Italian Zabaione! (Zabaglione)


This recipe as was served to me many years ago, probably would these days, go against and contravene every modern health and safety rule, parenting guideline, and probably legal law across the planet. However, when I was a kid, my mother used to regularly make Zabaione for her family.

Yes, at the tender age of 5 or 6 years old, I was consuming, in fact actively encouraged to consume, both alcohol and raw eggs  (albeit in very small quantities).

How times have changed over the past 20 years. However it was far from a sadisitic ritual, or poor parenting, it was actually a sort of sunday morning treat, and ofen a cruel trick to entice us unwilling kids to Church early on a sunday morning. The promise of recieving this delcious treat, when we returned home, was a very alluring temptation, dare I say amlost sinful.

To those who don’t know what Zabaione is, it is basically a comination of egg yolks, sugar and a flavourful sweet Italian wine called Marsala.  No this is not a typo, there isn’t a list of ingredients missing, or a paragraph omitted from the blog, that is all there is to Zabaione, three ingredients.  Also, yes it is supposed to be Zabaione,  Zabaglione as you will more commonly see is the new spelling, of the same thing. 

Zabaione can also form the base for Ice Creams, and other delights which I will list here at a later date. One of my favourites, is a bread and butter pudding, using Zabaione, Grappa soaked currants, and slices of Italian Pannetone.

At this point I am going to be very risque, and mention that you can eat this uncooked (as we used too), so if your very brave, not in any of the “at-risk” groups, and have exceedingly fresh eggs feel free to try them as nature intended!  Although it probably is wise, and in my opinion tastes better anyway, to lightly cook the egg yolks as described here.

(For 4 persons)

8 Egg Yolks, now I am not one to preach, I am hugely in favour of economy eggs for cooking if you are on a budget. However since you are consuming these practically raw, or at least lightly cooked, I feel flavour and more importantly quality is hugely important.  For that reason, I am going to recommend you buy the most expensive free range, and organic eggs that you can afford. The difference, is immeasurable.

8 Tablespoons of sugar, granulated or caster is just fine. Lots of recipes call for caster sugar, you know what, it is going to dissolve, so I have no idea why anyone feels it makes a difference in this recipe, so just go with regular sugar in my opinion.

2 Tablespoons of Marsala wine, or a sweet sherry if you can’t find Marsala wine. Although (again not preaching) I would recommend making the effort to find Marsala wine as its excellent in a variety of Italian dishes, and is an excellent after dinner tipple too.


-Now please don’t be like me, dismiss thoughts of grabbing that electric whisk or equivalent, this is an old Italian recipe, so please show it some respect and use a nice hand wisk.  With your wisk in hand, proceed to whisk and blend the egg yolks with the sugar in a medium sized bowl.  Keep whisking until they become light, fluffy, and slightly frothy (as a guide 3-4 minutes of frantic hand whisking will do it, or 1 minute with an electric whisk, if your lazy like me).

-Next add the marsala wine, and with a spoon stir this into the mixture, take some care not to destroy the light fluffyness you have created earlier.

-Now at this stage you if your going to be brave, and I REPEAT if you are not in an “at risk” group, (i.e. very young, elderly, pregnant so forth) you could skip the next stage and go straight to my notes on Serving.  However for most of us I would recommend you gently pour this mixture into a small pan, a milk pan for example, and proceed as below.

-Next, place the pan over a VERY low heat, and gently stir the mixture constantly.  It is rather like making a custard, in that you don’t want to be overheating the mixture, and you do need to keep occasionally lifting the pan off the heat to cool it slightly, and of course as mentioned, do keep gently stirring throughout.  Continue to do this for somewhere around 5-8 minutes (or longer) until the mixture thickens slightly.  Dont aim for really thick, think a thick pouring cream consistency, but I advise you, please do not overheat this mixture, it takes time to thicken. Be patient!  Then your done, and it is ready to serve!


Personally I pour this into pre-warmed, old style Champagne glasses, and serve it with long spoons while it is still fresh from the pan, just as it is!  It is ridicilously delicious. 

However the traditional way, to serve it cooked, is poured generously over fresh baked figs.  Just rip the figs open, sprinkle some brown sugar on top, put them on a tray, and place in a medium heat oven for 10 minutes prior to serving, and then pour the fresh Zabaione over the top. Enjoy!!

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