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Zabaglione recipe

Zabaglione recipe

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This classic Italian dessert is my favourite. Serve with fresh figs, raspberries, biscuits or even over vanilla ice cream!

24 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 100g (4 oz) caster sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Marsala wine

MethodPrep:2min ›Cook:20min ›Ready in:22min

  1. In top of a double boiler over simmering water, mix together egg yolks and sugar until smooth. Stir in Marsala wine. Continue to cook and stir constantly until mixture thickens and bubbles start to form. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(21)

Reviews in English (16)

by MOUSIE206

Note that sugar should be added gradually to eggs in double boiler and should be whiskednot just stirred. Don't add the wine until sugar and eggs have a custard-like consistency or thealcohol will burn off by the time it's ready.It can also be served at room temperature.-19 Nov 2001

by laughingmagpie

Not quite as good as my trad. recipe.I disagree with mousie about the steps.I have always combined all the ingredients then put it over simmering water and whisked it until nice and fluffy. Served over broken lady fingers and seasonal fruit. Fabulous finish to an Italian meal.My recipe12 egg yolks1/2 cup superfine (berry) sugar3/4 cup MarsalaWhisk until custard has tripled in volume and tempature reaches 140 degrees-01 Sep 2008


Loved this! I incorporated a couple of suggestions from a couple of recipes along w/ Mousie's review. You need to whisk vigorously & don't allow the simmering water to touch the bottom of the custard pan. I did as Mousie suggested & allowed it to thicken before adding the wine (I used Muscat instead of Marsala) & the wine thinned it out quite a bit but it soon thickened right back up. I served it in vintage sherbet glasses & topped each w/ two beautiful, huge strawberries & sprinkled a little raw sugar over it all. Wsa beautiful & had an awesome flavor!-01 Jul 2006

Zabaione, My Way Recipe | Seriously Italian

After over a decade at Babbo, I've made a helluva lot of zabaione. Enough to fill Fiat Cinquecento, I'd say, and I never grow tired of it. Zabaione, or its alternate spelling of Zabaglione, is a marvel of a dessert—with three basic ingredients and a bit of practice at whisking over a water bath, you are rewarded with a warm, boozy, egg-y cloud of deliciousness, the down comforter of the dolci universe.

It is also the ideal last-minute dessert fix all you need to make a fantastic zabaione is egg yolks, wine, sugar, and some good arm muscle. The basic formula to serve four generously is 4 egg yolks, 1/4 cup wine (or a combination of wine and spirits), and 1/4 cup sugar. I like to add a tiny pinch of salt to enhance the flavor. The recipe can be doubled to serve a crowd, and modified slightly to play with the flavors. Try not to stray too far from these proportions, however zabaione is an emulsion, and the proportion of fat to liquid plays an important role.

I like to make my zabaione with Vin Santo, because it is a wine with both sweetness and acidity. I sometimes combine the Vin Santo with rum or grappa you can use brandy or any infused spirit to create whatever flavor you want. Marsala creates the flavor that most Americans are familiar with, but in Italy, the wine of choice is usually something local, which isn't difficult since every region produces at least one sweet wine. In Piedmont, where zabaione originated, it is often made with bubbly Moscato D'Asti, or Brachetto D'Acqui.

It is important be familiar with the flavor of whatever wine you choose. Some dessert wines are high on the sweet scale, and in that case you may start with a larger proportion of something drier, adding the sweeter wine as an accent, or adding one or two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to balance things out.


The list of ingredients for zabaione may be short, but the devil is in the details. Start off with selecting the right bowl. At Babbo, I use a heavy copper bowl that once belonged to the Coach House, and it works just beautifully. Copper conducts the heat from the boiling water bath evenly, allowing you to control the cooking process. If you don't have a copper bowl, glass is the next best choice its insular properties prevent the zabaione from overcooking in spots. The goal is to create heavenly, luxurious foam. Thin, stainless steel or ceramic bowls heat far too quickly and unevenly, and before you know it, you've made an omelet. Plastic is just a plain no-no.

The pot that you choose for your boiling water bath, or bagno maria should fit the bottom and about one-half the sides of your bowl, allowing it to fit snugly and comfortably without too much tilting to one side or the other. You should be able to lift the bowl (with potholders or a kitchen towel to protect your hands) off the pot without too much difficulty.

