Zabaglione – Italian Dessert Custard

Easy Italian Zabaglione
 Zabaglione - Italian Dessert Custard served in stemless glasses on a silver tray

 Zabaglione (pronounced zab-ag-lee-oh-nee) is one amazingly easy, yet utterly delicious dessert. It’s a simple mixture of egg yolks, sugar and marsala wine whisked together to form a soft billowy, boozy foam that is almost sinful in its simplicity, and deliciousness.

We’d set about first making zabaglione for a tiramisu cake and as it was the first time either of us had made it we weren’t quite sure as to the watchpoints. 

So we set about whisking the egg yolks, sugar and marsala over a double boiler and all seemed to be going swimmingly.

The mixture quadrupled in volume and was lovely and foamy. Pleased with our effort we duly popped it in the refrigerator to cool.  As we’d made the zabaglione in a glass bowl we could see after time that the marsala had settled on the bottom of the bowl. Not happy! 

So we set about googling various sites for an insight as to what went wrong. Well firstly zabaglione is invariably made and served while still warm, with no time for the alcohol to sink, and secondly we needed to find a way to hold the mixture in a suspension as we wanted to serve the Zabaglione cold

Cream to the rescue in the form of some cold stiffly whipped cream folded through the cooled zabaglione stabilised the alcohol beautifully. Devine! 

So this is our recipe for serving zabaglione chilled along with some light as a feather savioardi sponge finger biscuits to dip into the delicious, and heavenly foam. Winner!


Having now made this zabaglione numerous times we can let you in on some tips we discovered along the way. It’s not that it’s difficult at all, but there are a couple of definite watchpoints to look out for.

– use a glass or stainless steel bowl with a rounded base

– a hand held mixer makes the job easy but you’ll need a strong whisking arm and a balloon whisk if you don’t have one

– keep the water so it’s simmer, not a rolling boil and keep lifting the bowl above the water to check your water isn’t boiling

– don’t let the bowl come in contact with the simmering water

– whisk the yolks, sugar and masala together before placing the bowl over the water

– when adding the sugar onto the egg yolks start to whisk the ingredients immediately otherwise the sugar will ‘burn’ the yolks creating hard lumps that won’t whisk up

– keep the whisk moving as the goal is to incorporate air creating volume as the yolks cook

– after 10-12 minutes you should be able to lift the beater and have the zabaglione fall back on itself and count how long it takes the mixture to flatten – it should hold for about 8 seconds

– when you have the mixture holding its shape for the 8 seconds remove the bowl from the heat and place the bowl over a bowl of iced water beating it till it’s completely cold

– when the mixture is completely cold gently fold a few tablespoons of the mixture into the cream then fold the remaining mixture till incorporated – do not beat as this will destroy the air bubbles that make it foamy

Don’t Have Marsala?

Marsala is a sweet fortified wine that we particularly favour flavouring the zabaglione with. However you can swap the marsala for:

  • Frangelico
  • Grand Marnier
  • Cointreau
  • Tia Maria
  • Cognac
  • Coffee
  • Moscato 
  • or any other liqueur of your choice

What to Serve with Zabaglione

  • Serve as is with saviorardi biscuits, or thin Italian biscotti with almonds for dipping
  • Fresh berries 
  • Amaretti biscuits
  • Poached pears
  • Fresh figs

Check Out Another Delicious Custard Recipe

Super Simple Creme Anglaise

Super Simple Creme Anglaise

Super simple creme Anglaise, is just a fancy pants French name for English cream, or custard.

It is ridiculously easy to make, and we can just about guarantee you’ll  never buy store bought custard ever again with its stabilisers, and fake colouring.

We love a recipe that dispenses with certain steps (and washing up), and still delivers big time on flavour.

Watch How to Make Zabaglione – Italian Dessert Custard

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Zabaglione - Italian Dessert Custard
Yield: 6-8 serves

Zabaglione - Italian Dessert Custard

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This zabaglione recipe makes an absolutely delicious marsala flavoured dessert that is quick to make but definately has some watchpoints to look out for. See our watchpoints and video above to see that your mixture is exactly how it should be.


  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2/3 cup marsala or other liqueur
  • 1 cup cream whipped until stiff peak stage


  1. we recommend watching the short video above so you can see what volume and thickness the mixture should be
  2. have ready a bowl with ice water that is large enough for the hot bowl to sit over
  3. bring a saucepan of water (that will hold the bowl nicely) to a simmer, make sure that the bowl will not touch the water
  4. to a heatproof bowl add the egg yolks, caster sugar and marsala
  5. place the bowl over the saucepan of gently simmering water and whisk on high speed for 8-10 minutes (lift the bowl every so often to check the water isn't boiling rapidly) till mixture is thick and will hold its shape
  6. when you lift the beater and allow the mixture to fall, it should hold its shape for at least 8 seconds on the surface of the Zabaglione before it falls back on itself
  7. if the shape isn't holding continue beating for a minute or two and check again
  8. remove bowl from the heat and whisk the bowl over a bowl of iced water and continue whisking till the mixture has cooled
  9. remove bowl from the iced water and gently fold a few spoonfuls of the mixture through the cream
  10. scrape remaining mixture into the cream and gently fold through - do not beat the mixture as you want to keep as many air bubbles as possible
  11. pour into seving glasses and chill till you're ready to serve
  12. enjoy!

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