Warm zabaglione

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The origin of zabaglione is uncertain. It might have originated in Turin in the ninth century, but its origin is shrouded in mystery. Classical zabaione uses raw egg yolks, but today many may prefer to cook the custard in a bain-marie. Beaten egg white is sometimes replaced by whipped cream. Occasionally, the wine is omitted when the dish is served to children or non-drinkers. It is then in effect a very different dessert. It may then be sometimes flavoured with a small amount of espresso. Light as air and highly alcoholic, this warm custard is a much-loved Italian pudding. it is traditionally made with Marsala, but madeira or sweet sherry can be used instead.


4 egg yolks

50 g caster sugar

60 ml / 4 tbsp Marsala, Madeira or sweet sherry

amaretti or other biscuit, to serve


Place the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl, and whisk with an electric beater until the mixture is pale and has thickened considerably.

Gradually ass the Marsala, Madeira or sweet sherry to the egg mixture. 1 tbsp at the time, whisking well after each addition.

Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and continue to whisk for 5 – 7 minutes, until the mixture becomes thick; when the beaters are lifted they should leave the thick trail on the surface of the mixture. Do not be tempted to underbeat the mixture, as the zabaglione will be too runny and will be likely to separate. Pour into four warmed, stemmed glasses and serve immediately with biscuits of your choice for dipping.

Zabaglione is also delicious served as a sauce with cooked fruit. Try serving it with poached pears, grilled (broiled) peaches or baked bananas to create a really special dessert.

To make a chocolate version of this dessert, whisk in 30 ml unsweetened cocoa powder with the wine or sherry and serve dusted with cocoa powder and icing (confectioners’) sugar.