It is also important to use a round bowl, not one with a squared or angled bottom, so the whisk travels smoothly across and through it. The final consideration when matching your pot to your bowl is depth you should be able to simmer at least 4 inches or so of water, with a good inch of space between the water and the bottom of the bowl be careful not to allow the water to touch the bowl.

The last vital piece of equipment is a good whisk. Unless you are making dessert for an army, a medium sized, 12 to 14-inch whisk will work just fine, preferably round or balloon shaped with flexible tines. Pick one that feels good in your hand—not too heavy, not too light—and do a few test strokes in the bowl. If you can comfortably create a smooth, fluid whisking motion, you're set to go.

Simmer and Whisk

Bring the water to a simmer. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together to combine them, remembering the golden rule: never dump sugar on egg yolks and hesitate or walk away, even for a few seconds. The sugar will "burn" the yolks—creating hard, unpleasant clumps that won't dissolve. Whisk in the wine or combination of wine and spirits, a wee pinch of salt, and if necessary, the lemon juice. Whisk the ingredients together off heat to create a foamy texture that will give you a good head start.

Place the bowl over the simmering—not boiling—water and keep whisking. Remember to always keep the mixture moving in an up-and-over motion. The goal is to incorporate air into the zabaione as you cook those yolks. This isn't the time to change the TV channel or answer the phone (heck, I don't even like to talk when I'm making zabaione) you're pretty much stuck there until it is done.

Monitor the water by occasionally lifting the bowl up and taking peek. If it is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, as a full boil may result in bits of cooked egg forming on the sides of the bowl. The zabaione will start to turn thick after four or five minutes of steady whisking.

There are signs to look for that will signal it is almost done: The whisk will leave tracks in the zabaione as it moves through it, and the mixture will start to come away from the side of the bowl, and it will mound easily. At this point, I start to perform my 8-second test: Lift the whisk up and let some of the zabaione fall back onto itself. Count how long it takes before the fallen shape flattens, and when that point reaches 8 seconds, you're done. Take the bowl off the heat and place it on a folded kitchen towel on the counter.

Wait, you're not done. Keep whisking. That's right, keep whisking. It is necessary bring the temperature down a bit, which will help the zabaione thicken further. I understand you might be tired at this point, but who can't use a little more arm toning? How long to whisk it off heat depends on how you wish to serve it. My favorite way is warm or at room temperature, to get the full impact of boozed-up egg. Chilling it by whisking over a bowl of ice water or beating it completely cold with an electric mixer works too, but mutes the flavor somewhat.

To Serve

In a restaurant kitchen, it is common to fold chilled zabaione into whipped heavy cream. I do this myself with a heavy heart the cream allows us hold the zabaione for the many long hours of service and shape it into a perfectly round quenelle on a plate, but we lose some impact of that wonderful, egg-y flavor. If I had my druthers, all my zabaione would be made in the dining room and served warm, tableside, as my brethren do at Del Posto.

Serve the zabaione over a slice of cake, crostata or panettone, on top of fresh fruit with a sprinkle of toasted almonds, or alone in a beautiful dessert glass with some biscotti, amaretti or savoiardi alongside. It is not often that a dessert is soothing, comforting yet elegant all at once, but zabaione fits this bill perfectly.

Italian Zabaglione Recipe

Traditional Italian Zabaglione Dessert
(Source: ©cathy-yeulet/123RF)

There is a school of thought that dictates "serve hot or cold," but this to most Italian palates is heresy — always serve your zabaione HOT.


Castor Sugar

In the USA substitute Super Fine sugar, a.k.a. Bar Sugar. In Canada use Super Fine or Berry Sugar. These sugars are finely ground yet not powdered like icing sugars.

When talking of sweets in the Italian menu, this airy-fairy refinement of egg punch is the one that springs first to the mind, and it is worthwhile knowing how to make it to perfection.

For each serving allow 2 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons castor sugar, and 2 tablespoons of Marsala, or failing this, of good Sherry. Vanilla may be added, if liked, but for my taste the dish is better without it.

Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until they are pale and creamy, then slowly add the Marsala. Place the mixture over hot water in a double boiler, and stir slowly until it thickens, taking care not to overcook it otherwise, it will curdle. Serve immediately in warmed sherbet glasses.

Easy Italian Zabaglione Recipe

The Italian Cook Book (1919)

Easy Zabaglione

Yolks of three eggs granulated sugar, two ounces Marsala or sherry wine, five tablespoonfuls a dash of cinnamon.

