Sunday, 21 August 2011

Mama's Zabaglione

I know I’m going on holiday at 3am tomorrow, but I thought I could fit in one more blog post before I go. The packing will have to wait.
After my second post, my mum read my blog and emailed me about her experience of Zabaglione. Zabaglione is the first part of the mixture for tiramisu, as I described in How to make tiramisu.
Mum said that back in 1974, when she was living in London, her Italian landlady taught her how to make Zabaglione. So there was my Mama, back well before I was born, living in London just like I am now, making Zabaglione, just like I am. Funny how that happens.
Mum returned to New Zealand in 1975, only to find that European food still hadn’t really broken through. No ricotta cheese, not even any yoghurt. Wine came in a box and was red or white. Coffee? Nescafe, milk and sugar. Chinese takeaways were all the rage.

My Grandma gave Mum a Christmas present when she came back – a very ‘in’ cookbook called “Australian and New Zealand Complete Book of Cookery”. This fancy new cookbook even had full-page pictures. Along with the trusty New Zealand Edmonds cookbook, it was the only one my Mum owned. And in this new-fangled cookbook, lo and behold, was a recipe for Zabaglione, which Mum was pretty overjoyed about.
So Mum fancied herself as a bit of a Zabaglione maestro back then in New Zealand in the mid 1970s. Now, I don’t recall this Italian dessert growing up. And this is because, as Mum put it, “then I had kids, got poor, and cooking became an everyday chore!”
I asked Mum to share her recipe for Zabaglione with me for this blog. And her email came through this morning. And I thought, well, I had better just make it. Luckily we have friends who, at the drop of a hat, will leave everything and come to help us on a Sunday afternoon to eat dessert experiments. Thank goodness for good friends.
Without further ado, here is Mama’s Zabaglione recipe:
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup (4oz) sugar
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1/4 cup brandy (or just use another ¼ cup Marsala wine if you don’t have any)

Beat yolks and sugar in double boiler till pale and foaming, slowly add marsala and brandy, beating continuously till thickened and foamy.
Pour into glasses and serve with sponge fingers - the kiwi
equivalent of savoiardi.

Variation: use as sauce over fresh strawberries (this is what I did, since it is strawberry season in the Northern Hemisphere).

So I had a go at Mum’s recipe. And I discovered that I have a lot to learn from the Zabaglione Maestro that is my Mum. It worked, but I think it needs some practice. I made the mistake of thinking “6 egg yolks, that’s way too much!” and consequently having a very piddly amount of Zabaglione because I only used four. And I think mine is a little too thick, but I will just have to try again and perfect it. It is pretty yummy – just like alcoholic custard really.
And you may think I’m crazy, but I thought, well, what do you do with four lonely egg whites? You make meringue, of course! So that is just what I did. Actually I can’t take the credit for this, my boyfriend made the meringues while I made the Zabaglione. He had more success with the meringues, which turned out perfectly as everything he makes usually does.
4 egg whites (room temperature)
115g caster sugar
115g icing sugar
Preheat oven to 100c. Grease a baking sheet.
Use a large metal or ceramic bowl, and use an electric beater if you have one, or a good strong hand-held egg beater.
Beat the eggs until you get stiff peaks. Then slowly add the caster sugar, a spoon at a time, continuing to beat. Sift the icing sugar, and fold through a third at a time until just mixed.
Put large spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. Bake for 1.5 hours.

So this is what we had – fresh strawberries with Zabaglione and meringue, served with a glass of prosecco.

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