The Tea Boy spoke quietly as he paddled into my office, stopped at the door and said ….. “I’ll tell you what I fancy and we haven’t had it for a long time…. ” and he paused. Not a short pause, a long wistful look of reminiscence on his face which turned to a single raised eyebrow, then a frown which looked more daft than quizzical. My mind raced, though I appeared nonchalant, internal screaming was contained to mild fleeting panic. He stood studiously whilst I retained the persona as the queen of cool, likely now pending a hot flush. The silence gathered dust before he blurted.
“Zabaglione! Sorry couldn’t think what the damn stuff is called”. Due diligence retained to the mental gymnasium, mind muttering to self “He’s a Mathematician after all, and what do they know?”
“Zabaglione indeed! Oh, good call!” said with a nervous laugh, audible inward gasp whilst simultaneously checking pelvic floor and un-welding my eyebrows from my hairline.
Zabaglione is an enchanting edible Italian balm that soothes mind, body and soul.
With that 4 local organic hens egg yolks (which are indeed the colour of satsumas) and about 4 tablespoons of sugar were combined in a heat proof bowl, whipped with a hand whisk at first, which was swiftly replaced with an electrically mechanised version. Then phaphlessly whizzed to a fluffy, foamy emulsion mixed over lightly simmering water in a pan without touching the water, I place the bowl in a colander over the water. During the 3-4 minutes initial mixing the mixture becomes pale and almost white at times. Then ‘a significance’ of Marsala (⅓ to ½ cup) was combined into the warm gloupy foam which took 8-10 minutes to become clouds of pure bliss and seemingly tripled by volume.
The merging warmth and mellow exuberance of mellifluous Zabaglione cuddled Ratafia, Amaretti, Sesame and boudoir biscuits as they were dipped, slurped and lasciviously appropriated. ‘Dunk’ and disorderly? Oh, yes please.
In the same week further variations and equally plausible options of this life affirming dessert included:- pink champagne, orange muscat (wow) serve warm or refrigerated in pretty bulbous or coupe glasses, accompanied with boozy berries. This version is more Sabayon, the French variation, that typically uses a Sauterne. Other variations with bigger guns included cognac and rum though not all in the same batch you understand. Using maple syrup instead of sugar revelled in a wee dram or two of Scotch Whisky (6 egg yolks about half a cup of good maple syrup with a decent Scotch appeased our diabetic friend and his lactose intolerant arm candy of the moment). The weightier and more robust flavoured versions gravitate toward crumb, chocolate and nuts for texture.
The first and last batch made with Marsala saw us completely ‘Zabbed out’ or so I thought at the time. Unbeknown that bigger things were afoot as I tipped remaining goo into a tub and popped it into the freezer ….
Note: This superlux yumminess doesn’t require an ice cream machine. I used good quality, fresh, organic supermarket eggs, hence the difference in colour of the frozen version shown.
The yolks of 6 eggs and 4-6 tablespoons of caster sugar combined as above. Marsala or Amaretto ¼-½ cup to taste.
Layer into a non-stick loaf tin, a wavy middle layer of finely ground almonds/pistachio/walnuts and/or Amaretti biscuits, topped with layer of the cooled fragrant bubbly mix. Freeze, devour whilst listening to the dulcet notes of purring sopranos, bases and baritones alike. The hooch, sugars and tiny bubbles provide a decent but not rigid set. Remove from freezer use hot water to the exterior of the tin to extrude unwilling semifreddos. Coat with crumb but please don’t let on about how easy it was to make such a sophisticated tasting frozen dessert!
The serenity and spirit changes the hypnotic power of this warm gastronomic delight to a perfection of a cold confection, a Zabaglione Semifreddo