First stir with the ladle the yolks and the sugar until they become almost white, then add the wine.

When ready to serve, place the saucepan in another one containing hot water and beat until the sugar is melted and the egg begins to thicken.

Traditional Italian Zabaglione

The Cook's Decameron (1905)

Zabaglione Dessert

Zabaglione is a kind of syllabub. It is made with Marsala and Maraschino, or Marsala and yellow Chartreuse.

Ingredients: Eggs, sugar, Marsala, Maraschino, or other light-colored liqueur, sponge fingers.

The traditional quantities as follows:

For each person the yolks of three eggs, one teaspoonful of castor sugar to each egg, and a wineglass of wine and liqueur mixed. Whip up the yolks of the eggs with the sugar, then gradually add the wine.

Put this in a bain-marie (double boiler), over low heat, and stir until it has thickened to the consistency of a custard. Take care, however, that it does not boil.

Serve hot in custard glasses, and with hand sponge fingers.

Antique Bain-Marie
(Source: Don Bell)

About the Italian Zabaglione Recipe

Modern Zabaglione with Almonds, Cherry Sauce and Gelato
(Source: ©

Italians have modernized their zabaglione by adding fruit, nuts, flavored sauces, and gelato. It makes a terrific base for a wonderful flavor creation.

However, the traditional version is made simply with egg yolks, white granulated sugar, and Marsala wine. Some cooks make it with a little maraschino liqueur.

Zabaglione is really an egg custard that has been whipped to make it very light and sweetened. So basic! So delicious!

The Secret Method Used by Italian Chefs

The SECRET to preparing a good Italian zabaglione is to use a double boiler and to barely simmer the egg mixture until it thickens to a light custard. If you overcook it, it can turn out with an unpleasant scrambled egg consistency.

This dessert should be eaten hot, as soon as it's ready, as it tends to collapse when cooled. Serve it on its own or poured as a sauce over plain homemade cake, fresh fruit, or homemade Italian gelato.

Whether you prefer calling it sabayon, zabaglione, or zabaione, you'll love the wonderful taste of this old fashioned Italian dessert. Try an Italian zabaglione recipe today!

  • Zabaglione needs constant whisking, so that it doesn't overcook or curdle. Make sure you have all of the ingredients ready so that you don't overcook the custard.
  • Adjust the sugar. If you prefer your zabaglione sweeter, add more sugar a tablespoon at a time until you hit the right sweetness level for your taste buds.

Marsala wine is the traditional ingredient in zabaglione, but feel free to substitute it with another sweet wine, like sherry, Madeira, sparkling Moscato, or another dessert wine. Even some Grand Marnier would work.

Lidia’s Italian Table

In a medium-size, copper or other heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, Marsala and sugar until smooth. Place over, not in, barely simmering water and continue beating (switching to an electric handheld mixer, if you like) until the mixture is pale yellow, frothy and falls in thick ribbons when the whisk or beaters are lifted, about 8 minutes if you are whisking by hand or about 4 minutes if you are using an electric mixer. It is important to whisk continuously or the egg yolks will cook and the mixture will appear curdled. Remove the sauce from over the heat and serve immediately, either spooned into individual coupes or over fresh fruit or berries.

Chocolate Zabaglione: In a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, melt 3 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate, stirring often so the chocolate melts evenly. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the bowl of chocolate over the water to keep it warm. Prepare the zabaglione sauce according to the directions above. Remove from the heat and fold the warm, melted chocolate into the sauce. Serve immediately.

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YUM! I use this recipe over and over again! I make this ahead of time and put it in the fridge to cool. Then I start with a dollop of berry sorbet in a wine glass, add assorted berries and the ladle the zabaglione on top. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a roll cookie and you have a very elegant dessert!

this looks quick and wonderful. Is it served warm or can it be ade in advance and kept cool?

This is a wonderful recipe. Try it--practice it--add it to you permanent set. (Remember, this recipe costs less than $1, so try it on a weeknight so that you are ready for your next dinner party.) We had a Christmas dinner on a 8 hour notice and I used this with a store bought panettone. It was a huge hit.

An absolutely fantastic and incredibly simple recipe. I layered it in glasses alternating with berries, parfait style, and it was a hit. Everyone who tasted it was blown away. I'll definitely make it again!

This was so easy that my sister and I made it while juggling an 8-month-old and a 17-month-old, without even referring to the recipe again once weɽ read it! And so delicious, and elegant. Also, a great choice for me because I needed a special dairy-free Easter dessert. We served it over strawberries, with purchased delicate wafer cookies on the side. and drank the rest of the Moscato dɺsti!

