Every other week, I make a cake that uses 8 egg whites and 4 yolks, so I have 4 yolks to play with. I have been using them to make ice cream or, recently, this bread, but this week, I used them to make zabaione. The inspiration was a recipe by Julia Child (and Jacques Pepin, with David Nussbaum) that I found while searching for something to remember her on her birthday (August 15). I had not thought about dressing up strawberries with zabaione, so it was time to try. Child's recipe has the same amount of sugar but more Marsala than the recipe I had used before. With an eye towards the prospective consumers of the end product (a.k.a., my husband and myself), I decided to use the amount of Marsala I had in the past. So, for two egg yolks (tuorli), I used two tablespoons of sugar and four tablespoons of Marsala. For zabaione you want to use fresh, pastured eggs.
Making zabaione does not take much time, but it requires attention to avoid curdling the eggs. The recommended set up involves the use of a metal bowl with concave bottom, called polsonetto in Italian. I used an alternative set up with a glass bowl, because I had misplaced my small stainless-steel bowl. The use of an electric beater makes preparing zabaione a breeze. I start by beating the egg yolks with the sugar until light and bubbly, then add the Marsala while beating at low speed, then put the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. In Italian this cooking method is called a bagno maria. I stir the zabaione continuously while it warms up. As the temperature increases, the zabaione thickens to a nice, creamy consistency. I judge the consistency and decide when it is ready. The referenced recipe says: "When thick, foamy, and tripled in volume, remove from heat."
Zabaione can be eaten warm (I love it this way!), or you can wait (can you?) and let it cool. I did not try to add lemon juice as Julia Child's recipe suggests. I like the glazed variation, but didn't try it because I really love the unadulterated flavor of zabaione. The first time, I served it over strawberries (fragole), as in the inspiring recipe. I prepared the strawberries by sprinkling just a bit of sugar over them (no lemon juice), since they are sweet enough on their own. The second time, I served it over peaches (pesche) from our CSA box. Both desserts were simple and simply good.
This is my contribution to the fourth annual Julia Child Birthday Celebration, an event created and hosted by Lisa of Champaign Taste. Here you will find the roundup, published by Lisa on Julia's birthday.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the zabaione audio file [mp3].