At the risk of patting myself on the back, I have concocted the perfect Valentines Day dessert.
It’s rich yet light, bittersweet yet fresh, and it’s oh so decadent while not at all heavy or filling. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the best part– it’s spirited with a splash of sweet wine. Why haven’t I been making zabaglione for years?!
Zabaglione (zab-eh-yone) is a warm, creamy, slightly frothy custard that is spiked with wine, traditionally a sweet Marsala. It takes only a handful of ingredients and less than 15 hands-on minutes to make. If you have an electric hand mixer, that time will be cut in half. If you’re a poor unfortunate soul like myself and don’t have an electric hand mixer, I will suggest a couple of alternative methods in the instructions below.
In this recipe, I swapped out Marsala wine for a more romantic Port. If you’re not familiar with port, it’s a red wine that is fortified both in alcohol percentage and sugar, so it’s very sweet and very strong. You definitely would never have a glass with dinner, nor is it a couch-surfing wine you’d drink on its own. Given its moxie, Port must be strategically paired and gingerly sipped alongside a complementing last course. Adding it to this particular zabaglione makes perfect sense, given that it parallels Marsala’s sweetness, plus it pairs well with chocolate and berries.
I could take or leave Valentines day, but I will definitely take this dessert!
Chocolate Port Zabaglione over Strawberries
3 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
¼ cup Port wine
Small pinch salt
16 oz fresh strawberries, washed and dried
2 Tbsp sugar
1. If desired, set aside one whole strawberry for final garnish. Cut stems away from strawberries. Dice strawberries into 8ths and place them in a small mixing bowl with sugar. Toss to thoroughly combine, and set aside. This step is best done 30-90 minutes ahead.
2. In a pot, bring an inch of water to a low simmer, and find a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl that will fit the pot to form a ban marie (what’s that?).
3. With the mixing bowl off the heat, add egg yolks, sugar, cocoa powder, and half the Port.
4. Using an electric hand mixer*, whip the egg yolk mixture together until it looks airy and noticeably lighter in color.
5. Place bowl over simmering water. Continue whipping mixture as it gradually thickens, adding remaining Port wine little by little.
6. Zabaglione is done when it is warm, and thick enough to hold a ribbon for at least 3 seconds. This means when you lift the whisk out, a wide band of the custard falls and remains defined for 3 seconds before homogenizing back into itself.
7. Scoop prepared strawberries into serving glasses. Pour warm zabaglione over strawberries and serve immediately with desired garnish.
*If you do not own an electric hand mixer, you can complete step four using an electric stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or you can try using an immersion blender to achieve this effect. When moving on to step 5, switching to a manual balloon whisk is required. If no electric options are available to you, this recipe will simply require a little more elbow grease to get the right consistency.
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