IL GRAN FINALE
Zabaglione, Sugared Cherries, & Cornmeal Cookies for our Euro/Med final.
Zabaglione, or zabione, is a traditional Italian dessert of frothed eggs, sugar, and dessert wine – traditionally Marsala. As an egg and liquid mixture, zabaglione falls into the category of custards and creams which utilize the protein of eggs to thicken the liquid in the mixture at the standard ratio of 4 parts liquid to 1 part egg (1 c liquid : 1-2 eggs.) Though the term custard is often used to describe both custards and creams, the term creams actually describes the subcategory to which zabaglione belongs. Unlike custards, which are baked and therefore undisturbed by stirring allowing them to set into solid gels, creams are constantly stirred on the stove-top to create a pourable sauce. More specifically, Zabaglione classifies as an egg foam which requires the addition of a liquid (such as Marsala) to the yolks to provide sufficient free water with which to create bubbles. Heat must be applied while the mixture is whisked to allow the yolk proteins to unfold and bond with each other to form a stable network of bubbles, which would otherwise rapidly dissolve. The protein in aerated yolks thickens around 120 degrees F but will coagulate and separate at higher temperatures. For this reason, many cooks opt to control the temperature of their zabaglione by preparing the cream over a hot water bath. To that end, the standard method for creating zabaglione involves beating together equal parts egg yolk and sugar, incorporating wine at a ratio of four times the amount of wine to egg yolk, and then whipping the mixture for several minutes over a hot water bath to create a frothy egg foam. Perfect zabaglione should be a thick, light, smooth, barely pourable emulsion, slightly frothy and balancing wine with the richness of egg yolk and a mellow sweetness.
Other Dessert Creams:
CRÈME ANGLAISE — The French term for a rich custard sauce served hot or cold over cake, fruit or other desserts. Crème anglais requires gentle cooking only to the point at which the sauce begins to thicken, far below the boil.
CRÈME PÂTISSIÈRE — The French term for “pastry cream,” a thick, starch-based egg custard used for tarts, cakes and to fill pastries such as cream puffs, éclairs and napoleons. The addition of starch to this sauce creates a thick substantial cream which will hold its shape. Unlike with crème anglaise, which will curdle if boiled, pastry cream must be boiled to deactivate the starch-digesting enzyme, amylase, present in egg yolks. Conveniently, the starch protects the egg yolks from curdling.
The Zabaglione recipe I used can be found at: