Apart from the Italian zabaglione dessert sauce, I had never come across sabayon until a lunch I arranged in 1969 at the great
Choose a pan in which a stainless-steel (or other noncorrosive) bowl fits halfway down and fill the pan a third with water. Bring the water to a boil. Put the yolks, wine, and salt and cayenne in the bowl and whisk vigorously for 5 minutes. Put the bowl on top of the pan and whisk until the mixture thickens to the consistency of thick whipped cream. Do not let the mixture boil or you will have scrambled eggs. Have ready a bowl of ice and water (in case you overheat the sabayon) and cool the bowl in that, if necessary.
If you are going to serve the sauce cold, it must be whisked over the ice-water bath until cold. If left to cool by itself, it will lose its volume and separate.
For a sabayon to be served with desserts or over fresh fruit, follow the above recipe but substitute a sweet white wine and omit the cayenne.
© 1986 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.