Say it with me- zzz-aabb-aaaahhh-gll-ii-ooohh-naaaay. Just like that. Practice it. That’s the hardest part. Trust me. I know custards like Zabaglione sound tough, but most of the time, learning the name is the hardest part. All it takes is a little bit of attention and a lot of love, and you have a super impressive dessert to share with your friends this weekend. And they will be impressed. Especially if you call it Zabaglione.
This has to be, hands down my favorite dessert (next to a really good cup of Brickley’s homemade ice cream from South County, Rhode Island—but I only get that once a year). It also happens to be so. freaking. easy. it’s ridiculous. But somehow, when you put “egg yolks” and “double boiler” together in a recipe, people run screaming. NO, NOT THE DOUBLE BOILER!
You do it with chocolate, right? Same thing here. Don’t worry about curdling the yolks. You may, the first time. But you’ll never do it again. Because once you get the technique, and the secret trick down, you’ll be a pro. P.S.- the secret trick is not so secret: don’t stop. That’s it. Two words, or I can make it three: DO NOT STOP. Don’t you dare put that whisk aside even if your wrist feels like it is falling apart. Once you do, it’s all over (oh I see, that’s why you’re scared).
Just keep on keepin’ on until your custard is perfectly thickened and be prepared to enjoy one of the best desserts of your life. At which point you’ll think, “wow, that was way easier than I thought.” and completely forget about how stressed out you were in the first place. Trust me. And make this recipe.
Spring berry gratin with Orange zabaglione
1 lb mixed fresh berries, washed and divided among 4 medium ramekins
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup unbleached cane sugar*
2 tbsp grand marnier or other orange flavoured liquer**
lemon or orange zest (about 2 tsp)
1. Preheat broiler. Fashion a double-boiler with a small pan in a larger pan, making sure water does not touch the bottom of the smaller pan.
2. Vigorously whisk egg yolks, sugar and grand marnier above simmering water, 8-10 minutes or until thickened. Do NOT let mixture bubble.
3. Immediately remove thickened mixture from heat, stir in citrus zest and pour over fruit.
4. Place dishes under broiler for 1-2 minutes or until golden.
*I learned this recipe with ‘real sugar- white, bleached sugar. The bad stuff. I’ve tried it with honey. It doesn’t work. So I settle for the lesser of the evils, and go with unbleached cane sugar. It’s an occasional treat.
**Traditionally, zbaglione is made with marsala wine. I’m allergic. Any sweet wine will do, though I prefer an orange liquer for springtime. Your choice!
Zabaglione can be served as a simple custard, skipping the broiling step. I like it broiled-just a little golden on top. It’s almost like crème brulee… but Italian and much, much easier. It’s also fantastic with some fresh organic whipped cream on top if you’re really looking to indulge.