Authentic Italian Zabaglione Recipe is made just with 3 ingredients: egg yolks, granulated sugar and wine, usually Marsala. It’s not difficult to make Zabaglione recipe. You just need very fresh eggs and a bit of skill using the whisk!
Zabaglione is a sweet foamy cream also known as Zabaione or Zabajone and it’s one of the most classic ancient Italian dessert.
It’s served in small cups with cookies like Savoiardi or with fresh seasonal fruit. It could be a nutritious snack or a dessert served on cold winter evenings.
During the Christmas holidays, in Italy usually they serve Zabaglione cream poured on slices of Panettone or Pandoro, for a terrific and delicious dessert.
You can enjoy this Italian custard both cold or hot, according to your taste and the season.
Zabaglione, together with Pastry Cream, is nowadays an important ingredient of the Italian pastry tradition, used to prepare refined desserts.
Its origins are homey and come from the custom of Italian mothers and grandmothers to beat the egg yolks with sugar in a cup until they get a frothy cream. This Italian egg yolk and sugar preparation was used as a natural tonic for inappetent or convalescent children/husbands, due to its high nourishing power.
As often happens, the simplest traditions give life to amazing recipes!
How to Make Zabaglione Recipe
- Prep Time: 15 Min
- Cook Time: 10 Min
NOTE: Zabaglione recipe comes from years of practice and experience of mothers and grandmothers of the past. You can think of Zabaglione as a “family” recipe: everyone has its own version.
The ingredients (sugar, egg yolks and Marsala) were approximately in the same quantity. Italian grandmothers weighed the egg yolk and added the equivalent quantity of sugar and Marsala, but in a very approximate way. We’d say “ad occhio“.
They sometimes even used half an eggshell as a unit of measurement. So, for example, for 4 people: 4 egg yolks, 4 sugar half eggshells and 4 Marsala half eggshells! Zabaione recipe is an exception to the main rule of the pastry tradition, that wants the precise respect of the doses!
That said, let’s see what are the ideal quantities for this recipe:
- 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar (75 g/ 2,64 ounces)
- egg yolks of about 75 g / 2,64 ounces (that are about 4 egg yolks, depending on the size of the eggs)
- 5 tablespoons of Marsala wine (about 75 ml / 2,5 fluid ounces)
Kitchen Tools and Equipment for Making Zabaglione
For making homemade Zabaglione recipe, it’s necessary to have some simple but really useful kitchen tools. Let’s see which ones.
First of all, the most important thing is to have a good kitchen whisk.
Many, contrary to tradition, use an electric hand mixer. It’s certainly more easy but you have to be very careful not to beat the eggs too quickly or beyond the right point. With a hand whisk, you need a little extra time but you find to have more control when you reached the desired thickness.
You need also a Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl or a Copper Mixing Bowl. The material these bowls are made of, steel and copper, conduct little heat. They heat the eggs without cooking them during the bain-marie.
It may be useful to use a kitchen thermometer to check that the temperature does not exceed 85 °C /185 F.
If you want to taste the freshly made hot Zabaglione cream, it’s characteristic and in accord with Italian tradition to serve it in copper little bowls. They are nice, perfect for this type of dessert, a really original gift idea too!
Step 1) – Start separating the egg yolks from the whites. Place the yolks in a stainless steel or copper bowl and add the sugar. Meantime, put a saucepan with a little water on low heat.
Step 2) – Mix eggs and sugar with a hand whisk or an electric whisk at low speed, being very careful. Keep whisking the egg yolks with the sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the yolks cream begins to thicken.
Step 3) – At this step, place the bowl on the saucepan with the hot water and continue to beat the egg cream with the whisk.
- a) The water must be very hot but it must NOT boil.
- b) The bowl with the egg cream must NOT touch the hot water: it must remain raised.
Step 4) – After about 3-4 minutes, add slowly the Marsala wine. Mix everything together, keeping whisking until it reaches a puffy full-bodied consistency. It will take about 10 minutes in total.
Zabaglione is ready when the whisk leaves a “footprint” in the mixture and when, raising the whisk, you drop a fairly solid trail, as a ribbon, on the surface of the mixture. If you have a Kitchen thermometer, you can check that the temperature is around 85°C (185 F). The cream must NOT cook or boil, but just be warm.
You can serve your Zabaglione immediately, hot and creamy. Pour it into small glass bowls and enjoy it with Savoiardi or other cookies.
Cold Zabaglione Recipe
If, on the other hand, you want to enjoy a cold Zabaglione cream, here what you have to do:
Step 5) – Place the bowl with the Zabaglione on top of a bowl with ice cubes. Mix gently for a couple of minutes. In this way it cools down quickly remaining a creamy puffy dessert.
