Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Zabaglione is a simple Italian dessert made of egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine. It is usually served warm, though it can be served cold, or as a sauce, or even frozen. The Gourmet Sleuth writes,”Zabaglione is said to have been invented in the 16th Century in Florence, Italy in the court of the Medici. This dessert is classified as a “caudle” rather than a custard. A “caudle” is a sauce used as a custard to fill pies or tarts. The original pre-sixteenth century version was a drink made or wine or ale thickened with egg yolks.

I found the original recipe for zabaglione in the (1982) Time Life series The Good Cook Wine volume (out of print, only available on eBay). The original recipe called for 3/4 cups of sugar, which in all of our opinions here was way too much. I have since found similar recipes calling for half as much sugar. So I would suggest 1/3 to 1/2 a cup, depending on taste. This is actually quite easy to make; you just need to have a double boiler set up, or a stainless steel bowl on top of, but not touching, simmering water.

Zabaglione Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 6.


  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • Strawberries, raspberries, or biscotti


1 Place egg yolks, and sugar in a large, round-bottomed stainless steel bowl. Add grated lemon peel and a pinch of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract to the yolk mixture. Pour in the Marsala wine. You can use sweet Vermouth as a substitute for the Marsala.


2 Half-fill a pot with water, bring the water to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Set the pan or bowl containing the custard mixture over the water; the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisk the custard mixture, making sure that the water does not boil. This ensures that a gentle, even heat thickens the mixture without curdling it. Whisking traps air in the yolks for a light, fluffy mixture.

3 Continue whisking for about 10 minutes, until the mixture triples in volume, froths up and becomes pale. When it reaches the desired consistency, take the container of custard out of the pot. Slightly thickened, the custard can be used as a sauce. Longer cooking will thicken the custard further, giving it the texture of mousse. Continue whisking for a minute or two to prevent the custard from sticking to its container.

4 Serve the custard while still warm, or, if you want to serve it cool, set it aside for about 15 minutes. Whisk heavy cream until it forms soft peaks; add the whipped cream to the cooled custard and use a whisk to gently fold them together. Reserve some of the whipped cream to serve on top.

Ladle the zabaglione into individual dishes. Serve with whipped cream, berries, and/or cookies such as biscotti.

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Sabayon from David Lebovitz

Showing 4 of 26 Comments

  • Elise

    Awesome Hannah!

  • Antonietta

    I was born in Italy and my mom is from Naples. I grew up eating this simply as raw egg yolk whipped with sugar and as kids we whipped it in mugs ourselves with forks! I’ve never eaten it cooked but.of.course.we don’t eat raw egg anymore in the US so I will try it this way. Sounds yummy.

  • mariuccia

    We made this all the time when I was growing up. Our measurement was a tablespoon of sugar for each egg yolk.

  • Xavier


    I was first introduced to this desert when I was busing tables at a resturant by the name of leaning tower when I was a kid with a apatite for deserts . And now twenty years later I am a J.C and am doing a remodel on the place and find my self craving it . So thanks for info I will try it.

  • Frank arena

    In 1955, (age 26), while under doctor’s orders to only non- animal foods, my mother
    ( a Sicilian immigrant) gave me Simple “plain egg yolk & Marsala wine” for my health!….Wasn’t seriously ill again until 2008.
    My point? Zabaglione is more tha just a dessert..
    Good health,

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