Zabaione is a fluffy mixture of egg yolks, sugar and a sweet wine, usually a Moscato d’Asti or Marsala wine. As a mousse, the addition of fresh whipping cream lends a more sophisticated touch to a very traditionale dessert. Cooked in a bain-marie, zabaione is usually served, still lukewarm with crunchy biscuits called lingue di gatto as they are reminiscent of cat tongues. Easy to make, these biscuits are made with egg whites, and they are ideal for scooping up the zabaione.
This recipe is quite similar to making eggnog, including the addition of fresh cream: in this case it is whipped, and with gelatine, it gives a unique texture to this dessert.
In this recipe I offer two different ways of serving it: either in a cocktail cup with a biscuit and mixed berries, or a type of sandwich made with two biscuits.
Zabaione is traditionally appreciated in all of Northern Italy. The recipe seems to have originated in Piedmont in 15th century, and there are probably individual variations. Is also typical of Romagna, where it was turned into a liqueur called Vov.
Near Forlì, a local restaurant owner found a precious recipe book (published in 1907), when helping friends clearing out an old attic. In it, a woman who lived there at the time had made notes. The ingredients are quite different, but it testifies the deep appreciation for this dessert and its taste. This mousse is quite often served in small dark chocolate cups, inside croissants or with poached pears in red wine.
For the zabaione
In a large saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a simmer. Remove from heat and melt the gelatine in the water.
In a large copper or stainless-steel bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until thickened and light yellow in colour. Whisk in the Marsala wine or brandy and place the bowl over the pan of simmering water. Mix slowly until the zabaione gets thicker, at least 5-6 minutes.
Add the gelatine to the zabaione, and stir until it is perfectly combined.
Turn off the heat and move the bowl to a cold bain-marie. Cover the bowl with food wrap and place it in the fridge to set for 20 minutes.
Whip the cream and fold it carefully into the zabaione. Fill a pastry bag with a star nozzle.
Place the biscuits on a dish, squeeze the mousse on them, and cover with another biscuit. Repeat the process and add some berries to add colour. Serve.
For the lingue di gatto biscuits
Pre-heat the oven to 375° F (190° C).
Get 2 muffin trays and brush each bottom and sides with melted butter, then cover the bottoms with parchments rounds.
In a bowl, mix the butter and the sugar carefully with a spatula, without letting it become fluffy. Add the egg whites, and mix until smooth. Add the flour until it is incorporated. Place the mixture in a pastry bag with a plain 10 mm tip.
Pipe a dollop of the mixture onto each parchment round and place in the oven for 10 minutes. When the biscuits are cooked, place them on a cooling grill to dry, and only when they are perfectly dry and crunchy, place them in a biscuit box.
To make the traditional cookies, lay parchment paper on a cookie sheet and pipe 10 cm-long rows.