It may look like a very simple sweet cream, but the truth is that this dessert puts even the best chefs to the test. Here’s how to make a perfect zabaione
The ingredients necessary for a successful zabaione are simple: 30 grams of sugar for every egg yolk. And then, surprise, a teaspoon of water.
Water? That’s right: it’s the secret for achieving a frothy, delicate cream. But to understand its exact role, we have to turn, once again, to science. The basic procedure of zabaione consists of beating the egg yolks with the sugar in a bain-marie. In this way, the heat helps the yolks to become denser and facilitates the fusion of the sugar crystals which have an elevated hygroscopic capacity – meaning it can absorb many water molecules. This helps the cream separate the air bubbles that are incorporated while the mixture is being beaten. And when air bubbles are separated, the zabaione becomes a masterpiece.
A final note about temperature – yes, temperature again: like science teaches us an egg yolk cooks at 68°C and its useless to go much higher than that: the taste of the zabaione will be inferior and take on a “cooked egg” flavour. Which is the last thing your dessert should taste like.
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