• 4 large egg yolks (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (1 3/4 ounces; 50g)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Vin Santo or other sweet, fortified wine such as Marsala (see notes)
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste (optional)

Zabaglione ( ie Sabayon ) is an absolutely dreamy dessert sauce, fitting for anything from fresh fruit  to bread pudding, from cake or panettone, to some biscotti or amaretti.

With three basic ingredients and a bit of practice at whisking over a water bath, you are rewarded with a warm, boozy, egg-y cloud of deliciousness, the down comforter of the dolci universe.

The list of ingredients for zabaglione may be short, but the devil is in the details. Start off with selecting the right bowl.

Copper conducts the heat from the boiling water bath efficiently and evenly, allowing you to control the cooking process. If you don’t have a copper bowl, glass is the next best choice; its insular properties prevent the zabaglione from overcooking in spots. The goal is to create heavenly, luxurious foam.

Wisking Eggs<br />

Zabaglione Cooking Technique: Simmer and Whisk

Zabaglionen mixing ingredients off-heat<br />

The first step of making zabaglione is bringing your pot of water to a simmer and combining the ingredients off-heat. Remember the golden rule: Never dump sugar on egg yolks and hesitate or walk away, even for a few seconds. The sugar will “burn” the yolks, creating hard, unpleasant clumps that won’t dissolve. Whisk in the wine or combination of wine and spirits, a wee pinch of salt, and if necessary, the lemon juice. Whisk the ingredients together off heat to create a foamy texture that will give you a good head start.

We often do this with our Teodoro Port, with the addition of a tiny amount of lemon juice !

The goal is to incorporate air into the zabaglione as you cook those yolks. This isn’t the time to change the TV channel or answer the phone; you’re pretty much stuck there until it is done.

 There are signs to look for that will signal it is almost done: The whisk will leave tracks in the zabaglione as it moves through it, and it will mound easily. At this point, I start to perform my 8-second test: Lift the whisk up and let some of the zabaglione fall back onto itself. Count how long it takes before the fallen shape flattens, and when that point reaches 8 seconds, you’re done. Take the bowl off the heat and place it on a folded kitchen towel on the counter.

Wait, you’re not done. Keep whisking. That’s right, keep whisking. It is necessary bring the temperature down a bit, which will help the zabaglione thicken further.  Serve warm or at room temperature, to get the full impact of boozed-up egg.

Happy Holidays!