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Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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zabaglione (zabaione, or sabayon in French) is a rich, frothy dessert or thick beverage made with well-beaten egg yolks and sugar slowly thickened by cooking in a bain-marie. Depending on the region, sweet Marsala wine (Sicily, Calabria, and Campania), Moscato d’Asti (Piedmont), or Vin Santo (Tuscany) is added to the egg mixture. The secret of zabaglione lies in the freshness of the eggs and the incorporation of large amounts of air to make the foam light as a feather.

Like blancmange, zabaglione began as a dish that we would no longer classify as dessert: it was made with beaten eggs enriched with Malvasia wine and chicken broth. See blancmange. The first recipe for this dessert can be found in Bartolomeo Scappi’s Opera (1570), where zambaglione is savory and contains no sugar. However, a similar one for genestrata (broom-colored dessert) does contain sugar, which was a widely used ingredient in the Renaissance. In Lo scalco alla moderna (1694), Antonio Latini refers to zambaglione flavored with perfumed waters, cinnamon, and pistachio nuts. See latini, antonio. An early Italian recipe for home cooks calls for the eggs to be left whole in the wine until the shell disintegrates completely, providing an additional source of calcium.