Although many old texts use the spelling zabaglione, the currently accepted form is without the g and the l. Zabaione, variously attributed to different regions of Italy, was usually served as a dessert in itself. Nowadays, however, it is often used as a component in a more elaborate dessert, though normally not served with fruit, as is the custom in the United States.
The traditional zabaione is made with sweet Marsala, a fortified Sicilian wine made in a manner similar to that in which sherry is made. By all means, try substituting other wines for the Marsala; a combination of strong coffee and brandy also makes a flavorful, though not traditional, zabaione.
Bring a quart of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Place the egg yolks in a heat-proof bowl and whisk by hand until liquid. Whisk in the sugar in a stream, then the Marsala. Regulate the heat under the pan so that the water simmers gently and place the bowl over the pan, with the bottom of the bowl above the surface of the water. Whisk vigorously; the zabaione will begin to absorb air fairly quickly. Continue whisking for a total of 4 minutes, until the zabaione is very aerated and thickened. Pour into stemmed glasses, dust with a dash of cinnamon, and serve immediately.
To serve the zabaione cool (an untraditional method): after whisking until thickened, continue whisking, either by hand, with a hand mixer set at medium speed, or in a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whip, until the zabaione is cool.
Ground cinnamon for finishing
© 1990 Nick Malgieri. All rights reserved.