Zabaglione is a classic Italian custard served either as a dessert or as a garnish of several sweets and cakes. This egg and sweet wine cream is particularly popular during Christmas and Easter time and paired with traditional cookies like Savoiardi and Amaretti, and also with berries and chocolate. Beyond its deliciousness, Zabaione is also the protagonist of an exciting history: here the traditional recipe and the history!
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ZABAGLIONE: ORIGIN AND LEGENDS
The origin of Zabaglione is uncertain: three Italian regions – Tuscany, Piedmont, and Emilia-Romagna – are competing for centuries the creation of this delicious custard.
Even if the original name is Zabaglione, currently in Italy it is commonly named as Zabaione.
In Tuscany, it is said that Zabaglione has been well known since the XVI Century, and very popular to the court of Caterina de’ Medici.
In Piedmont, the legend tells that Zabaglione has been invented by the Franciscan monks to help the men’s vigor! It is said that the original name has been Sambayon, in honor of Saint Pasquale Baylon. A thicker variation of Zabaglione is one of the four classic creams used to fill the Cannoncini alla Crema.
Probably, the most interesting legend about Zabaglione comes from Emilia-Romagna. Here we have an exact date, 1471, and a place, the city of Reggio Emilia. The tale starts with the mercenary captain Giovanni Baglioni and is army camped out around the walls of the city. As usual, Giovanni Baglioni ordered his men to plunder the farmers, but that day the booty was particularly weak: just some eggs, vine, and sugar. The captain ordered to mix and warm all these ingredients, creating a delicious custard that was named with his name in local dialect: ‘Zuan Bajòun, then shortened in Zabaglione.
WINES AND DECORATIONS
The wine is a critical ingredient. It is commonly a dessert wine like Marsala, Vin Santo or Passito. Among the foreigner wines, Sherry and Porto pair particularly well.
The Zabaglione traditionally pairs with some typical cookies and fruits.
COOKIES – We have three types of cookies commonly served along with Zabaglione: Lingue di Gatto, Amaretti, and Savoiardi.
FRUITS – the most classic pairing is indeed with berries!
CHOCOLATE – Chocolate chips could be a great surprise into every spoon of Zabaglione
TIPS & SUGGESTIONS
BAIN-MARIE – this technique is ideal preparing the cream to perfection (click here for more information).
PERFECT GRADE – The perfect grade of cooking is 181°F (83°C), so an instant-read thermometer could be very useful!
CHOOSING THE EGGS – To avoid the possibility of any foodborne illness, use only fresh and trusted eggs, or pasteurized.
SERVING – Serve the custard warm, or cold along with Italian cookie, fruit, and chocolate. Alternatively use the custard to garnish cakes, Pandoro, or Panettone!
- 4 eggs (best if pasteurized)
- 8 tbsp (100g) sugar
- 3/4 cup (160 ml) Marsala wine
- for decoration: fruit, chocolate, and cookies
- First, crack the eggs and separate the yolk from the whites. Then, pour the yolks into a metal bowl along with the sugar and beat a little until consistent.
- At this point, place a pot half filled with water over the flame. When the water starts to simmer, place the bowl over the pot and cook the zabaglione using the Bain Marie technique (click here for more information) adding the wine, and stirring continuously with a whisk.
- Whisk until the custard reaches 181°F (83°C), then place the bowl over ice keep stirring in order to stop the cooking,
- Serve Zabaglione warm or at room temperature paired with your favorite cookie, fruit, or sweets.
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