Most recipes tell you to use a hand whisk, however, the electric mixer mentioned in this recipe made a great zabaglione in 1/2 the time. I served this with rasberries. wonderful! Some may want to cut the sugar by 1/3 for a more adult sweetness.

On a whim, I tried making it with a egg substitute. I had to adjust the sugar and wine. I used a Multiquick with the whisk attachment. When I was whisking it, I only heated the corner of the saucepan and alternated it on and off the heat. It turned out beautifully.

I haven't made this particular recipe, however I use the same techniques and ingredients and have to admit, it is absolutely divine. I have also been guilty of varying the liquor and flavoring sometimes even going as far using brandy extract when non-alcholics are my guests. The electric handmixer makes life so much easier.

  • 225g/8oz strawberries, hulled
  • 30ml/2tbsp icing sugar
  • 4 large Lion Quality egg yolks
  • 65g/2.5floz Marsala or medium sherry
  • Drinking chocolate to dust
  • Thin biscuits to serve

Rinse the strawberries in cold water, then cut each in half. Place in a small bowl and toss in the icing sugar. Divide between four tall glasses and set aside.

Place the egg yolks and sugar in a large heatproof bowl and whist until the eggs are thick and fluffy. Gradually whisk in the Marsala, the mixture will become runny. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook for 10-15 mins, whisking all the time until the mixture is really thick and creamy – it should be thick enough to leave an ‘s’ shape on the top of the mixture when the whisk heads are lifted.

Divide the mixture between the glasses spooning it over the strawberries, dust with drinking chocolate and serve immediately with thin biscuits.

Recipe Summary

  • 8 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup dry marsala
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced

Put the egg yolks, the marsala, and then the sugar into a large stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl over a large saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water. Using a hand-held electric mixer on low speed or a whisk, beat the egg-yolk mixture until it is hot and the mixture forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted, 5 to 8 minutes. Don't cook the zabaglione for too long, or it will curdle.

Put the strawberries in stemmed glasses or in bowls. Top with the hot zabaglione and either serve the dessert immediately or refrigerate it for up to an hour.

Variations: · For a zabaglione that will last up to six hours in the refrigerator, add whipped cream. Beat half a cup of heavy cream just until it holds firm peaks. When the zabaglione is done, remove the bowl from the heat and continue beating until it's cool. Fold the cooled zabaglione into the whipped cream. Put the strawberries in bowls, top with the zabaglione, and refrigerate.: · Substitute blueberries, raspberries, or sliced peaches for the strawberries.

Test-Kitchen Tip: What you need to make zabaglione is, in effect, a double boiler that's wide enough to accommodate an electric mixer. This is easy to rig up with a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan.

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Perfect zabaglione

Prep 2 min
Cook 8 min
Serves 4

4 egg yolks
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
4 tbsp marsala or dessert wine
1 tbsp brandy (optional)
1 pinch salt
Nutmeg, to serve (optional)

Find a heatproof bowl that will sit over, but not touch, a pan of simmering water, and put that water on to boil.

Start by whisking together the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl, until they turn thick and creamy.

Put the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl and whisk until thick and creamy. Gradually beat in the alcohol and salt, then set the bowl over the pan and continue to whisk, scraping the base of the bowl as you go, until the whisk leaves an impression in the mixture and, when lifted up, drops a fairly solid ribbon trail on the surface of the mixture.

Add your alcohol of choice: marsala is traditional, but sweet wine also works add a slug of brandy, too, if you fancy.

Remove the bowl from the pan and put on a cool surface. Keep whisking for another couple of minutes, then divide between bowls and serve (I like a grating of nutmeg on top).

Serve over fruit. Or on its own.

Zabaglione or sabayon: do you have fond memories of this classic Italian dessert, or do you have another last-minute festive favourite up your sleeve? And if you are a zabaglione fan, what do you do with all the excess egg whites?

Fiona Beckett’s wine match
Christmas is the ideal occasion to drink vintage port which needs consuming within a couple of days of opening the bottle (there’s your excuse!). It also needs decanting, but remember to keep the bottle upright before you start and pour steadily in a single movement so that the sediment doesn’t fall back into the bottle. Sainsbury’s has a smooth, velvety 2003 in their Taste the Difference range on offer at £18 (20%).”