. They would only make it for us if more than one person ordered it. It was a treat and seemed so special. Now, I realize how easy and cheap it is to make. I can even “make it to order” for a bedtime snack any time I want. This somehow takes away some of its charm.

A bit of history
It has its origins in Piedmont, Italy, which is in close proximity to southern France. According to this link, “in Italy, Zabaione is traditionally served to the newlywed man so he has energy to get through the wedding night!” As if they need any extra help in that department!

It is a very old dessert, dating back to the 1500s and named after Fra’ Pasquale de Baylon of the Third Order of Franciscans. He used to suggest this therapeutic recipe to his followers to solve “spouse frigidity”! In 1680, he was made a patron saint of cooks and his feast day is celebrated every May 17th. The local Torinese dialect abbreviated his name to San Bajon, and the recipe was known as L’Sanbajon. The spelling was later Italianized to Zabaione. Check out this link and this link for even more history.

What’s in it
In its simplest form, Zabaglione consists of three ingredients: egg yolks, sugar, and liquor (traditionally Marsala). Marsala is a sweet, fortified red wine from Sicily with a beautiful amber color. If you don’t want to use Marsala, you can use any of the following for a different taste: bourbon, champagne, frangelico, fruit juice, grappa, rum, sherry, vermouth, or even white wine. Zabaglione can be a base for gelato or semifreddo.

A special copper bowl
Italian chefs typically use a special copper zabaglione bowl set over a bain marie to whip up this dessert. Copper is an excellent heat conductor that transmits heat uniformly allowing the food to cook more evenly. Also, the shape of the bowl makes it easier to whisk the eggs which prevents any of the custard from overcooking. You too, can own a special copper pot that you can use just for zabaglione.

Watch a pro

Here is a link to a video showing how to make Zabaglione.

Recipe for Zabaglione

Serves 1

Here is the original L’Sanbajon formula, known as 1+2+2+1:

1 egg yolk
2 spoons of sugar
2 egg-shells of wine (traditionally Marsala)
1 egg-shell of water

In a heavy saucepan (or copper bowl), whisk the egg yolk and sugar together until thick and pale yellow. Set the saucepan over a bain marie, and add the Marsala wine gradually. Whisk over a barely simmering pot of water until the mixture is light and frothy. Whisk constantly to incorporate air and avoid scrambling the eggs. The mixture should double its original volume and thicken. It should not boil. The temperature should be about 180°F, which is not too hot for you to dip a finger into and have a taste. This can take 10-40 minutes depending on how many servings you’re making. It’s done when a ribbon of the mixture stays for about 5 seconds before it disappears.

Garnish with chocolate shavings or mint. Serve warm. If you want to serve it another day, chill in an ice bath or whisk until it is cooled (since it has eggs in it), and put in the refrigerator. When chilled, the mixture gets thicker. Once chilled, you can add some whipped cream or one stiffly beaten egg white to make it more like mousse.

Serving Variations: You can serve Zabaglione with any of the following: fresh figs, fruit, ladyfingers, poached pears, sponge cake, strawberries, or any fruit you like.

Tasting Notes
I’ve always liked custard, and this one with the rich taste of the Marsala wine is one of my favorites. It’s silky, light, frothy, winey, rich, and warm on a wintry night. Again, it’s another versatile recipe that you can have fun with. It’s definitely a keeper. And how fun to use egg shells instead of measuring spoons!

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Running total: $219.13 + $.78 = $219.91

Butter used so far: No change: 4 pounds, 19.5 tablespoons

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Remember to check out my March give-away. See Whisk-ing you a GIVE-AWAY.


skoraq cooks said...

I can eat any amount of sabayon with fruits. I especially like blueberries but raspberries or strawberries are fine as well. This is one of my very very favourites. Great photos :-D

Anonymous said...

This is a great Blog. I clicked on all the links and now even know how to pronounce it correctly! My mouth is watering -- your photos are elegant!

Brilynn said...

That looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

Can you explain how you decorated the Zabaglione? It looks like a flower but specifically, how did you do it? I love the look of the finished dessert.

Shari said...

Sabayon is delicious and so easy. I used kumquats and a pomegranate seed to decorate the top. I liked the bitter taste of the kumquats with the sweet custard. Thanks for reading!