Zabaglione is excellent if you eat it immediately.
However, you can keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days. Before using it, you need to mix Zabaglione for another minute with a whisk. This is because the Marsala, after a few hours, settles on the bottom and it separates from the egg.
What is Marsala?
Marsala is one of the most famous fortified wines in the world and one of the most important symbols of Sicily.
The history of Marsala begins at the end of the 18th century, when John Woodhouse, an English merchant, arrives in the Sicilian city of Marsala.
He realizes the potential of this area: the climate is in fact very similar to that of Porto and Madeira, and decides to produce a wine with the same characteristics.
There are different types of Marsala, but the first great distinction is based on the grapes used and the different color given to the wine. We talk about “Marsala Ambra” and “Marsala Oro”.
Marsala then differs according to the sugar level in “Sweet”, “Semi-dry” and “Dry”.
Dry Marsala is generally used to prepare savory appetizers. In addition, this type of Marsala is used to make caramelized beef fillet and goes well with mushrooms, turkey and veal.
Sweet Marsala is generally used to prepare very sweet sauces and desserts such as Zabaglione recipe and it goes well even with chicken and pork dishes.
Is Marsala the Only Wine for Zabaione? Marsala Substitute
The more classic version of Zabaglione recipe wants Marsala but the choice of the alcoholic ingredient is unlimited.
You can use a fortified wine or even a liquor, such as Limoncello for example. Obviously in this case the alcohol content increases.
For a lighter version you can opt for a Moscato wine, a Passito or a Prosecco. You can also use a Port white wine, to not alter the color of the Zabaglione.
Salty Zabaglione Recipe
Using the same methods already described, whip the egg yolks with dry white wine. Add a pinch of salt and peper. Place the container on a pot with water and turn the flame to low. Continue to beat with the whisk until you get the right consistency and then add some grated Parmigiano and eat immediately.
Salted Zabaglione recipe is excellent with asparagus, white fish and, as we use in Italy for New Year’s Eve, with Cotechino.
To make a variant of Zabaglione recipe with no-alcohol, you can substitute Marsala wine with milk, flavored with a vanilla stick or a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Zabaglione: a Natural Tonic
Zabaglione is known to be a fortifying, invigorating, energizing and nourishing food. At one time, it was recommended to children and to anyone who felt the need to quickly recover their strength.
In fact, Zabaione is very caloric, certainly not suitable for low-calorie diets! The nutritional value of Zabaglione is the high iron content.
Zabaglione and Eggnogg are Not the Same
Many think that Zabaglione and Eggnogg are synonymous but this is not the case.
Zabaglione is a spoon cream, a custard-like dessert; Eggnogg is a beverage.
To make a perfect Italian Zabaglione, as we have shown you, you need to whisk the fresh egg yolks and sugar well so that they are soft and frothy. Then, continuing to beat in a bain-marie, add the Marsala. You can enjoy it hot or cold, with cookies or with Panettone.
Eggnogg is a typical drink of the Christmas season in Anglo-Saxon countries, invented in the eighteenth century by Carl Joannessons, a London bartender.
To warm up his customers during the winter months, he decided to combine egg yolks, sugar, cream and milk, flavoring everything with cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. Thus creating an original and perfect cocktail to fight the cold: the Eggnogg.
Zabaglione Recipe: Origins and Curiosities
As we said, the Zabaglione recipe is very old and is lost in the mists of time. Housewives have always had the habit of making eggs beaten with sugar to give strength and energy to the children and men of the house. An ancient and widespread tradition everywhere in Italy.
There are several legends about the origin of the name “Zabaione” or “Zabaglione”.
One of these tells that the mercenary captain Giovanni Baglioni arrived in Reggio Emilia in 1471 with few provisions available. Baglioni sent his men to stock up on food. And they returned with eggs, sugar and wine, ingredients that mixed together created the first Zabaione in history.
The name comes from this episode: the troops called the captain “Zvàn Bajòun”, a nickname which was then maimed into Zambajoun, Zabajione and, finally, Zabaglione.
Another legend believes that it was invented in Turin in the sixteenth century, in honor of the Franciscan San Pasquale Baylón, patron of chefs and confectioners. First presented with the name of “San Baylón cream” and then, simply, Sambayon (still today in Piedmontese dialect the cream is called Sanbajon).
The first written recipe of Zabaglione is that of Bartolomeo Stefani from 1662, a cook at the Gonzaga court. He, in his recipe book, provides for the first time the doses for the Zabaglione and some advice for its preparation.
An Italian Dessert: Zabaglione (Web Story)