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by Dino Joannides from Semplice

Impress your friends with this classic Italian dessert made with egg yolks, caster sugar and sweet wine. It's so simple to make and incredibly tasty and elegant.

From the book

Dino Joannides


I adore this dessert and wish it would feature more on Italian restaurant menus all over the world. In the past, it was often made to order at the tableside in restaurants, providing a little theatre whilst you waited for it to be prepared. Now, unfortunately, you are more likely to be offered pre-made tiramisu.

I always have the ingredients necessary to whip up this dessert at home. It is basically egg yolks beaten with caster sugar and a sweet wine. In the south Marsala tends to be used, whilst in Piedmont, from where it originated, Moscato d’Asti or other sweet white wine is more common. Like the choice of alcohol, the name also varies – ‘zabaione’ in the north, and ‘zabaglione’ in the south.

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4 egg yolks
4 tbsp caster sugar
4 broken eggshell measures of dry Marsala or Moscato d'Asti wine


Put the egg yolks and sugar in a glass bowl and whisk in one direction until a paste forms. Add half the wine and whisk again until you have a smooth, thick custard with just a few bubbles.

Place the bow over a pan of simmering water (the water must not actually touch the bowl) and carry on whisking while gradually adding the remaining wine. This can take 10 minutes or more, depending on how vigorously you whisk. The idea is to thicken the mixture with air and to warm it, so you might have to take the bowl off the heat every now and then to avoid cooking it through. The result should be a silky cream that is almost as thick as mayonnaise. The test for readyiness is that a Savoiardi biscuit will stand upright in the zabaglione once it has been poured into a glass.

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