"...Hey, I don't want to brag, but no one can whip up a zabaglione or a mayonnaise like me. You like mayonnaise, huh? I dream about it! Not to brag, but none of the women in my family or in the neighbourhood could make two eggs yield so much. Look, they seem like ten! Now, there's a good girl, suck it slowly, it's more nourishing that way."
We look into each other's eyes as the thick liquid stolen from the sun goes down, warming the tongue, the palate.
The Art of Joy, Goliarda Sapienza
I'm breaking my own rules with this one; I am currently only halfway through The Art of Joy. Last Thursday a friend and I had a glorious dinner at Trullo, before she jetted off to spend six months in Central America. Halfway through our dessert - rich zabaglione and a glorious fig and almond tart, she mentioned The Art of Joy. The book is a fictional memoir, following Modesta's life in Sicily through the twentieth century. It's been awaiting reading in my flat for a couple of months now, after a recent book buying spree resulted in my having a near metre-high pile of new novels next to my bed. Megan's description of the zabaglione, made in prison from hidden ingredients, put The Art of Joy right to the top of the stack.
I have to admit I cheated, and snuck ahead to read the part of the book above. It's not my normal style, but I just had to have another zabaglione; I spent days thinking about the one we had at Trullo. It tastes so much more complicated than it actually is - if, like Modesta, you have a hot stone, a bowl, a fork and some eggs (along with some sugar hidden between your lover's breasts) you could probably get there. But it would involve superhuman arm strength. Much easier is an electric hand whisk over a bain-marie. With these two things, you're genuinely only ever ten minutes from zabaglione, a discovery I am absolutely thrilled by. This dessert, whipped up after the main course plates have been cleared, will feature heavily at dinner parties in years to come, served with seasonal soft fruits: blackberries, roasted peaches, figs. We had this one on its own, perfect in its three-ingredient simplicity.
Serves 2 (the recipe can easily be multiplied to serve more)
3 egg yolks
3tbsp golden caster sugar
2tbsp marsala (or enough to fit twice into half an eggshell)
Electric hand whisk
1. Half fill the saucepan with water and bring it to the boil. Turn it down to a simmer, and keep it at this level while the zabaglione cooks.
2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in the heatproof bowl until light and frothy. Add the marsala, then place the bowl over the heat.
3. Whisk the mixture on a medium speed for around eight minutes, until it has quadrupled in size. Ensure that the water doesn't boil too fiercely, and doesn't touch the base of the bowl at any point. Take off the heat. You could add some soft fruit at this stage.
4. Eat it, warm and rich, straight away.