Sabayon or Zabaglione Sauce

The sabayon is smooth, light, foamy sauce/dessert, thickened with bubbles, of Italian origin. It comes from the Italian words zabaione or zabaglione which themselves come from a Napolitan word: zapillare which means foaming. It is traditionaly served lukewarm, in a garnished cup or glass. It was for a long time the speciality of the "Greco café" in Rome.
Nowadays, zabaglione sauce is used to coat puddings, various type of pastries or poached and fruits.
A sabayon also refer to a type of mousseline sauce made with champagne that accompanies fish or shellfish based dishes.
This recipe serves 6 people:
  • 3 egg yolks.
  • 100g (31/2 oz) caster sugar.
  • 11/2 dl (5 fl oz) of white wine*.
  • juice of 1/2 lemon or 2 tablespoons of liqueur**.

In a stainless steel bowl (make sure that it can fit in one of your pot, as it will be placed in a bain-marie), place the eggs and the sugar and work them vigorously until the mixture makes a ribbon (see picture).

Place a pot on the range with some water and bring it to a gentle simmer.

Gradually, add the white wine to the egg-sugar mixture and place the bowl into the bain-marie and start whisking, using a small sauce whisk. Keep beating lightly the mixture, continuously, until the sabayon start thickening and reach a light foamy consistency. During this operation make sure that your bowl does not get too hot ("keep it below 55 degrees centigrade") otherwise the egg yolks could cook and scramble. To Check that you are at the right temperature, just touch the side of the bowl with your hand, if you burn yourself it is too hot.
The liqueur should be added to the zabaglione just before serving.
If the sauce is not to be served straight away, place it in a bain-marie until serving time.
Serve lukewarm.
* Wine: traditionaly the sabayon is made using a dry white wine such as asti wine, chardonay, champagne, etc or a sweet wine such as marsala, sauterne, gewurztraminer, muscat, etc.
** Liqueur: a vast selection of liqueur can be used to flavour a zabaglione sauce. The choice of the liqueur is based on its final use. It ranges from kirch, grappa, rum, Grand marnier, cointreau or curacao to creme de cassis, orange or rose blossom water, etc.
"What is food to one man may be fierce poison to others".
Gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian. Not suitable for diabetics.