Zabaglione, known in French as “sabayon,” is a light, foamy egg custard that is suitable for dinners both casual and formal. The preparation can be tricky, and requires some armwork, but the delicate, sumptuous texture is well worth the effort.
4 egg yolks
½ cup very strong coffee, at room temperature
1 jigger (1 ounce) coffee cream liqueur
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 pinch grated nutmeg
¼ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Unsweetened powdered cocoa
Chocolate ice cream
Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a large saucepan. In a non-reactive bowl large enough to rest in the saucepan to form a double-boiler, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Set the bowl inside the saucepan, careful not to let it touch the water, and whisk constantly, adding the coffee, liqueur, nutmeg, and lemon zest, until the mixture has thickened to the point where the whisk can leave a clean trail on the bottom of the bowl (about 3 to 5 minutes).
[Chef’s Note: It is important for the bowl to be kept from direct contact with the simmering water, as such contact might raise the temperature of the custard too rapidly, causing it to become grainy in texture (nothing feels worse on the tongue). If it feels like the zabaglione is getting too hot (warmer than body temperature), remove the bowl from the pan and continue whisking to cool it down, then place it back on the saucepan.]
Remove the bowl from the heat. Whisk vigorously for 1 minute to cool and thicken the mixture a bit. Add 1/3 of the whipped cream and whisk until smooth. Fold in the remaining whipped cream, careful to keep the mixture light and airy.
Spoon the zabaglione into individual dishes and serve immediately.
If desired, serve with additional whipped cream and powdered cocoa, or with chocolate ice cream.
Recipe by Mark Tafoya