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Make-Ahead Zabaglione with Mixed Berries and Amaretti Topping
Every vacation Tom falls in love with a new dessert. One year it was panna cotta, the next year tarte tatin. On an evening in Roma in 2009 Tom “met and fell in love” with zabaglione, or as it is called in Italia, zabaione.
So, what captured Tom’s heart so completely? It’s actually pretty simple … egg yolks, sugar and Marsala wine whisked into a sumptuously creamy boozy dessert. On our Roman holiday it was served warm, and we recently had a terrific version at Fino in San Francisco which was poured straight from the copper mixing bowl over fresh berries tableside.
Upon returning from Rome, I purchased a round-bottomed copper pot to make Tom’s new favorite dessert, but after whisking for what seemed like hours, the end result was just ok. I don’t even know where that pot is these days, and I haven’t tried to make that recipe since then.
Recently I came across a Barefoot Contessa recipe for Make-Ahead Zabaglione. Any recipe that is make-ahead has my name on it … PLUS Ina said it only had to be whisked for 5 to 7 minutes. I’m in!
If you have not tried Marsala wine it is an Italian fortified wine that comes in sweet or dry styles. Ina’s recipe called for Florio dry but the only one they had at the store was sweet so we went with that. According to Cook’s Illustrated, the dry Marsala has more depth of flavor while the sweet is more sweet and not as complex, but either will work.
Couple of suggestions, be sure to use fresh eggs. You can quickly check by floating them in a glass of water, if they float to the top, they are no longer fresh.
Also, Ina’s recipe calls for superfine sugar because it dissolves faster, but regular granulated sugar will work just as well.
Last, but most importantly, do not walk away from this dessert or it will be a lumpy ruined mess.
So, how to tell when it is done? From Serious Eats, “The whisk will leave tracks in the zabaglione as it moves through it, and it will mound easily…. Lift the whisk up and let some of the zabaglione fall back onto itself. Count how long it takes before the fallen shape flattens, and when that point reaches 8 seconds, you’re done.” Ina’s recipe says the “froth will disappear and the whisk will leave a little trail in the mixture.” This took about 10 minutes for me.
Now for the topping. We have eaten this dessert served warm and cold, over fresh fruit, with whipped cream and with biscotti. Ina’s version serves it cold, layered with crumbled amaretti cookies. However, if you layer the cookies in the zabaglione and chill overnight, they get mushy. I recommend adding them just before serving for a crunchy amaretto topping. I purchased the cookies at our local Italian market … love the red can!
This dessert can be eaten the same day or made up to two days ahead, just cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, layer the zabaglione with the cookies in a large goblet or champagne flute or spoon over fresh berries and top with the crushed cookies.
For an evening in Roma or any occasion, this zabaglione is delizioso!
6 extra-large egg yolks (save the whites for something else)
¾ cup dry or sweet Italian Marsala wine (see note)
½ cup granulated or superfine sugar
¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup cold heavy cream
Fresh berries for serving, optional
4 Amaretti cookies, lightly crushed
In a large heat-proof glass bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and Marsala together until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water to make a double boiler and whisk the mixture almost constantly until it expands in volume and thickens (see note above). Off heat, whisk in the almond and vanilla extracts and let cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally, about 30 minutes.
After the zabaglione has come to room temperature, place the cold cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer) and beat it until it forms firm peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled zabaglione mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a few hours or overnight.
Recipe lightly adapted from Ina Garten Make It Ahead, Make-Ahead Zabaglione with Amaretti.