July 4th begs for ice cream. At least in my world. But that’s a bit of work and assumes you own an ice cream maker.
There is another way though.
This year, I’m leveling up and making a frozen custard with wine and fresh fruit.
My wife and I both have memories growing up in a world where the kids were responsible for turning the ice cream maker crank forever and ever while Grandpa supervised. To this day, I don’t remember a better ice cream.
And while we’d never trade those memories for anything, today I’m thinking of something simpler, maybe a bit lighter.
For the cooking geeks like me:
This technique goes by many names, each subtle variation just a little different from the others. Like the panna cottas I made a couple of weeks ago, for example. Technically, it’s an emulsion, like mayonnaise, where you’re basically wrapping the droplets of one liquid around the droplets of another to make a creamy frothy mix by whisking it up with determination.
For the cooking geeks like me, a zabaglione is an Italian dessert, also called zabaione. In France, it would be a sabayon, similar to a semifreddo.
Traditionally, zabaglione is served warm. (Marcella Hazan, my Italian cooking guide and inspiration, doesn’t even mention it frozen. Chilled, but not frozen.) I remember years ago seeing the Frugal Gourmet on TV recount how it would be made tableside in the fancier restaurants who would charge a fortune for it. I’ve considered busking with a hot plate on a downtown street corner making it, a stockpot at my feet for spare change. It’s good stuff. Ten minutes work, served over fruit, and you’re a hero. Just egg yolks, sugar, and wine.
Often traditionally, it’s made with Marsala wine and looks something like this.
Back to today, getting ready for July 4th.
Let’s start with ingredients. Egg yolks, sugar, wine, heavy cream, maybe lemon juice, and fresh berries. (And remember: eggs, wine, and berries are probably available at your local farmers market.)
I say maybe lemon juice because it really depends on the wine you choose. The sweeter the wine, the more you’ll want the juice to balance it out. No more than a few drops, a teaspoon tops though.
With the Marsala wine above, I did not use any.
Because I wanted to end up with a red, white, and blue dessert (more or less), I chose a semi-sweet white wine. (I found a wonderful Seyval Blanc made locally.)
The wine is the key, by the way. Because alcohol doesn’t freeze, it keeps the mix from freezing solid like an ice cube and instead turning out like an ice cream. Almost a gelato. (And Calvados, a French apple brandy, oh my….)
There are special pans just for zabaglione. If I ever find this one, a Mauviel, or one very much like it in a flea market, garage sale, or thrift shop, it is so mine.
Until then though, I use a 2 qt saucepan with a few inches of water in it, heated to simmering, not boiling — that’s too hot.
While the water is heating up, I whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and wine together in a medium bowl for a few minutes. It will start to froth up a bit and turn a paler, lighter yellow.
Once the water has started to simmer, put the bowl in the top of the pan. You might want to use an oven mitt, pot holder, or kitchen towel to hold the bowl — it’s going to get hot.
Keep whisking at a good pace. After about 5-8 minutes, the custard will start to thicken and double in volume. When you can lift the whisk out and the pattern stays on the surface of the custard for more than a few seconds, you’re done. If you’re unsure, cooked eggs need to hit about 150°F on an instant read thermometer to be considered done.
But remember, if you don’t keep whisking, you’ll have scrambled eggs.
Also, if your bowl gets too hot, lift it off the pan and turn down the heat a notch, or you’ll have scrambled eggs.
When done, set the bowl in an ice bath (a larger bowl with some ice cubes and a little water). Give it another whisk once a minute or so until it’s cooled to room temperature.
Whip the heavy cream in another bowl. Not stiff peaks or anything, more like you would for topping a piece of pie. Once the custard has cooled, fold in the cream.
And you will end up with a bowl of wonderful that should look almost like frosting.
At this point, cover it with some plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for at least two hours, closer to eight hours is even better.
Serve with the berries.
Frozen Zabaglione is an easy to make yet elegant wine custard usually served with fresh berries. And it tastes nothing short of amazing. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 6 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
Put a few inches of water in a saucepan for a double-boiler over medium-high heat to bring to a simmer.
Put some ice cubes and cold water in a large bowl to use as an ice bath.
In a medium-sized bowl (that both fits the saucepan and the ice bath), add the egg yolks, sugar, and wine, and whisk together for a few minutes. (Do not combine the sugar and eggs and walk away.)
Set the bowl in the top of the saucepan. Keep whisking (casually, not crazy, just keep it moving).
After 5-8 minutes, depending on your heat etc., the mixture will start to thicken and double in volume. You'll know it's done when you can lift the whisk out and the pattern will stay on the surface of the custard for at least a few seconds.
Move the bowl to the ice bath and whisk occasionally while it cools to room temperature.
Whip the heavy cream in another bowl until it starts to firm up.
Fold the whipped cream into the cooled custard until blended (do not over stir this).
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in your freezer for at least two hours and ideally closer to eight.
Serve with fresh berries.
If you want to kick it up one more notch, sprinkle some salt flakes on top. Most people use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes and I know they’re available at my local Kroger chain.
I do hope you’ll give this a try. And let me know what you think.
Happy 4th everyone!
P.S. I found this Eat Local dish towel in Delaney & Loew Kitchenalia downtown. I might drop in every single time I walk by. Don’t judge.